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Typically thought of as a machismo-dominated culture, in 2004 hip-hop took an improbable turn when fans began to don a seemingly unmanly pink. The trend - which quickly crossed over from the urban community and into the mainstream - can be traced to a single source: platinum-selling street-favorite rapper and business mogul: Cam'ron.
To set himself apart from other rappers, Cam'ron donned nothing but pink to promote his 1.2 million-selling 2002 album Come Home With Me, even going so far as to purchase a custom bubble-gum pink Range Rover. Fans all over the world took note. The seed was planted, a trend born, but like a true leader, Cam'ron quickly moved .. all, by that point, he had an empire to run.
Born Cameron Giles in Harlem in 1976, Cam'ron has evolved from basketball player and underground rapper to mainstream hip-hop star and style icon, to CEO of his own record label and leader of a true hip-hop movement. Cam'ron began his rap career in the early 90s, rapping alongside heavyweights such as Ma$e and Big L, and officially stepped out on his own at Notorious B.I.G.'s suggestion, releasing 1998's 600,000-selling Confessions of Fire. 1999's effort, S.D.E also sold over 500,00 copies and earmarked Cam'ron as a bankable star with clout.
Flexing this star muscle, Cam'ron introduced his own crew, The Diplomats, which he conceived of as a movement of Harlem life, taken worldwide. His Dip Set have proven a big seller as well; their own two albums (Diplomatic Immunity and Diplomatic Immunity 2) and the solo efforts of Juelz Santana and Jim Jones combine with Cam'ron's sales and their incredibly popular mixtapes to total over 10 million sold. In addition to these big sellers, there are upcoming projects by JR Writer, Hell Rell, and 40 Cal, all with Cam'ron at the helm.
In fact, Cam'ron is the only CEO to maintain three different distribution deals across three different record labels. 2002's Come Home with Me was a major hit for the Harlem rapper, spawning several hits and even a limited-run sell-out cologne titled "Oh Boy" (the name of one smash hit from the album), and his follow up, Purple Haze, seemed like a lock. But when his record label failed to properly promote the 600,000-selling Purple Haze, Cam'ron decided to take his business matters into his own hands. He paid for and shot his own video for radio-favorite "Down and Out" featuring Kanye West and began to look for a new home for himself and his crew, the result being the three separate deals. Cam'ron himself is now signed to Diplomats Records/Asylum with an unprecedented $2.5 million three-year deal; prot..g.. Juelz Santana makes his home at Diplomats Records/Def Jam; the rest of the crew comes to the world via Diplomats Records/Koch. All the profits, ultimately, come back to Killa Cam.
It is the same mentality of owning his own businesses that brought Cam'ron to launch his own liquor in 2004, the cognac-based punch liqueur SIZZURP. Cam'ron owns 50% of the company (the only artist to hold such a large stake in a liquor brand) and personally frequents conventions and stores to increase its sales, as well supporting the brand by cross-promoting it in his videos, music, movies, and print ads. Sold in all the major markets across the nation, the brand is gaining in popularity.
These successes have propelled Cam'ron to branch out even further, with the formation of his own production company, Killa Entertainment, which handles all Cam'ron's videos and has recently started production on a semi-autobiographical movie. Cam'ron is no stranger to the film world - he starred in 2002's "Paid in Full," which was nominated for a Spirit Award and earned Cam'ron rave reviews. His upcoming movie, "Killa Season," though, marks his directorial debut. The film, which details Cam'ron's rise to King of Harlem, will coincide with the release of his much-anticipated newest album, also titled "Killa Season," hitting stores on February 14, 2006.
With the film and album both slated to drop in the first quarter, and a clothing line in the works from this influential fashion trendsetter, spring of 2006 promises to be a "killa season" for Cam'ron, just wait.