Sassy rap chartbuster with ugly underside from hotly-tipped Harlem contender
Still in his mid-twenties, Harlem-raised all-rounder Cameron Giles has already been a nationwide basketball champion, high school rapping partner to Mase, friend of Notorious B.I.G., songwriter for Lil’ Kim and collaborator with everyone from Jay-Z to Ol’ Dirty Bastard. But on this, his third album, Cam seems at his happiest playing the role of a bitch-slapping pimp. How fucking tedious.
But ‘Come Home With Me’ is an album of two sides, and the sunny side is superb. When Cam and his producers sample vintage soul and disco grooves by Norman Whitfield, Aretha Franklin and Lionel Richie for helium-voiced pop-rap serenades like the recent US smash ‘Oh Boy’, the effect is both euphoric and romantic. Guest vocalist Tiffany sounds positively enraptured on the lush, woozy, sugar-rush of ‘Daydreaming’, Cam’s Valentine to the high-school sweetheart who became his long-standing babymother. A little later, ‘Hey Ma’ takes up the same theme in a tender, call-and-response seduction setting.
Which makes the dead-eyed misogynist bluster elsewhere doubly disappointing, not simply for its political incorrectness – which can be exhilarating, hilarious or plain balls-out provocative in the mouth of a Tupac or an Eminem – but for its witless, unquestioning acceptance of Ghetto Fatuous lyrical clichés. From the routine wife-battering advice in ‘Intro’ to the nihilistic sex anthem ‘Stop Calling’, Cam’ron gives the impression that all women besides his “boo” are either ‘hos, gold-diggers, or custody case blackmailers who deserve to “get beat like Tina”. Oh yeah, and disease-ridden groupies: “your pussy stinks like garbage, bitch” is one of his more edifying lines. And before you write in, NME’s heard all those shit-for-brains excuses about racist oppression somehow justifying sexist oppression, and about cultural differences somehow making lazy hate propaganda immune to criticism. Save it for your sociology lectures, you dickless worms. All apologist arguments aside, this is simply dull and heartless music.
Fortunately, Cam comes alive when he throws off this lowest-common-denominator pimp routine and finally pays attention to the beats. The booming ‘Welcome To New York City’, with Jay-Z guesting, is a pulse-quickening hometown anthem which links the carnage of 9-11 to the street violence of Harlem. ‘I Just Wanna’ trips along on a nervy, frazzled, Timbaland-style stutter while ‘Dead Or Alive’ nods to pneumatic Neptunes robo-funk. At the close of this uneven and wildly schizophrenic album, Cam’ron finally proves himself witty and imaginative enough to break out of the mental ghetto he calls home.