There’s an old saying that goes, “You only get one chance to make a first impression.” Or was that an old shampoo slogan?
Either way, Atlanta’s new rap-star-in-the-making K Camp probably doesn’t believe it. Because if you look back at his young career, he’s already had three chances—the most recent being his hit single “Money Baby.” Since last fall, the song has grown legs on its own, running marathons on radio station playlists and nightclubs nationwide. The accompanying mixtape In Due Time has been getting so much love on the web that LiveMixtapes “re-released” the tape earlier this month, weeks after its original December 12 drop date.
The tape's title speaks to the key factor of K Camp's success: timing. Born in Milwaukee but raised on Atlanta’s Northside, K Camp has had a name on Atlanta’s rap scene since 2009, when he started performing on the open mic circuit alongside fellow newcomers Travis Porter and Waka Flocka Flame. His local hit “All Night” got popular with the college crowd, but failed to break elsewhere. Meanwhile, the other aforementioned artists wound up scoring national hits that would boost their profiles.
After trying college, dropping out, and working a job at the movie theater, Camp found himself with yet another golden opportunity, this time appearing on Myko Montana’s 2012 club hit “Do It.” If you’re scratching your head asking, “really, he’s on that song?” don’t worry, you aren’t the only one who doesn't know. There were actually times when Camp wondered if he was on the song himself. Although he wrote the hook, he found himself left out of the track's success, due to what he calls “shady business.”
Fast forward to now, and K Camp has yet another shot at stardom, and he doesn’t plan on letting this one slip away. Read on to hear his story: how setbacks became set ups for bounce backs, and how a six pack of Lime-A-Rita’s may have inspired his next hit.
Interview by Maurice Garland (@Maurice_Garland)
When did you first start making music?
I had a group in high school called HBC [Head Busser Clique]. That was during the Crime Mob era, so we was just rapping about fighting and all that bullshit. But I was the only one who wanted to do it on a serious level. My friends just wanted to do it because it was fun and we was getting hoes at the time. I loved the sound of hearing my voice on records, that shit was just cool to me.
My friend Dave had a studio set up in his house, so I would go over there and record. I wound up having to learn how to record myself. But that wasn’t even my first love. I was hooping when I was in high school, but I couldn’t play my senior year, so I was pretty much just going to school and fucking around.
I went to college because my mom wanted me to, but it just wasn’t me. I wound up dropping out after a couple of months. Even for the short time I was down there, I was rapping, burning CDs, passing them out. But folks was just throwing them on the ground, so I was getting that treatment.
I was rapping, burning CDs, passing them out. But folks was just throwing them on the ground.
What did you do after dropping out?
I had a little job at the movie theatre, just paying bills. I’d still jump in the studio every once in a while. At that time I didn’t see myself having a rap career; I just liked rapping. I didn’t really get that deep into it. I was just making stuff and letting people hear it.
When I left school I had nothing else left but the music so I just went extra hard with that. That’s how I wound up with my song “Up All Night.” I would perform it at all the open mics, all the clubs on the Northside. I wound up getting a manager around that time too, who was a big club promoter on the Northside.
Looking back, I introduced him to A1 Supergroup around that time too. But yeah, my song was one of the top three songs in the city. It was me, Waka Flocka with “Oh Let’s Do It” and Travis Porter with “All The Way Turnt Up.” [Ed note—That song actually belonged to Roscoe Dash, but gained notoriety from being on Travis Porter’s mixtape.]
Why didn’t your song blow up outside Atlanta?
Bad business, not knowing the game. I got signed too early to a label that didn’t know what was up. Me and my manager at the time, we only knew how to work the clubs. We didn’t know the politics as far as the radio. We just knew how to party. When the record was supposed to hit that next level, we didn’t know what to do. It was just a lot of bullshit that happened and it fell by the wayside. I still hear the song in the club to this day.
When that song came and went, I really had to sit down and figure out what I was going to do next. Me and my old manager are still cool to this day, but I had to tell him that I couldn’t allow anybody else to be in charge of my life. So that’s when I made my mom my manager. My mom had no clue about the agency, she had to learn by going to different events and talking to TJ Chapman [Ed. Note—TJ Chapman is now on K Camp's management team].
It was crazy, she quit her job and everything. Put an office in the crib, studio in my room. I just started recording my ass off. Then I messed around and got a DUI and got my license taken. A year later I wound up meeting and hooking up with Myko Montana.
Before we get into that…what was it like going to club with your mom?
[Laughs.] I wasn’t going to the club with my mom. We was going to networking events. She was going hard and getting it done. I remember my 11th and 12th grade year I was telling her I wanted to be a rapper, she looked at me like I was crazy. But when she saw that I was actually out here making a way, she decided to go ahead and help me out. Now my mom know every word to all my songs.
Even “Cut That Bitch Off?”
Yes, my mom knows all the words to “Cut That Bitch Off.” I remember the first song she ever heard of mine was some silly song called “Cocky Bitches” and she snapped on me. But now she’s singing “Cut That Bitch Off”—shit crazy.
