Since a conversation with a good friend, lifelong Harlem native and fellow long-time Dipset fan at a bar during March Madness about the epic nature of this freestyle is where I got the inspiration for this site and where it got its name from, I feel like it’s only right to start Pink Chardonnay with a brief homage to Cam himself and the verse/video of his that first caught my eye. Can you get any more evocative of the early/mid 2000’s NYC golden era than this? Even before we get into how next level Killa’s verse was, let’s take a moment to acknowledge the sheer audacity and awesomeness of Cam’s imagery, from calmly and confidently showing up for the Rap City freestyle in an off pink Coogi t-shirt and bucket hat to the way he’s casually counting a seemingly endless stack of big bills. It’s such a quintessential example of the cool, effortless, and over the top arrogant swagger that the stars of that era perfected. To me, it just perfectly captures a moment in time in my mind’s eye.
Then there’s the sheer genius of the verse with some of the most brilliant lines I had ever heard at the time (and still have ever heard to this day!) offhandedly rattled off as almost a throwaway. I had a hard time picking out a title for the post about this because so many of the lines would have been worthy choices; “I’m Anfernee I do things the hard way, pardon me, escalade marmalade mama stay… might cop a car today, color pink chardonnay.” Rappers had of course already been bragging about their luxury vehicles for years, but I don’t think I had ever heard anyone describe them as specifically and creatively as Cam here; not just a pink car, but pink chardonnay. Not just an orange Escalade, an Escalade the same color as marmelade. To me this is what separates Cam’ron (and to an extent Dipset as a whole) from many of his peers and really made him ahead of his time in terms of both rapping and even fashion.
Whether it was the way he seemingly overnight transformed people that were laughing at him for wearing pink furs and pink sneakers to people that were copying him and going out dressed head to toe in pink after he made it okay, or the way Dipset in general utilized sped up samples of 80s pop and rock songs as just another playground for them to dominate (while in some cases, the end result was incredible, and in some, it didn’t really stand the test of time, just think about how audacious/ambitious it was constructing a rap song around ‘Oh What a Night’, ‘Don’t Stop Believing,’ ‘Any Way You Want it’ or even ‘We Built this City’), I feel like they don’t get the credit for being pioneers that truly presaged what was to come later.
I honestly often wonder why Cam’ron isn’t viewed as having the same ‘legend’ status as someone like a Jay-Z or some of the other biggest names. In my humble opinion he is an infinitely more interesting and unique artist, but that’s a discussion for another day and another article. I think a big part of it is that he was not only ahead of his time but also that a lot of his lines and double entendres went over a lot of people’s heads. Also, of course he had some silly or forgettable lines/songs that fell flat on their face and I think some people hold that against him instead of assessing his entire body of work as a whole. Additionally, casual fans probably just remember him more as a ‘character’ than a legend for his bold fashion choices and for things like his movie ‘Killa Season’, or his colorful interviews on 60 Minutes and the O’Reilly Factor, amongst others, then for what he actually did lyrically, but I’m pretty confident that if any skeptics were to go through his entire portfolio and really give each project a thorough listen with an open mind, they would have to acknowledge that his portfolio and level of skill compares pretty well to any of the legends on rap’s ‘Mount Rushmore’ and should at least put him in the ballpark.
Other highlights of this time capsule include Jim Jones rocking a Kansas City Chiefs Priest Holmes jersey (who in some ways much like could be said of some of Dipset itself, burned really bright for a few years and then unfortunately faded from the limelight all too soon), and showing some rare vulnerability while utilizing an interesting flow (“Uncle Ricky got a month and some change, and it feels like a garbage truck just dumping the pain, all on my shoulders, I’m mourning my soliders, the nights they get chilly the mornings much colder”). Then of course you just have Juelz being Juelz. And then Cam’ron’s aforementioned legendary verse. “Look dog I bought villas/stayed in resorts, scrilla/how you extort Killa? I extort killas.” “I don’t care I put the flame in the fire, Christian, aetheist, you pray to Elijah, don’t pray? Okay. Just pray I don’t snipe ya.” I also love the rags to riches image and perspective of seeing both sides of life that he shows when he says ‘I seen all islands, Cayman’s to Rikers’. Or how about at the end when he just openly mocks his former record label boasting ’10 mil from Def Jam and I ain’t sell a record for them,’ which he somehow delivers with a straight face before he and the rest of the guys in the studio crack up, effectively ending the session. I’m not sure if this was from 2004 or 2005, but either way, I cannot believe that now it’s been well over ten years ago! Time flies and it’s nice to have a moment in time captured like this as a touchstone of a memorable time period to fondly look back on and listen to as we look for a parking spot for our pink Range Rover ;).