The West coast is always full of surprises. Thanks to the tightness of the scene and the amount of love local artists show each other, folks you figured either retired or quit were actually just biding their time to come out again on the sly. Thus we have Kam – a one-time protege of Ice Cube probably best known for anthemic and politically (pro-black) slanted songs such as “Peace Treaty” and “Y’all Don’t Hear Me Doe.” He’s been kicking around for a few minutes with cameo appearances on the Bulworth and 3 Strikes soundtracks, but he hasn’t released a full length album since 1995’s “Made in America.”
And with a 95% absence from the game for over six years, he’s brand spanking new to all but 5% of his audience. As a result he has toned down (but not altogether abandoned) his fiery N.O.I. rhetorhic in exchange for a low-ride and some khakis with a crease. Kam was always a gangster rapper though – it’s just this time he is putting politics second and the groove first on “Kamnesia” and it shows right from the title track. Production by Jazze Pha and a sung hook make this song so smooth that ballers will drop the top and bounce the hydraulics – you just can’t hate. Kam has some subtle jewels in the lyrics though for everyone who tried to play his career to the curb:
“See you never kick a man when he down
Cause he might get back up again and straight clown
Y’all thought y’all got away scot free? (nah)
How come y’all niggaz never came and got me
when y’all was gettin paid, you didn’t have time to
or didn’t want to see me outshine you
Back then, it wasn’t hard to get at me though
But now I’m like Leonardo DiCaprio”
Kam’s strengths are two-fold on this album. Vocally, Kam has a deep and commanding voice which has always brought his message up above any track he’s on – equal parts Eightball and Chuck D. Musically, the production throughout is far above the average. Hit Coolio producer Bryan “Wino” Dobbs hooks up a beat on “What I Look Like” that’s a damn good imitation of the Neptunes, and also laces the tracks “Active”, “Bang Bang” featuring Mystic and the all-star “They Like Dat” including Jayo Felony and Yukmouth. Jazze Pha produces the title track and “Bounce Trick” while a smattering of producers lace the other tracks, including Jimmy ‘Klev’ Juarez, Doug Rasheed, and the Co-Stars.
The most surprising track of the whole album is probably “Giddie Up,” a song whose title and beat would at first give you the impression it’s an ode to bumpin uglies. Count on Kam to switch up just when you weren’t looking – this song includes both clever allusions to the internet in it’s second verse and an ingrained message of self-conciousness and right mindstate that would make even KRS-One proud.
“A severe requital for a crooked system
Clear recital from the book of wisdom
that I stop to read, droppin seeds
Choppin weeds as I pop my steez
And if they don’t wanna budge we force fools
But don’t judge me ’til you walked in my horseshoes
It’s good news and a warnin
So nigga take two of these, and call me in the mornin”
This album’s most serious mistakes come right after this excellent song. First there is “The Godbrotha Intro” – and if you’re not already snickering at the ridiculousness of a “Godbrotha” you’ll be straight blowed by a fool trying to sound like Eddie Griffin, trying to sound like Tony Soprano, convincing Kam to take over the family reigns. The actual “Godbrotha” track is not much better – the Jimmy ‘Klev’ Juarez beat is too weak to cement together corny mafioso themes from Kam into a concrete whole. Juarez is not a weak producer though – he laces what might be the hardest riding beat of the whole album on “Have a Fit” which also has some humorously clever “Wheel of Fortune” samples.
Kam’s album is a mixed bag. If you hit random on your CD player you might hit something fiery and stomping like “Wardance” or something smoothed out like “Let’s Hook Up” which sounds like it could easily make the urban top 40. For those who still remember Kam from the 90’s, this album will be something of a surprise from a rapper who seemed almost one-dimensional in his pro-black political slant. For those who know nothing about him except the included track “Where I Come From” from the 3 Strikes soundtrack, this album will be a pleasant surprise from a rapper they probably thought was one-dimensional in Westside ridin. It’s far from a perfect album, but it’s a nice serving of beats and rhymes from a rapper who left behind his 90’s contemporaries and sounds up to date in the 21st century.