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Notebook: Dissecting the whimsical wordplay of rapper Cam'ron

By Jackson Howard, Daily Arts Writer
Published March 20, 2013

In 1998, Cam’ron stomped into the hip-hop world with his debut Confessions of Fire. Showcasing hard-hitting East Coast production and Cam’s trademark whimsical wordplay, the album remains as seminal New York rap music. To honor his 15 years in the game, I’ve pulled out a few of my favorite Cam’ron lyrics (out of literally hundreds), which blend the most bizarre things together in a way that only Cam can. Part kindergartener and part genius, I give you the one and only Cam’ron.

“I don’t care if you’re Japanese, Lebanese, Chinese, Siamese, just be from the seven seas” (“Wet Wipes”).

Cam’ron doesn’t discriminate with his women: As long as they’re fine, he pays no attention to where they’re from. I’m just curious; how on earth did Cam come up with this assortment of ethnicities? I understand how you can relate Japan and China, and even though Siam no longer exists as a country, it still falls under Asia — but Lebanon? When has Cam’ron visited Lebanon? Furthermore, the seven seas? When do you ever hear that used outside of Victorian-era pirate folklore?

“You’ll find them out of state / near a lake, some billy bait / gettin’ ate by apes, deers / business snakes” (“Hot Mess”).

Where to start on this one? Not only will Cam’s haters be taken out of the state, they will be thrown out somewhere near a lake, where, presumably, some hillbillies will attack them. OK, that makes some sense. But where the hell does getting eaten by apes and deer(s) come in? First off — the plural of deer is deer. But most importantly, in what god-forsaken ecosystem are apes and deer living in harmony, feasting together? Finally, “business snakes” just ties this whole “Hot Mess” together. I think he’s referring to shady music industry people, but how that has to do with apes and deer eating his haters near a lake is totally over my head.

“Drinking sake on a Suzuki, we in Osaka Bay” (“Down and Out”).

First, I’d like to congratulate Cam’ron on the alliteration here. It sounds nice. But let’s look at the actual words. Cam describes a scene in which, while riding a Suzuki in Osaka Bay, Japan, he’s sipping sake. I’m not sure how he’s managing to do both of these things at the same time, not to mention the obvious drinking-and-driving situation here, but hey, as they apparently say in Cam’s world, “When in Japan … ”

“How you judge me, I get Judge Judy shot / Now sue me ox, I just lay and smile / I’ll rape ya child, they won’t make the trial” (“Kill ‘Em”).

This one always makes me cringe. Did Judge Judy really hand down such a harsh and devastating punishment that Cam wants to get her shot? What on Earth is he doing in Judge Judy’s court anyway? It makes me uncomfortable how happy Cam’ron is saying that he will rape a child. Cam, just a thought, but raping the prosecutor’s child probably won’t make Judge Judy, if she’s still alive, give you an easier sentence. Just saying.

“I get the boosters boosting, I get computers ’puting ” (“Get ‘Em Girls”).

I guess in Cam’ron’s mind, the way computers work is by … “ ’puting.” Really, Cam? Just think for a second. When you get on your computer, do you ’pute? Lord knows what Cam’ron does on his computer, but I know it can’t be ’puting. Even if he’s referring to “computing,” which I doubt, there’s no way Cam’ron is computing anything online. In reality, he probably uses the computer to play hours of “The Oregon Trail.”

“The biscuit turn you to Bisquick mixed with shrimp lo mein” (“Hot 97 Freestyle”).

The thought of raw pancake mix blended with shrimp lo mein makes me nauseous. Naturally, Cam is referring to his gun turning somebody into mush, and I can appreciate the wordplay of “biscuit” and “Bisquick,” yet I can’t understand where shrimp lo mein comes in. Is that supposed to represent organs? Bones? Chinese food the victim had before being shot? Or maybe Cam’ron was just craving some shrimp lo mein. We’ll never know.

“Make China stretch like Yao Ming / Ching chong chinga-linga: Ciao, meng / I’m bilingual ma” (“Hey Lady”)

Cam is saying that he can make the cocaine (China) stash he’s selling expand like the Chinese basketball player Yao Ming. However, I’m most interested in the latter section of this rhyme. Cam tries to speak some Chinese and then proudly states “ciao, meng,” a double-entendre of sorts meaning simply “bye” yet also referencing chow mein. Ah. Clever. But Cam’ron, first of all, “ciao” is Italian. Secondly, just because you said the words “ching chong chinga-linga” does not mean whatsoever that you speak Chinese, and it certainly doesn’t mean you are bilingual! I mean, that doesn’t sound like Chinese at all.

Oh, well. There’s no use going on. I guess Cam’ron will always be Cam’ron. And I hope it stays that way. Here’s to another 15 years of greatness from our generation’s Confucius.


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