Max Bell used to get it in Sherman Oaks.

Cam’ron’s Ghetto Heaven Vol. 1 is here. No more rumors. No delays. The first official Cam’ron solo project since Crime Pays, expectations were high for those with pink Avirex Jackets and rhinestone studded throwbacks gathering dust in their closets. Thankfully, Cam has come back as real as ever, and the wait was worth it.

For me, this mixtape is one of the most fun rap records of the year. Cam takes himself seriously enough for you to believe him, but cracks jokes and jokes and jokes at every turn. Though he might claim the opposite (“I don’t have time to tell you haters jokes”), Cam has straight-faced, self-aware, and often sexually perverse bars in spades. And, much like Louie C.K., he can’t resist the obvious, head shaking and hilarious juvenile dick joke (“I gagged her and let her breathe / she said you take my breath away” or “Not Jamaican, but I gave her my jerk sauce” or “I nutted on her face, baby that’s just a baby shower”). Also, “Instagram (Catfish)” is so blunt about false advertising in the world of digital dating that you can’t help but think Cam is trying not to laugh when he half-raps, half-croons lines like, “You ain’t what I saw in that picture / You lied when you said no filter, baby.” Someone give this man an SNL digital short.

This carefree playfulness also extends to beat selection. Only the man who once turned Cyndi Lauper’s biggest hit into a bouncy banger could flip Cults’ “Outside,” the Golden Girls theme song, and “The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Wimba Way”) on the same record, much less pull it off without sounding corny.

All that said Killa is still Killa. In other words, “the last thing [he] want to do is hurt you, [but]  “it’s still on the list” (“Told You Wrong”). The drugs, violence (Cam even gets egged), and corner-hugging hustler philosophizing are there, drawn vividly and with a vocabulary I think unparalleled amongst many rappers who’ve had radio hits (i.e. “Down and Out”). Who else rhymes “youth” and “uncouth” these days?

The fact that Cam’ron is still this good should cement his place on the next click-baiting list “The Top 50 Greatest Rappers of All Time.” Yes — I said it, I meant it, and I will politely ignore your arguments otherwise in the comments section and on Twitter. Killa Season 2 will ostensibly be out this year. I’m so amped I actually looked for an Avirex jacket online. Sadly, they appear to only be in Japan now. But if Riff Raff shot dice with Larry Bird in Barcelona, maybe one day Cam and I will drink sake on a Suzuki in Osaka Bay.

Because rappers are often much better at succinctly articulating things — it’s their job — I leave you with words from mind-expanding drug connoisseur and prescient D-town sage Danny Brown (his Rolling Stone interview is obligatory reading), who proves that one man’s dyed Wallabees can easily be another man’s Laffy Taffy Timbs:

“Cam’ron was a guy like Raekwon and Ghostface… He rapped good. He dressed nice. I was influenced by him a lot. He was all about being flamboyant, not caring what people say, and just doing what you want. He was doing the whole pink thing. That was ill to me. I look up to Cam. He ain’t never going anywhere. Cam is like a boss. He’s like E-40. Any time he wants to come back and ruin shit, he can.”




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