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Cam'ron 

Purple Haze (Roc-A-Fella)

Cameron Giles' rise to rap stardom is a tale of perseverance. Although he received a push from Mase, Cam'ron struggled to move beyond one-hit-wonder status after minor success with 1998's "Horse and Carriage." After a pair of weak albums, most rappers would give up. But not Cam'ron. Like a phoenix, Killa Cam reappeared with a Kanye West-powered single ("Oh Boy") and a deal with Jay-Z's Roc-A-Fella records. 2002's Come Home With Me went platinum. But more impressively, he did it while wearing a lot of pink.

Aside from misogyny excessive even for rap and unreasonably specific references to the crack game, the brilliance of Cam (and his crew, the Diplomats) lies in sheer weirdness. Cam'ron spits dadaist lyrics that rival backpacker icon MF Doom's, while fellow Diplomat Juelz Santana uses as few words as he can get away with, filling bars with repeated words when out of ideas.

Cam'ron may have changed his favorite color to purple, but the new album still has outlandish by the kilo. To start, the lead single ("Girls") flips Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" for a hook (unfortunately, his remake of Salt-N-Pepa's "Push It" did not make the album). On "Get 'Em Girls," Killa Cam flows over a creeping operatic sample of a chorus saying "killer" repeatedly. The track has been around for a few months, but he still sounds great threatening, "I'll leave you holey-holey/You say holy-moley." Producers the Heatmakerz dig up an Eastern-sounding chant of "killa cam, killa killa cam" for the beat on "Killa Cam." And Cam even references his pink Range Rover: "I got Pataki at me/ Bitches say I'm tacky daddy/Range look like Laffy Taffy." Nice.

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More by Andrew Friedman

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