Cam’ron is an extraordinary writer. There are the sly, knotty word games that eventually became his trademark (“beige coupes, suede roofs, send him up to Jesús”), the wrenching realism (“I ain’t have no fresh clothes, or jewelry with the XOs/my house had asbestos”), the scathing asides (“It’s hot here—ask Mase, he ran to Atlanta”). Beyond the acute tricks, he’s a master of tone: in his raps, the second person might be you or a plump executive or Stephon Marbury or a rival dealer or Jay-Z, but whatever the case, Cam conjures the atmosphere in mere seconds. He’s an auteur—that is, when he’s not an All-American basketball recruit or a Technicolor fashion plate.

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