Rap's most high-profile free agent has made up his mind and signed on the dotted line. According to his camp, Cam'ron finalized a multimillion-dollar deal to bring himself and Diplomat Records to Asylum earlier this week.
"We playing both sides of the fence," Jim Jones, Cam's partner and newly appointed director of black music at the Warner Music Group (of which Asylum is a subsidiary) said Wednesday. "We got the executive chairs, so we could be executives for the rest of our lives, but we still making good music right now. We getting the game popping."
On Friday, Cam shot a video for his "Down and Out" single with Kanye West, which was released last year on Cam's Purple Haze LP on Def Jam. The label released Cam from his contract earlier this year, so the song didn't receive a big promotional push (see "Free Agent Cam'ron Shops For Label After Dropping Def Jam"), but its popularity with DJs and on the streets has made it a hit. The clip mainly focuses on Cam and Kanye performing in the street and an all-pink beauty shop; there's also footage of biker chicks performing stunts.
Cam has a new album slated for release late this summer, but first, his Diplomats partner Jim Jones will release his second LP.
"My album, Harlem: Diary of the Summer, is coming out the last week in July," Jones said. "I got some blazing tracks. I pretty much surprised myself on this one. The album is a straight-up summertime album, you smell me? It is drop-top music: It is hot outside, a lot of sh-- be going on, a lot of fights be going on, money to be made, n---as like to look good, the ladies be walking through [almost] naked. When you listen to it, you are going to do nothing but reminisce and be like, 'Damn, he's right. This is nothing but summer music here.' "
Fittingly enough, the Dips were recently among the first acts announced to perform at Summer Jam, which takes place June 5 at Giants Stadium in New Jersey.
Meanwhile, the Dips' youngest member, Juelz Santana, recently released a video for his "Mic Check," which he directed and paid for with $20,000 of his own money. "I took [the song] up to Funkmaster Flex and it just ended up getting a great response," Juelz said. "I just took the money out my pocket and shot the video, and everything went crazy. Rakim came to the video — I didn't even know, he just came through. He was telling me how much love he had for me. I was like the teacher of the class in the video and he sat behind the desk like the overseer. That just meant so much to me."
And though Juelz made his upcoming album, What the Game's Been Missing, while he was a free agent, he recently signed a new joint-venture deal with the Dip Set's original label, Def Jam. He believes Jay's company will be the machine necessary to push his new project to the next level. But if Dip Set general Cam had instructed Juelz not to accept Def Jam's offer, it would have been a wrap.
"For a minute it was like that," Juelz admitted of the pressure to choose between Jay and Dame during the Roc-A-Fella split. "Cam is like my brother. If Cam was to say we leaving, honestly we would've left. But he gave me the option. But I'm not gon' front, Def Jam is acting like they ready to go full-court with my album."
His first single is "There It Go," and the new album features Lil Wayne, the Game, Fabolous, Cam and Juelz's nephew, Jah. Young Juelz is also adding a DVD to pair with What the Game Needs that will include even more videos that he'll be directing.
"I'm about to take money out [of] my pocket and shoot about four more videos and do like a 'Streets Is Watching' thing for my album," Juelz said. "I'm gonna try to have dialogue in between the videos, so it seems like a movie by the end. We was doing a 'What's Really Good' movie but we just don't have a title. I'll probably be directing it, but I'll probably have Scott Franklin produce it."
Fellow Dip Set members Hell Rell and J.R. Writer both have upcoming solo albums on Koch, and not a moment too soon. The movement has inspired a cult following: With their slang, thunderous beats and oversized jewelry, they've become more than Hollyhood, they've got clones.
"We're like rap when it first started," Juelz said. "We don't really oversaturate ourselves. And the people who love us, it's like a cult. They wanna be us. They wanna do what we do."
For a full-length feature on Cam'ron check out "Cam'ron: Fly Guy."