Release Date: May 12, 2009
Record label: Asylum
After the polarizing scrap with his crew, the Diplomats, there was heavy speculation as to whether Cam'ron could create another album of Purple Haze's calibre without his backing team. The short answer is no - not yet, at least. [rssbreak] Now, before you hurl a Salvatore Ferragamo loafer at me, please note: this album really is great. It just happens to be completely different from his past offerings.
The low sales of 2006's Killa Season took the Dipset member off his album every-two-years-schedule with this follow-up landing in 2009. Even if Cam'ron's delivery -- sort of a rigid mumble -- and his lyrics -- strange and nasty as he wants to be -- all suggest he just doesn't give a damn, Crime Pays seems like a definite reaction to the dwindling numbers right down to the modest gear the rapper sports on the cover. This is a back to basics effort with no superstar Lil Wayne guest shot, and plenty of mixtape flavored production mostly from the hands of Skitzo or araabMUZIK.
Our current financial difficulties haven't stopped the incessant need to find trends in anything, and the result has been dozens of publications proclaiming the fashionability of frugality. This has worked out extremely well for not only people who were cheap before it somehow became cool, but unexpectedly, for many rappers who have either passed their commercial peak or never really experienced one in the first place. No longer cowed by unrealistic expectations, either self-imposed or label-imposed, guys like Scarface, Styles P, Beanie Sigel, Freeway, Slim Thug, and Jim Jones are putting out highly enjoyable, no-frills records with low overhead, proving all along that some rappers just need a decent beat and everyone else to stay out of their way.
Cam’ron, both as a rapper and as a person, has always been celebrated for his eccentricities: the ruthlessly efficient but wildly complex couplets delivered with disquieting nonchalance; the pink minks and the pink cars; the era-defining vocabulary. Looking back, Cam’s persona seems even more refreshing in hindsight than it did at the time, living as we do now in the era where every third-rate rapper is claiming that someone else is biting their swagger and where it’s more fashionable to claim to be from Mars than the right project. His career as an album artist peaked with 2005’s Purple Haze.
A three-year break between studio albums hasn’t changed Cam’ron’s game in the least. He’s still dutifully reciting his supposed criminal exploits, gleefully threatening to brutalize his enemies, and compulsively demeaning women — and, thankfully, he’s still redeeming those deadly boring cliches with inventive rhyme schemes and a well-developed sense of sarcasm. Crime Pays also continues the Harlem hustler’s habit of occasionally branching out into more original subject matter with ”I Hate My Job,” an Office Space-style cubicle drone’s anthem that ranks among his finest tracks to date.