How Cam’ron Built a Sports-Media Mini Empire With 'It Is What It Is'

The basis for reconciliation was there—someone provided the last link to make it happen. “Shammgod, the former NBA player, who’s now one of the coaches on the Dallas Mavericks, was a mutual friend that we grew up with,” Cam says. “I told him, ‘Tell Mase I love him and I’d like to talk to him one day.’ And that’s how we started our communication.” After some phone calls and in-person meetings, the iciness thawed. Last January they even performed “Horse & Carriage” live together for the first time, at the Apollo no less. A layman could watch the show now and never guess the hosts had spent the previous decades in a bitter Cold War.

For all the laugh-out-loud moments they produce, It Is What It Is yields some genuinely touching moments. “Me and Mase are kind of the same n-gga,” Cam says. “There’s a lot of shit me and him been through that other people that I’m around may not know. Me and him remembering a lot of shit that we did [in real time] is super cool. Because sometimes he’ll bring up some shit that I forgot about, or vice versa.” An interaction that started off jokey turned emotional when Cam asked Mase on-air why he took him directly to B.I.G. instead of Bad Boy proper. Mase takes a moment to carefully phrase his response: “Biggie would do right by you.” Last week, on a show taped on Cam’s birthday, Mase gave him $20,000—a stack for every year that they did not speak. Cam said he’d likely just spend the money on a gift for Mase.

Back in his house in Vegas, watching Wilbon and Kornheiser, Cam nods at the screen. “PTI is my favorite show…. To me, this is how me and Mase are. I like these two because it’s not like a debate show. If a topic comes up and we have the same opinion, you’re not going to force it just to start an argument. These two, you can tell they’re genuine friends. You could tell they fuck with each other.”

This is what Cam’ron does now: looks for inspiration for how to create more representation for people of his culture and background. He’s over everything else. “Everything that I wanted to do I, I did it already,” he says. When he’s on dates, he says, he has to contend with women who want to go places and do things he’s done a dozen times already. It also extends to rapping. He might pop up with some bars, like after being inspired by J. Cole’s verse of the year on Lil Yachty’s “The Secret Recipe.” He’ll kick a freestyle to ring in a milestone episode of It Is What It Is. But otherwise, he’s only been releasing “timeless” songs from his hard drive vault when the mood strikes.

He is still stoking the legacy that he and The Diplomats left. He intro’d J. Cole’s last studio album and expects a song they did for Cole’s forthcoming project will make the final cut. And last year, when Drake performed two shows at Harlem’s landmark Apollo Theater, bringing Dipset out wasn’t just inevitable, it would’ve felt wrong if he hadn’t. Drake wasn’t too proud to rock Cam’s iconic pink mink for the occasion; millennial rap fans, ever so protective of the Diplomats’ legacy (and ever so quick to give Drake a hard time), cried cornball. The most popular rapper alive, sure—worthy of wearing a hip-hop grail? Up for debate.

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