Those who spent this summer listening to New Orleans rapper Lil Wayne’s “A Milli” crank out of car stereos from Harlem to Brooklyn could be excused for feeling a bit sad. It wasn’t so long ago that we had our own indigenous ways of making SUVs (er, hybrids) thump—years after D-Block and Wu-Tang and Roc-a-Fella fell, New York still had the Diplomats: Cam’ron, the leader, prone to pink chinchilla coats and rhymes of dazzling internal intricacy; Juelz Santana, the young heartthrob, whose casual delivery and tendency toward rhyming a word with the same word, over and over again, was itself a feat of charisma; Jim Jones, the braying capo with a stunning knack for catchphrases. They were flamboyant, and their records—the mixtape series Diplomatic Immunity; Cam’ron’s 2004 classic, Purple Haze—ruled New York. Until, that is, Cam’ron lost his mind. Feuds with two of the world’s richer and more talented rappers, Jay-Z and 50 Cent, ensued; then came the embarrassing, blustering YouTube videos, the public dissolution of the clique as Cam’ron went M.I.A. down in Florida last summer, and, going on over a year now, total silence. Cam, guys—what happened?
More from the Voice‘s Best of NYC 2008 here.