Sunday, December 28, 2008

Desert Island Pick #2

I've spent the entire day lying in bed, clutching my stomach in pain, with occasional trips to the bathroom next door to slurp down pepto-bismol and down ibuprofen. Some sort of GI virus no doubt, contracted while at my aunt and uncle's in Rochester celebrating Christmas. On occasions such as this, only one song comes to mind, really the only one I've found that I can relate to during bouts of serious nausea. This would be Cam'ron's 'I.B.S.' off of the Killa Season LP. Actually, this song is so good that I can enjoy it any time of year, even when I'm feeling fit as a fiddle.

The subject matter concerns an uncharacteristically honest account from Cam detailing his struggles with the condition known as Irritable Bowel Syndrome. He explains the onset of the malady in graphic detail: "The pain was no comparison, stomach started cherishin'/ Throwin' up in public, yo fuck it, it was embarrasin'!"  His problems eventually land him in the ER, and under the watch of a skeptical doctor: "In their, no salvage, treated like a cold savage/ They said pimpin symptoms, huh, a dope addict/ So there you have it, but they ain't find no heroin/ Crack, coke, or dope, just weed, but that's my medicine." The second verse center on Cam's day-to-day struggles with his problems, and also the misconceptions they cause: "I'm thinkin' suicide, do-or-die, sit and cry/ What hurt, my baby mom asked me if I'm gettin' high/ She gon' play me a thug, I told the lady I love/ If it ain't hustlin' ma, please don't relate me to drugs!" The end of the second verse finds Killa still unable to diagnose his problem, and in the third verse he narrates a trip to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Cam'ron's remarkable wordplay is on display throughout the song, and is full at evidence in the following lines: "Like a lab rat, them test dishonor Cam/ x-ray, MIR, catscan, sonogram/ Larynoscopy, Inoscopy, I be stressed/ The prognosis, diagnosed, I.B.S."

As you can probably tell, I can quote this song endlessly, and its not unusual to be able to dig up lots of diamonds from a Cam'ron song. However, what really sets this apart from the rest of Cam's past work is 2-fold: First, this is one of the only Cam'ron songs I know to develop a straight-forward, cohesive narrative. After hearing this song, it's hard to criticize any aspect of Cam's rapping ability. His personality however ... This is the second feature of 'I.B.S.' that earns it a place in the stratosphere. Cam'ron tends to come off as an insufferable shithead, one who is all bluster and full of insecurities. Hence his multiple, pointless beefs. However, this song paints an entirely novel picture of Cam, as a man deserving of compassion and understanding. Anyone in my current condition can sympathize with Cam'ron's struggle, and the fact that he tells his story so candidly and with such vulnerability really is refreshing. Thank you, Cam, for giving me something to listen to and identify with on days like this.

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