Purple Haze

Artist: Cam'RonTitle: Purple HazeRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Martin A. Berrios

When Dr. Dre decided to title his debut The Chronic, he was making a statement. It was a direct reference to the album’s amazing potency, which reflected the California weed that inspired the name. Harlem’s own Cam’ron now follows suit with the release of his long delayed Purple Haze (Roc-a-Fella/Def Jam). As an MC, there has never been a question about Cam’s skill on the microphone. The flow has evolved from a speedy short worded bar cadence to a laid-back delivery with more focus on clever wordplay. The lyrical progression along with his unique sense of style has that kept his name buzzing in the rap game. With Killa at his creative best and beats to match, this fourth solo album is his most complete work to date.

On the Chad Hamilton produced “Get Down,” Cam tastefully boasts of his current riches while reminiscing of his past rags. The visual imagery of him and his crew sharing dollar fifty chicken sandwiches for dinner is a side that is seldom shown by the often self-absorbed MC. The bouncy sped up soul sample driven track, which might reminds some heads of Jigga’s “Hard Knock Life,” provides a fitting musical backdrop for the introspective hood memoir. On the string heavy “Leave Me Alone Part 2,” Cam’s cocky and braggadocio persona shines through with some impressive lines. “I wouldn’t say I was Nino at the Carter/I’m more like the plant in Little Shop Of Horrors/But I don’t say feed me Seymour/I say feed me Dame, feed me Lyor/Epic, they used to feed me detours/Roc-A-Fella, they feed me C-4.”

Fellow label mate Kanye West shows love by cooking up one of the stronger cuts on the project. “Down and Out” finds Cam employing his signature uptown flossy flow as Chicago’s golden boy gives a new twist to the aforementioned production fad, by utilizing R&B song stress Syleena Johnson to sing the sample over on the chorus. Other noteworthy selections are the opera chant influenced “Killa Cam” and the Jahiem assisted “More Reasons.”

On the production tip, Purple Haze is sonically sound. The variety of producers provides the listener with a fluid mixture of different vibes musically. As one of the first rappers to rock over a TV themed instrumental (“357”), it is only logical that Ty-Tracks supplies Cam with the Hills Street Blues sampling “Harlem Streets.” The Legendary Traxster also utilizes some eerie synthesized bass guitar on the Twista and Psycho Drama collaboration “Adrenaline.” He adds the infamous Ohio Player’s “Funky Worm” flute sound popularized by late great Eazy-E (“Dope Man”) for added effect.

Although Cam’rom succeeds when he does what comes natural to him, he fails horribly when he takes a stab at crafting radio friendly singles. His attempt at recreating the magic of his 2002 hit “Hey Ma” with “Hey Lady” sounds incredibly forced. You’ll also be left asking yourself why did he take it there when you hear his rendition of Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” (“Girls”). Additionally the album could have been a tighter package less the five forgettable skits.

Hate him or love him, Cam’ron delivers a solid album. Purple Haze will surprise some non-believers with its catchy flows and on point production. Let’s just hope he doesn’t have everyone rocking Barney edition Air 1’s in between the release of his next joint.