Cam’ron has officially made ignorance a brand. But before this is pegged as one of those gangsta rap-condemning, gaudy-jewelry disapproving, industry-hating indictments, let’s crown this Harlemite’s trademarking of slackmindedness as one of the most brilliant entrepreneurial moves in modern day Hip-Hop. Think about it, although Crime Pays, Cam’ron’s sixth studio album, packs all of the no-homo quips and crack recipes that have incensed the more progressive Hip-Hop listeners for the better part of a decade, why are women with PhD’s still tapping their feet? Why are people who respect women still reciting lyrics that compare a female’s private parts to a childhood snack? Shoot, why is ignorance so darn entertaining?
It’s not so much ignorance that’s entertaining as simplicity. Take one of the album’s standout singles, “Cookies-N-Apple Juice,” for example. With its southern xylophones and spare drum patterns, the song’s lure is its singability; Cam’ron’s “Apple Juice” is essentially Souljah Boy’s “Now watch me you!” borrowed or stolen, but highly chantable. In the confrontational “Where I Know You From” he favors cocaine references, “Don’t get extorted, I get escorted/ To the resort where girl say ‘let’s snort it.’” Cam’ron raps like he’s very proud of that infinite well of white metaphors. He just has a knack for making a spectacle out of his own crassness.
Yet, amidst excessive violence, drug glorifying, and misogyny, is—believe it or not—a fun-loving hoodlum. Cam’ron’s funny work woes on “My Job” rival the cult-classic Office Space with its anti-employment satire. His bland basement singing pitch make us question his self-awareness later on the album as he snaps in all seriousness, “I hit the bottom of the pussy hole.” All in all, Cam’ron’s longevity is pretty easy to explain for Crime Pays elicits the same two-headed reactions that his prior releases have. One, the empty-headedness is fascinating and alluring in itself and two, that fascination still keeps us listening in hope that Cam’ron is aware of his own silliness.
- Sidik Fofana