By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
By Steve Weinstein
By Araceli Cruz
When Cam'ron—MIA for nearly two years as he cared for his ailing mom in Florida—re-emerged last year, Vado saw an opportunity. "I felt we had enough icons come out of Harlem, and I wanted to keep the tradition strong by coming up under one of them," he says. Cam's comeback effort, the unjustly unheralded Crime Pays, had been a mostly solitary effort; Vado finagled an introduction from their mutual friend Suga Duga, impressing the famously aloof Cam with a style that combined elements of Jones's bluntness, Santana's youthful bravado, and Cam's wit into a single package. A new clique called the U.N., short for "Us Now," was born. "Vado, he speaks about Harlem, he speaks about a lot of stuff I can relate to," Cam'ron told rap website Vlad TV. "And then not only that, he can really rhyme. . . . He's a young guy with an old soul, so a lot of the stuff he was spitting, I really felt it."
Though he says he's been welcomed into the Diplomats by Jones and the others (Dipset's 40 Cal, in fact, was a childhood friend) and will appear on the upcoming Diplomats reunion album, Vado's relationship to the crew remains a source of confusion. He likens the situation to Dr. Dre's introduction of Eminem in the late '90s. "At that same time, Dre also brought back Snoop and the Dogg Pound," Vado says. "Eminem was a part of that, but Eminem always did his own thing. He had his own team, but at the same time, he was there for anything Dre needed. That's how it is with me and Cam. If Cam needs me for anything, I'm there."
The Diplomats play Hammerstein Ballroom November 26. Vado plays Temptations December 1.