People love to wax poetic about the longevity of artists like Jay Z and Nas, but what about Killa Cam? He’s been around since the Children Of The Corn days in the early ’90s, when he would spark Stretch and Bobbito freestyles and regularly jump on posse cuts with Big L, Ma$e and Herb McGruff. He made a movement out of The Diplomats and carved out his own principality in Jay Z’s Roc-A-Fella kingdom. He made pink cool, and then he made purple even cooler. These days he’s extending his cultural cachet by any means, whether it’s through Instagram or fashion. If Darwin had any bitches, he would have foreseen Cam’ron as the most adaptable rapper in the world.
As we wait for his project with A-Trak to drop (don’t hold your breath for those monthly mixtapes), we went back and looked at Cam’s features throughout the different phases of his career. Walk with us as we count down Cam’ron’s 20 Best Guest Verses. Pause.
20. Hot Ones “Good Morning America” (Feat. Cam’ron) 
Cam flaunts a mix of bravado and technical skill on this Dame Grease beat that you could easily mistake for Swizz Beatz production.
19. Charli Baltimore “NBC” (Feat. Cam’ron & Noreaga) 
Cam makes his first verse a contender by admitting that he still wets the bed, and then flipping that seemingly embarrassing detail into a defiant pimp move—peeing on Celine Dion. That’s an essential strength of his: take something that’s usually damning and make it cool as fuck.
By the way, Charli Baltimore had Mobb Deep, Ghostface, Cam, and beats by RZA on this album. I don’t want to know how that happened.
18. Cory AK “5 Men And A Mic” (Feat. Cam’ron)
Again, Cam starts in a less than flattering place – his moms is playing Monopoly and she’s kicked him off her property. But it can only go up from there, and in the course of the verse he quickly ascends to the point of getting head in bed.
17. Sparkle “Good Life” (Feat. Cam’ron & Nature) 
As if talking about Quaaludes in an accent isn’t good enough, Cam has to make every kid that’s ever gotten high laugh when he says, “After I smoke, I believe I can fly.” That’s probably the best explanation of what weed feels like in the history of science.
16. Big L “8 Iz Enuff” (Feat. Twan, Buddah Bless, Killa Kam, Herb McGruff, Mick Boogie, Terra & Trooper J) 
Any rapper who has ever claimed to blaze a track probably hasn’t listened to this in months. Cam is a highlight next to Big L, the guy that convinced him to take rap seriously.
15. Case “Scandalous” (Feat. Cam’ron) 
His first verse is all about images—glass in his food, heat in Alaska—which allows his rhymes to become almost tangible, right in front of your eyes.
14. Bone Crusher “Never Scared (The Takeover Remix)” [Feat. Cam’ron, Jadakiss & Cam’ron]
It might be hard to see through all the dickriding and nostalgia now, but there was a point when many in NY didn’t fuck with Cam’ron like that. He got computers ‘putin’ and that was about it. This remix didn’t exactly help sway any opinions as much as solidify them—duh, of course Jada and Busta had better verses. They’re Jada and Busta…right?
13. Jaheim “Fabulous (Remix)” (Feat. Cam’ron & Juelz Santana) 
Jaheim was thoroughly ghetto, like an R. Kelly 2.0, so when he collaborated with Dipset, it was an instant classic.
12. DJ Clue “Fantastic Four” (Feat. Big Pun, Cam’ron, Canibus & Noreaga) 
Again, Cam sounds like he’s looking over his shoulder in fear. It’s cinematic in a way that few other rappers have been able to be.
11. Beanie Sigel “Wanted (On The Run)” (Feat. Cam’ron) 
“I did my whole album on bail” is as creative a way as any to say “my shit is better than yours.”
10. Nappy Roots “Awnaw (Remix)” (Feat. Jazze Pha, Cam’ron & Twista) 
Many saw Cam’ron’s style as explicitly influenced by the South, so it was a nice change of pace to actually hear him on such a country tune.
9. Queen Pen “I Reps” (Feat. Prodigy & Cam’ron) 
Killa is often at his best when he’s displaying his easy pimp prowess, and he sounds like he’s selling hoes on the corner with this one.
8. Lord Tariq & Peter Gunz “Streets To The Stage” (Feat. Cam’ron) 
A lot of the stuff that Cam rhymed back in the day would be thinkpiece’d and outraged over to death today, so bask in his imagination as he hurts bitches.
7. Tragedy Khadafi “WWT” (Feat. Cam’ron, Killa Sha & RZA)’ 
This is a dream come true as Cam, Killa Sha, Trag and RZA connect over one of RZA’s “I’m Bobby Digital now but I still miss producing like The RZA” beats. Cam’s verse gets a slot here solely because he mentions Ricochet Rabbit, a cartoon from the 60’s that barely lasted for two years. You’d only expect an obscure reference like that from DOOM.
6. R. Kelly “We Ride” (Feat. Cam’ron, N.O.R.E., Jay-Z & Vegas Cats) 
Any verse that mentions Cabrini Green gets an automatic pass. It still baffles me how Cam says that his man “cut the nerves out his wrist.” That’s either the most casually sadistic thing I’ve ever heard on a rap song, or a reference that flies over my head. Either way, it has the same effect every time.
5. Jim Jones “Certified Gangstas” (Feat. Bezel & Cam’ron) 
Cam dazzles with his choice of phrasing, involving H&R Block, cocks, and much more. You can tell how much he’s mastered his own flow ever since the days of his impatient rhymes.
4. Foxy Brown “Baby Baby Baby (Part 2)” [Feat. Young Gavin, Mase & Cam’ron]
Slick and clever as ever, Killa devours this beat better than everyone else on here (Mase doesn’t “devour” it as much as he massages it nicely). Anytime Cam opens a verse talking about Black Hindus, you know you’re staying until he’s done.
3. KRS-One “5 Boroughs” (Feat. Bounty Killer, Buckshot, Cam’ron, Keith Murraym, Killah Priest, Prodigy, Redman, Rev Run & Vigilante) 
Intended to appear on KRS-One’s ill-fated Maximum Strength album, this posse cut finds Cam at the peak of his early flow. He sounds hurried, and the tension in his delivery makes him come off like a paranoid drug dealer. It’s so on-point he sounds like an actor—in the best way possible.
2. Noreaga “Banned From TV” (feat. Nature, Big Pun, Cam’ron, & Jadakiss) 
If you’re single and you’re ever mad at all your friends who have significant others, just remember what Cam said on this Tunnel classic—”You the type that need a wife/I thought the L.O.X. told y’all the keys to life.” That’ll get your mind right.
1. Kanye West “Gone” (Feat. Consequence & Cam’ron) 
You can’t underestimate the importance of Cam nearly finishing Kanye West’s best album. ‘Ye made a very conscious decision to let the Harlemite rock so close to the end on such an emphatic song, and his vision paid off. Jay-Z didn’t kill AutoTune, but Cam definitely buried “puff, puff, pass.”
Bonus: DJ Clue “Fantastic Four Pt. 2” (Feat. Nature, Cam’ron, The Lox, & Fabolous)