TWO THE HARD WAY
A-Trak and Cam'Ron have the secret recipe for the most anticipated collaboration of the season. Just Mix Fool’s Gold and Dipset—and throw in a Dash of Damon.
INTERVIEW BY DONNIE KWAK
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JUSTIN HOGAN
VIDEO BY RIK CORDERO
Before the music, they bonded over shrimp—Killa shrimp, to be precise—seasoned to perfection by “Killa” Cameron Giles as a way of welcoming his new friend, Alain “A-Trak” Macklovitch, to his home.
Exactly how did this odd couple end up together in the ’burbs of New Jersey, feasting on Killa shrimp? Well, it turns out that Cam’ron and A-Trak have a lot in common. Both are highly creative artists and disarmingly polite men who share an unwavering belief that Cam’ron is the best rapper of his generation. And—most important—they have a mutual friend in Damon Dash, Ultimate Hustler™.
So when A-Trak hit up his old acquaintance Dame in an effort to get Cam for a song, the wheels for the Federal Reserve EP quickly went into motion. Dame, being the world’s most renowned Cam Whisperer (with apologies to Miss Info), got into his old buddy’s ear and convinced him that A-Trak’s idea for a song had greater potential as a full project. Fool’s Gold. Dipset. Festivals. Merch. Synergy! Or, as Dame puts it, understated as ever: “It’s that kind of magic where two serious legends that are ridiculously good at what they do come together.”
Now back to Cam’s kitchen: To record the EP, Dame would scoop A-Trak from his Williamsburg apartment in his Suburban and they’d make the interminably long trek from BK to Cam’s crib in Jersey. There, Cam would cook for his guests—steak, lamb, Killa shrimp—before hitting his home studio, where A-Trak would play his sublime beats and Cam would lay his inimitable raps. “With Cam,” says A-Trak, “we show up, we record, it’s done.” And so, over the course of a few autumn nights stretched over several months, the songs on Federal Reserve were born.
The end result is everything you’d anticipate from an A-Trak x Cam’ron project—but better. Cam being Cam over A-Trak’s versatile production is already an easy sell, but consider that the French-Canadian beat miner layered some gravy and cheese on his fries by enlisting famous friends like Just Blaze and AraabMuzik as co-producers. “To spruce up the tracks,” says A-Trak, humbly. On the other side of the booth, Juelz Santana and Jim Jones drop guest vocals to give the project the full Dipset blessing.
And Mr. Dash? Executive producer, obviously. But also, by popular demand, back in the booth, at his “Champions”–era, Champagne Dame “I got niggas that will assassinate you, B…lyrically!!!” best. It just feels right, doesn’t it?
We sat down with A-Trak and Cam’ron to talk about the making of Federal Reserve, their favorite Cam records of all time, and Dame’s most memorable vocabulary lesson.