Regrettably, I wasn’t hip to Cam’s music when his debut, the excellent R U Still Down?, dropped back in April. A wonderfully cohesive and organic product, the record has remained in heavy rotation ever since I discovered it and it has left me wanting more of the rapper’s smooth cadence and eclectic lyrical style. And luckily, with the release of his new offering If It Ain’t Broke…, Cam has delivered another quality album. One of the most vital aspects of his last project was how much it felt like a classic hip-hop release, with its diverse sampling choices and self-aware devotion to the classic album sequence, including some hilarious radio skits. These elements have carried over to his second release of 2018, and then some.
Firstly, I have to complement revenxnt’s work on this album. As the second full length he’s entirely produced this year, If It Ain’t Broke… successfully hones in on more nostalgia-driven sounds, sporting a sonic palette that presents proof of the New Jersey producer’s ability to craft sounds indicative of his associate’s talents. And honestly, based on the quality of this record, I’d say rev has found his best sparring partner to date. ‘KAN’T KILL ME’ loops ‘Come Fly With Me’ and ‘Put It On’ vocal samples under a thrashing boom-bap beat, crafting a flawless minute and a half beat for Cam to go crazy over. This joint is the closest thing to a title track the project offers, featuring plenty of crazy bars to rhyme with the titular statement: ‘Everybody a critic but won’t even buy a ticket, so all I hear is crickets’. This is the most immediately song on the project, but it’s just one of ten near-perfect tracks from an undeniably brilliant duo.
As well as working in perfect unison with revenxnt, Cambank$ teams up with two MC’s worthy of his caliber: Adonis and ThugYeezy. Snappy fourth track ‘STUTTR’ is as Cam puts it an East Coast/West Coast hook up, and one for the ages at that. This one is pure, unapologetic bars: ‘Could you do me a favour? Ask yourself why I’m not your favourite. It sounds so lovely in the whip when you play it’. Here, Cam relishes his mic skills over the sleek production, popping off at other rappers: ‘How come nobody like real shit no more?’ ‘Y’all ain’t even living right, y’all too insecure’. Adonis slides in for the last 40 seconds, his Long Beach flow perfect for the deservedly cocky tone of the song. ‘Stack them figures. N***** really action figures, don’t dap with n*****, don’t really like to rap with n*****’. His verse may be short, but he crams a ton of stupidly good bars in to wrap the song up. ‘HUNNIT STAKKS’, meanwhile, is even more special. ‘I ain’t the type to toot my own horn I gotta a lot of work to do too, we both bleed the same blood I’m just smoking different earth to you’ rasps Cam over a smoky jazz riff. ThugYe meanwhile increases my hype for his project by bringing us yet another classic verse: ‘If you feel offended know I mean no harm n****, fortune teller raps we can read your palms witcha, more truth than the songs, bible scripture lil n*****’ is just one sample of his incredible performance.
With a damn near perfect five tracks, this project has a lot to live up to in its second half, and yet somehow it surpassed all expectations. ‘BOMB FIRST’ is a more immersive joint with a melodic hook, Cam is really good at those layered chants in his songs. ‘UNHAPPY DAYZ N BAD NIGHTS’ riffs on Family Circle’s ‘Mariya’ for an ode to struggle and loss, featuring more aggressive raps from Cam: ‘Living in hell tryna make it heaven. Slowly losing my family heart, don’t even know where my head is’. The singing is super passionate, and makes the track the emotional centerpiece of the record. ‘U WERE THE WORLD TO ME’ continues the feelings of romantic discontent, Cam’s delivery becoming increasingly gritty as he muses over a past relationship. In general, this project is more soul-searching and reflective than his past work, and this is made evident by more of his strong singing on the last four tracks, as the album begins to wind down to its eventual climax.
‘ASHY TO CLASSY’ is the perfect conclusion to the album, a slow-burning soul number with some of the best rapping on the record, an anthemic hook: ‘Smokin’ good, living good if you ask me’. At this point in the listening experience, the Cam/rev chemistry is an irresistible combo that encourages immaculate beats and perfect rhymes. All in all, this is another fantastic offering from Cam and a sound I hope he continues to pursue. Go bump it right now on his Soundcloud.