Cam’ron is cementing his legend by fully embracing the Internet. Call it Killa 3.0.

Even as Cam’ron sits before me, in a studio packed with management, writers, and videographers, he isn’t entirely here. That’s because the Harlem rapper and Diplomats co-founder known for his playfully acrobatic rhymes never truly occupies one space completely. Decked out in a custom Dipset football jersey, a black fitted, and Jordans, Cam’ron is here in the physical sense, but he is simultaneously elsewhere—omnipresent, reaching far corners of the Internet even as he recounts some X-rated story about a sexual conquest in his first car, a 600-series Mercedes Benz. “This kinda nasty, but um,” he begins.

In hip-hop lore, Cameron Ezike Giles is many things: hustler, rap linguist, actor, style icon, “Stop Snitchin” vanguard, hero, traitor, brother, friend, a lover of fine things and fine women. He is the architect of a sound and a movement in hip-hop that upheld New York City as a force in the early 2000s even as it struggled for supremacy over the then-dominant South. That Cam’ron still endures, 15 years after his Confessions of Fire debut, is a testament to the kind of Uptown hustle he mastered as a teenager. Which is to say opportunistic ingenuity, timing, and a little bit of luck all played a part in his rise.

“This is more than music,” rapped Juelz Santana, Cam’s protégé, on Dipset’s first collaborative effort, Diplomatic Immunity. It’s a telling line for a group that has been defined by the good times just as much as the bad times. But in truth, it has always been about more than the music for Cam’ron. His memorable role as ruthless pretty boy Rico in the 2002 film Paid In Full was followed four years later by Killa Season, his directorial and screenwriting debut. Even back then, it was clear that Cam’s vision saw beyond hip-hop pastures. 

 

When Cam joined Vine, the instant video-sharing app, in June, he did so with characteristic flair. With the help of his fiancée JuJu, a personality in her own right, and Cousin Bang, Cam’ron created a mini-film in seven six-second clips. It was a love story told in a way that only Cam could tell it.

 

Perhaps Cam’s most infamous on-screen turn was on, of all places, FOX News. In the fall of 2003, Cam’ron appeared alongside Dame Dash on The O’Reilly Factor, hosted by conservative pundit Bill O’Reilly. The rapper and rap mogul sounded off on Salome Thomas-El, an elementary school principal, who felt the two should accept responsibility for the violence and misogyny rap often portrays. This, of course, was the infamous interview that would beget Cam’ron’s “You mad?” catchphrase, which to this day is one of the Internet’s favorite rejoinders. It wouldn’t be the first or last moment to define Cam outside of his rap métier.

Lucid. Free-flowing. Defiant. Each of Cam’ron’s six studio albums is an exercise in language and economy. At times his flow is boundless and fluid, at other times tight-woven and restricted. His most recent mixtape, Ghetto Heaven Vol. 1, was released in early October to much acclaim. The New York Times hailed Cam’ron as “the most modern of rappers. On this mixtape he mentions emoji, Twitter and Instagram without inducing cringes.” One new track, which details a hazard of our current social-media moment, is titled “Instagram (Catfish).” The Times continues: “He’s not turning away from the future. Instead, he’s showing off his new toys, and using them for his own purposes.”

But Cam’ron’s embrace of social media wasn’t always so seamless. “I used to be against Twitter and all that,” he says, “but it kind of gets addicting once you get a feel of it.” Over time, Cam started to appreciate the transparency. “The thing that I like about it the most is that you get to correspond with fans and you get to talk to people and see how people really feel about stuff. Like on Instagram, people are arguing on my page about things that have nothing to do with the picture. It turns into a whole argument and sometimes I’ll jump in the argument. It’s just a way to communicate with people.”

When I asked him what he thought it was about his Instagram that resonated most with his 315,000-plus followers, he replied:  “I like to put stuff that people are really going through, you know what I’m saying? A recent post has a female smashing a guy’s face into a computer, like ‘Oh, who is this bitch?’ or some shit like that. I really know people who go through stuff like that.”

When Cam joined Vine, the instant video-sharing app, in June, he did so with characteristic flair. With the help of his fiancée  JuJu, a personality in her own right, and Cousin Bang, Cam’ron created a mini-film in seven six-second clips. It was a love story told in a way that only Cam could tell it.

In fact, the thread that connects Cam’ron’s social-media strategy, across all platforms, is that it is all quintessentially Cam. Take, for instance, when he Instagrammed a picture of NBA baller Chris Bosh’s wife last year. In the photo she smiles happily, flanked by two gentlemen (neither are Bosh); the caption reads: “My man @britishthetitan been had bosh wifey under wing b4 Wayne. Lol she use to be pissy drunk in my club in da Cinncinati.” Or the time he subtweeted Kanye West: “Pyrex and a skirt? Shit ain’t adding up. Ima have to save us.” Cam has openly dissed Kim Kardashian on Twitter; videotaped the 17 stripper poles in his home; and has championed topical memes from The Cosby Show. It’s a small window into the part of Cam’s brain that makes him such a compelling rapper: clever, abrasive, and tactless—with a healthy dose of no-fucks-given.  

Ever on the move, up next is a buzzed-about web series, 1st of the Month, which is sure to be consummate Killa. “There’s so many gaps in between urban movies like Paid In FullBellyBoyz N Tha HoodFriday. When The Wire was on, everybody was loving running home to [watch] it, then they went off the air. So instead of shooting a movie and everybody seeing it at one time, [I decided to] spread it out and put it out every month,” he recently told karencivil.com. “That way it won’t be such a drought in between projects.

As always, the amorphous rhyme slinger is playing by his own rules—and the rewards, so far, have been bountiful. Cam’ron is not a paragon of Internet virtue, and yet in a time when the web is becoming increasingly saturated with content, he has rightfully, and finally, staked his claim. “All this stuff I got going on I need to basically put under one umbrella. Not saying that we won’t do Twitter, Instagram, or a YouTube channel, it just all needs to be under one umbrella.” He pauses before continuing. “I just like to have fun. For me it’s more entertainment than anything else.” And are we not entertained?