Cam’ron Opens Up About Past Beefs With JAY-Z And Nas & How They Made Peace
On December 7, 2019, it will have been 15 years since Cam’ron released what he considers his favorite album in the discography, Purple Haze. The 2004 album was his second with Roc-A-Fella Records, fourth overall, and was arguably when The Diplomats were at their zenith as a New York City Rap collective. Killa Cam’ is gearing up to release a Purple Haze sequel on December 16. He sat down with The Rap Radar Podcast to go over many moments of his incredible career.
While speaking about the good times, they touch on Cam’ron’s Hollywood ventures and how Damon Dash fought for Cam to get his role in 2002’s Paid In Full. Cam reveals that much of his dialogue in the film was improvised, as director Charles Stone gave him the freedom to go off-script, having actually stayed in Harlem in real life. Rap Radar‘s Brian “B. Dot” Miller references an old S.D.E. lyric from the song “That’s Me,” asking Cam which movie roles he’s turned down. He reveals he turned down Sticky Fingaz’ eventual role in Ice Cube’s Next Friday, and also a part that went to Marlon Wayans in what he can only remember as “one of the worst movies Tom Hanks was in,“ presumably referring to 2004’s The Ladykillers.
Around the 11:00 mark, Cam’ron discusses his relationship with JAY-Z. Rumors have circulated for years about a tense, antagonistic relationship while Cam’ron was an artist signed to the label c0-founded by Jay, Dame, and Kareem “Biggs” Burke. The conflict went public in 2006 when the two exchanged diss tracks on Cam’s Killa Season album and Jay’s Kingdom Come. Now, a dozen years later, that rift appears squashed as Cam performed at Jay’s B-Sides 2 concert in New York. Cam’ron describes it as “never being physical beef,” but more of personal disagreements and not being on the same page.
“[The Diplomats] got up [to Roc-A-Fella Records] and started movin’ around really quickly because we’d been jerked around at Sony, and we learned the business. When we got to Roc-A-Fella, we already knew what we had to do. We know who’s running Radio, who’s running Promotion, we know who’s head of Marketing,” Cam says. He admits that he and Dipset would maneuver Def Jam Records to do what they wanted to be done, suggesting they did not always operate with permission or blessings from the Roc staff. “I’m not saying that this is how JAY-Z felt, but [he could have felt] that because other artists didn’t do that—and it might’ve been wrong too, on our part; we was jumping the gun [and] trying to make it happen without talking to him. Dame offered me the Vice President job at Roc-A-Fella without consulting with JAY-Z. A lot of little emotions was going on—not just with JAY-Z and myself, but you have [all these crews inside the label and studio].” Cam’ also admits that he created a bidding war between Roc and Def Jam for Juelz Santana, which upset Dame Dash. Ultimately, Juelz would release his first two albums through both companies.
Cam’ron admits something about his former boss, though. “No matter whether me and JAY-Z got along publicly or even in private, what I tell people is me and him may not have even been speaking, but when I had to do what I had to do, I had to get six signatures to do anything,” he says, referring to Def Jam’s top executives as well as Roc-A-Fella’s. “JAY-Z signed off on anything, whether it was Diplomats or Juelz or anything that I did. So maybe we may not have been on the same page personally, but business-wise, he never held me up from doing anything.” Cam’ron also says that in the mid-’90s, he, Jay, Dame, and Memphis Bleek traveled together for an opening gig for Method Man. “I was around them for a long time, ‘fore they even had any records goin’ on. It was cool to see everybody come up like that.”
Cam’ron adds that earlier this year, Jim Jones reached out. “He said, “Jay wants you to perform.’ I said, ‘Cool, it’s not a problem.’ That was that. Then, [O.G.] Juan called me with JAY-Z; we spoke for about three, four minutes—talked, just to smooth everything out. Everybody was cool; we ain’t talk about no bullsh*t or nothin’. Then we did the show. We spoke the next for a minute, and that was that.”
Nas was also a stage guest at B-Sides. B. Dot asks Cam’ron how he and Nasir were able to reconcile an ugly beef in the 2000s. At the 38:00 zone, Cam’ says he was able to squash tensions with Nas during a flight from Las Vegas to New York, where the two MCs simply talked. “I had my back turned; he came in and hit me in the ribs, just playin’ around. I turned around [confused]. He was like, ‘Nah, what’s up, man?’ We just talked. We ain’t talk about no beef, no problems, no nuthin’. We got on the plane [and flew to] New York. When we got off the plane, I’m like, ‘You know what? Come take this picture, because nobody gonna believe it.’ [Laughs] We took the picture, and that was it, to be honest with you. We exchanged numbers; we never really spoke after that.”
Cam’ron admits that he did not enjoy that beef. “[Dissing him] was one of the toughest things I ever had to do, to be honest. Because I’m a Nas fan, real, big time…I was like a real Hip-Hop junky, as well as trying to get money when I was young. My cousin Bloodshed, God bless the dead, he was big, big on Hip-Hop. So we had a lot of tapes and stuff. I’m a real big Nas fan. Like what happened was, Nas just dissed me for no reason. It was a really tough decision to make, but it was [like], ‘Dag, we about to pop off.’ This ain’t like today. [Back then], you had to say something. But I was like, ‘Damn, this is Nas, though. So we can’t go light; it’s Nas. But at that particular time, and even today, there’s still a particular debate over who people feel is the best MC. But to us, Nas was the best MC at that particular time.” Cam’ron believes that Nas was upset with HOT 97 for showing perceived favoritism to Dipset and Roc-A-Fella. Nas said, “Cam’ is wack” during an early 2000s Power 105 interview. It came as a shock to the target. “What the f*ck? I ain’t even do nothin’ to you, man,” he remembers feeling.
After Dipset filled a vacancy left by Nas at HOT 97’s Summer Jam, Cam’ron and his associates released a string of disses. “It was one of them situations where, at that particular era, it was like, ‘Look, this is Nas. We can’t just do one song, because he could come back with another song and kinda kill everything.’ So let’s just bombard the situation.’ That was the only way that we felt we could handle it, because Nas was such a legend at that particular time.” B. Dot asks Cam’ron if he feels his bars crossed a line. The guest admits that while at the time he did not, he would do things differently in hindsight. “Do I regret it? Yeah, because I didn’t want to go that far. But at that particular time, in my mindset and [in] the ni**as’ that I was runnin’ around with, they didn’t give a f*ck.” He also apologizes to Cam’ron’s daughter and his spouse at the time, presumably for his “Hate Me Now Freestyle” lyrics. “We were just on a mission, at that particular time, to just try and get to the bag. I had so many people with me at the time. You gotta realize, Big L had died, Ma$e had left [New York City]; I basically had Harlem on my back. I was basically the f*ckin’ savior for the whole borough,” he says. “That’s why I went so hard.”
Throughout the tail end of the interview, Cam’ron goes through other high profile beefs or moments he’s been known for over the years. He speaks on his short beef with Jim Jones, praising his work ethic and his drive as an artist, and also touches on his infamous interviews with Bill O’Reilly and 60 Minutes. In response to more recent perceived disses to Kanye West, Cam’ron says he doesn’t see himself as dissing anyone but only speaking on the facts of the situation. He also talks about how a beef between The Black Mafia Family and Jim Jones got started and ended over spilled drinks.
Elsewhere in the conversation, Cam’ron discusses Jim Jones’ tenacity, why he learned to do better business through his years at Roc-A-Fella, and how he had a televised laugh at Bill O’Reilly’s expense.
#BonusBeat: Jim Jones and Cam’ron’s “Mama I Made It,” produced by The Heatmakerz: