Tonight at S.O.B.’s, one of Harlem’s favorite sons, Cam’ron, takes the stage to remind us all why, for almost two decades, he’s been one of hip-hop’s most endearing personalities. But along with all of his quotable verses and unforgettable Cam-isms on record, he’s given us some moments in front of the camera that have become just as legendary. While you prep for tonight’s show by assembling a petition to get Criterion to release Killa Season on BluRay, we’ve put together Killa Cam’s five best moments in front of the Killa Camera.
Paid in Full 2002
Starting things off we have Cam’ron’s breakout role as Rico in the Roc-A-Fella film Paid in Full. Alongside Mehki Phifer and Wood Harris, the overall quality of the film separated it from any number of direct-to-DVD rap projects, allowing Cam to flex his on-screen charisma and show some legit nuance in his performance. From flashy to callous, it put Cam head and should above most of his contemporaries. It’s also interesting to note that the real life person Harris’ character is based on recorded a single back in ’91 about the same events called “What’s Going On, Black?”
“The O’Reilly Factor” 2003
Slightly less finessed but just as exhilarating is Cam’s 2003 visit to Bill O’Reilly on “The O’Reilly Factor.” The conservative Fox News pundit was at the height of his popularity, and frequently found himself perpetuating a veritable war on hip-hop. To settle the debate as to whether the music was a danger to children or not, O’Reilly invited Cam, Roc-A-Fella CEO Damon Dash and elementary school principal Salome Thomas-El for a discussion on if rappers have a responsibility to be role models. Of course, Cam’s nonchalant sparring with O’Reilly wound up becoming the stuff of legends, leading to a decade of memes as well as birthing and popularizing saying “U MAD?” Advantage: Cam.
Killa Season 2006
I think everybody remembers their first time seeing Cam’ron’s electric opus Killa Season. From the insistence on violence, to the musical numbers, to recycling home movies by dubbing over them and calling them scenes, to Cam playing himself as a high schooler, this motion picture truly has it all. Originally intended to be the first entry of a 20 (!) part series, which would have effectively made it one of the most successful film franchises of all time, Killa Season has sadly yet to spawn a single sequel, making its abruptest of abrupt endings all the more troubling.
Cam’Ron’s “To Catch a Predator” 2006
Another sadly never realized Cam project was going to be Dipset’s take on the popular “Dateline: NBC” series “To Catch A Predator.” In early 2006, Cam announced that filming had already started for their series of sting operations, catching would-be child molesters on camera. According to Cam, “When they get there, it’s gonna be me and [my manger] Big Joe like, ‘What the hell are you doing, you damn pervert? What the f– is wrong with you, coming to meet a 13-year-old boy?’ We’re gonna talk to them and not let them leave until we find out what’s wrong with them.” While two stings were filmed, once Cam realized he would be required to have the actual assistance of law enforcement to continue carrying out the project, he sadly left it abandoned and unreleased.
“60 Minutes” 2007
Remember the “Stop Snitching” movement of the mid-2000s? More than a heavily-bootlegged t-shirt, “60 Minutes” wanted to get the unfiltered perspective on why the shunning of law enforcement involvement was becoming such a popular rallying cry. Anderson Cooper sat down with Cam who explained why he ascribed to “Stop Snitching” from a business stand-point, as well as attempting to define the code of ethics he grew up with. Whether you agree with Cam or not, what’s great about this clip is how neither Cooper nor Cam holds back during the interview, fully capturing the debate at the time.