Okay, now tell about meeting Myko.
I met Myko at Mariachi. That’s the club that Waka and Travis Porter blew up out of. We was both signed to Playmaker Entertainment, I had told the CEO about Myko and he went and found him and signed him. One day he called me like, “Let's get in the lab,” so I told him pull up to the crib. He had the "Do It" beat. I wrote the hook, re-orchestrated the beat, everything. I was supposed to lay a verse on it, but on the original he had like 4 18-bar verses; the song was long as shit.
I couldn’t put another verse on that long ass-song. So I just stayed on the hook. But I was already planning on dropping my own project, so what I was going to do was be on Myko record and then start promoting my stuff once that song got going. But when my tape hit, the song with Myko was getting all of the attention.
So I hit him like, “Yo, you need to run with this. You got a hit.” When he saw the reaction, he changed his single from this other song he had. But, after a while, he went left on me and left me out in the cold. I didn’t get the proper recognition. I was hardly in the video. I ain’t get no shows off of it either. There was a point where I hated that fucking song because of that.
He just took the record and just went "No K Camp." We had a plan to both turn up with the song and both win, but it didn’t go like that. I kinda knew it was going to happen. I didn’t feel comfortable at the video shoot at all. It just felt like I was in the shadows. But I never complained or got on Twitter or none of that shit. I just chalked it up as a lesson.
That you can’t trust nobody. The industry is full of shady motherfuckers. Get all the paper work right before you agree to do a feature.
So at that point, it seemed like another missed opportunity. What happened next?
When that came and went, that’s when I hooked up with another company. I hooked up with JR who used to manage the Joker from Myspace. I was in that same position that I was the first time: I didn’t know what the next level was supposed to be. My mama didn’t know what to do either, so we decided to make JR my manager and she became my booking manager. Then I hooked up with producer Big Fruit. We kept putting out songs, catchy songs, but they didn’t catch on. We were taking steps to build me up. I wound up coming up with the song “Money Baby,” which actually started off as a freestyle.
Here I am, just making a song, being mad at some chick. Now I got a hit.
I needed to put somebody on there that was in the streets. I hollered at Kwony Cash because he had a buzz from being on Rich Homie Quan’s tape. I sent him the beat, and it wasn’t even called “Money Baby” at the time, it was called “I Like.” Kwony got in and killed the shit. I ain’t even lay a verse on the song until three weeks later. I started playing it at my kickbacks and people was loving it.
We sent it to DJ Ace for CIAA. DJ MLK heard it and found me, asking me about it—it wasn’t even out yet. He asked me what I was doing with it. He was talking about putting Drake and Wayne on it. I was excited about that shit, but then we was waiting for so long to hear something back, we just went ahead and made a cover and put it out. He was playing it at [the nightclub] Taboo II but the song wasn’t out. When we put a face on the song, it just went crazy.
A lot of people found the song on YouTube before they heard it in the club.
That’s how folks found it, on YouTube. In 2-3 weeks it was at 200K views, but YouTube came and deleted it because we used the old Nirvana Nevermind cover. So they called it copyright infringement. I was so muthafuckin’ pissed. I ain’t never got that many views on YouTube. We had to re-upload it, but it wound up getting back where it was supposed to be.
So now you have another hit song.
Yes, and I’m putting the foot on the gas this time. I done did this shit twice. I can’t let it happen again. I really gotta turn up this time. Ain’t no telling if or when the next record gonna come, so I had to turn the fuck up.
Well, you kind of have a “next record” now with “Cut That Bitch Off.” How did that come about?
Well, I’m always recording. With “Cut That Bitch Off,” Will-A-Fool sent me some beats. I was recording at the crib, and I had this little chick who was about to pull up. She shot me a text like “what you doing?” I’m like “I’m recording, pull up,” and she was like “OK.” In my head I’m like "Bet." I’ve been trying to hit this chick for a minute. So left the studio, this is around 11 p.m., so the liquor store closed.
So I run to the gas station to get some Lime-A-Ritas. I’m pulling off, and see a car looking like it’s going to my house, she hit me like “is that you that just passed me?” I’m like “Yeah, what’s up. I’m running to the gas station.” Two minutes go by and she’s like “I’m about to leave.” Fuck you mean you about to leave? I’m like "A'ight fuck it then." Now I’m pissed. I done spent my money, bought these fucking Lime-A-Ritas and she pull that monkey shit? On top of that she already had a boyfriend so she out here creeping and shit.
So I go back to the crib, and start listening to beats. I just started freestyling, “it ain’t shit to cut that bitch off.” Me and potna laughing at that shit and I just started saying "So what you got a man hoe?" I freestyled the whole record. I recorded it in 30 minutes. My folks messed around and played it in the club, and people was fucking with it.
I wasn’t really trying to push it because I still had “Money Baby” out. I didn’t want “Cut Her Off” as a single I just wanted it as a street song that got legs. Next thing I know 2 Chainz reached out wanting to hop on it, then T.I. hit me too. Here I am, just making a song, being mad at some chick. Now I got a hit.