Great Spirits: Cali Queen ill Camille Returns To Rap With Newfound Dopeness And Depth!

ILL CAMILLE IS BACK! : something of special value handed down from one generation to another

Ill Camille is an heirloom of Hip-Hop. First of all, those that know the California emcee realize her unique worth inherently. She’s oozes “special.” Secondly, her talents as a lyricist and writer are in the rich tradition of African griots of old that have recorded our stories through the generations. So, it is more than fitting that Camille’s new album is called Heirloom.

Heirloom is a heavy, lengthy gaze into the growth of a warrior woman, with a depth that’s rarely represented in rap these days. “I am a makeup of everybody that raised me. Everybody I been around. Everybody I been in a relationship with. Friendship. So the conversations…experiences. The time. All heirlooms,” ill Camille tells AllHipHop. “I put it in the music and created an heirloom of my own and realized we are an heirloom of our ancestors.” It is also the culminate of her many collaborations with the luminous likes of Kurupt, Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, Bobby Valentino, Damani Nkosi, Ty Dolla$ign, BJ the Chicago Kid and others like Robert Glasper.

When the album hits on March 06, 2017, it undoubtedly continues a renaissance rap music experienced just a couple years ago. We are talking evolution and honesty and patience with the likes of Camp Lo, Deion, Mmykk Shevy, TDE’s SiR, Damani and others contributing. It has been years since ill Camille blessed listeners with an audio saga. This is the culmination of the past, present and, believe it or not…the future.

AllHipHop: What can fans (old and new) get from this album?

iLL Camille: A sense of maturity. I haven’t put out an album since 2012, rightfully so. Needed to grow and go through things. I needed to play the back a little bit and get back to myself. I changed the title from illustrated b-sides, something DJ Battlecat prompted. He told me the name of my album doesn’t match the soundscape…undermines it. And I felt that was true, but was too afraid to make the change. For a whole two years I kept talking about “illustrated b-sides” and now I’ma change it? (laughs) I didn’t wanna look indecisive. But the title change was necessary. More fitting.

AllHipHop: Rap has changed a lot and maturity seems to be an afterthought. What do you think of “the game” these days.

iLL Camille: Rap seems to be the only genre that isn’t friendly to evolution…to the grown folks. And I don’t know why…I don’t have the answer for that but I can only do my part, as I grow, to reflect my growth in my music and show love to others that do. Well it was really a photoshoot. I wanted to recreate the “Great Day in Harlem” shoot right here in the neighborhood I grew up in for most of my life. My father’s side …View Park.  All of my family and friends…people that contributed directly or indirectly to this album and, my life in general, were there. My photographer homeboy captured this and I wasn’t fully aware that he did that. Pleasant surprise. Peace to Slaucienega.

AllHipHop: How was it working with Georgia Anne Muldrow on Home? And Damani was there when we first met in LA.

iLL Camille: Working with Georgia Anne is a blessing because she’s always her and she’s always rooting for me to be me. That’s where we connect. Damani too. They are different types of people, and the music just comes out naturally when working with them both. “Home” brought us three together.

AllHipHop: I know this is cliche – be we are all longing for other “feminine” voices in Hip-Hop. Does this matter to you any more?

iLL Camille: If there were only representation in music coming from women, I’d be wondering where the brothas are. That balance is necessary. Aint no yall without us and vice versa. Our stories matters. They are unique and our own. I got my own thing and I just wanna be able to say it in a way that makes sense to me, in my lifetime. It matters to communicate it through music. Yes.

AllHipHop: The album cover is pretty iconic, classic. Talk about that a bit.

iLL Camille: Thank you so much. My brotha in Brazil did it. We built a solid friendship over a 4 yr period. Guisoares aka “I Chase Ballons” found me after Snoop Dogg posted my video for “Live It Up” on his Underground Heat segment. He’s a visionary from Rio. We stayed in communication. We talked about our lives. Families. His new baby girl “Lizzy.” Our cultures. Politics. Real friendship. He is the reason I love Brazil and ain’t never been. So much meaning and ancestral connection in the cover. He can explain it better than me…but he created an heirloom of my own.

AllHipHop: Is Heirloom your “Miseducation”?

iLL Camille: “Miseducation” is still “Miseducation” to me and for me. It still has that effect on me. But no, this is my Heirloom. The first time I accepted my responsibility as a woman, and as an artist and did an album based on acknowledgement of that. I’m just starting.

AllHipHop: Boom. You mentioned in an interview that kids can listen to this. As a father, this is important. Why is that important to you?

iLL Camille: Believe it or not, it’s some kids that are more self-aware than adults. We spend our whole lives getting back to ourselves. It wasn’t until I got around some of the smartest, honest, intuitive kids, that I realized, I need to tap into my inner child again. That’s when I loved the music and me more. I thought more practically. Talked to God more. I put kids throughout this record. They taught me a lot, and I think I can teach them a lot. Let your daughter listen to it

AllHipHop: You know I will!

Photo: @Slaucienega

Tracklist For Heirloom:

Black Gold
Warrior/Sankofa feat. Camp Lo, Deion, Mmykk Shevy
Trust Me feat. Sha’leah Nikole & SiR
Home feat Damani Nkosi
Almost There feat SiR
Live it Up feat Iman Omari
Fight On feat Preston Harris & Damani Nkosi
Spider’s Jam feat Georgia Anne & JaVonte’
Slip Away feat Amaru
Again feat The Fernando Pullum Creative Arts Center, Ryck Jane, and Marcus Garvey Elementary
Still a Lady feat Tiffanie Cross, Shava’sha Dickerson, and Wyann Vaughn
Sao Paulo feat Punch & Rose Gold
Few Days ft. JaVonte’ & Marknoxx