The year 2000 was a major turning point for Cameron Giles, better known as Cam'ron. Rising from the streets of Harlem and getting his first taste of rap fame as a member of the prodigious group, Children Of the Corn, Cam earned his ticket to the big time after rapping for the Notorious B.I.G., who took a liking to the brash upstart.
But following Biggie's death in 1997, Cam'ron, with the help of Lance "Un" Rivera, CEO of Untertainment, inked a record deal with Epic Records and released his debut album, Confessions Of Fire, in 1998. But despite having a stellar project, Cam was overlooked in comparison to other New York rap heavyweights like Jay Z, DMX, Nas and others. And during a period when going platinum was the standard, a Gold plaque for Confessions of Fire meant that Cam was either a hit away from moving the needle or a misstep away from obscurity.
Eventually, Cam'ron's relationship with Epic grew estranged with the two sides frequently at odds over the creative direction and marketing of his projects. Stuck in the purgatory that is the major label system, Cam channeled all of his bitterness and vitriol into his sophomore effort, S.D.E. (Sports, Drugs & Entertainment).
Released on September 19, 2000, the album debuted within the Top 20 of the Billboard 200 chart and peaked at No. 2 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs tally. The collection failed to match the success of Confessions Of Fire, but would go on to become a cult classic among New York rap purists.
To celebrate the 15th anniversary of this release, we've compiled and ranked the five best songs from Cam'ron's second album.
"Double Up"Featuring Juelz Santana
Cam'ron takes it uptown with "Double Up," which sees the Harlem rep going bonkers over production courtesy of producer Digga. Rapping, "Ayo, y'all n----s wit the muscle, y'all get clapped in a tussle / I'm a hustler, not a rapper, it's just rap is my hustle / Show indigino, yo / Be the first teen millionaires of Harlem since Rich and Po / If you don't know, get to know," he wastes no time getting into his groove. "Double Up" can also be credited as Juelz Santana's first notable rap appearance, as the Dipset young gun turns in an impressive cameo. "I'm f---ed up, let the streets get a hold of me / Now they got me trapped in and they holding me / I'm stressed out, why else would I smoke the weed / Everyday, papi tell me he got coke for cheap," he raps on the last verse and proving himself worthy of Cam's cosign.
"That's Me" is the opening selection on S.D.E., which was produced by Self. The beat features frantic drum kicks, snares and violins, which when matched with singer Keisha "Honey" Cargill's vocals, makes for a soundbed worthy of being played in a cathedral. Cam'ron is invigorating on the song, dropping quality bars like, "I ain't no rapper, b, I skeet Uzi's / And I can't act, turned down three movies / So give me ya chain, ya jewels and ya cash / And ya fast food, I eat ya food fast." "That's Me" kicks off S.D.E. on a good note and will make any true rap fan nod their head.
"What Means The World To You"Featuring Keema
Killa cooks up something for the radio with "What Means the World to You," a track on S.D.E. that sees the flashy lyricist slowing down the flow and going for more style than substance. Better verses may be found on S.D.E, but few have as many memorable lines that jump out at you, such as when Cam name-drops a few NBA players while incorporating gun-talk in the same sentence. Although the song was geared towards the mainstream crowd at the time, it's still a surefire banger that has classic written all over it.
"Let Me Know" is a rambunctious banger that sees Cam'ron talking greasy for the duration of the song and throwing down the gauntlet against all challengers. "Damn, it's a miracle, thought y'all was veterans / What you flow is ill, huh, mine was ya medicine / Now you in the game, lame sound the best you ever been / Play right, I'll catch you late-night, n----, like Letterman," he snarls as he sends subliminal shots towards Jay Z. From dropping witty couplets like, "You the type of cat wanna marry your lover, go to the end of world for her like Mario Brother" to getting especially grisly during the last twelve bars on the third verse, Cam flips Johnny Pearson's "Heavy Action" sample into his own playground of monkey bars and leaves no witnesses.
"Losin' Weight"Featuring Prodigy
The standout track from S.D.E. is "Losin' Weight," a hard-boiled offering which sees Cam lamenting his struggle and strife as a hustler over a Digga-produced beat. Asking himself, "Why it feel like I'm losing weight / Why I ain't got no money if I'm moving weight," Cam'ron gets therapeutic and vents all over the track. The Harlem rhymer delivers memorable lines in each epic verse while employing a stone cold flow. Prodigy of Mobb Deep also makes an appearance on the track and contributes a serviceable rhyme, which completes this otherwise bone-chilling song that's only gotten finer with time.