LL Presents: The Cook Up Cam Q&A

I first met Cook Up Cam when he Dj’ed our Lyrical Lemonade Christmas Cypher, and I have been a fan of him ever since. He is one of the main up & coming DJ’s/producers in Illinois right now, so I had to have him included in our new edition of our Q&A segment. Learn a little bit about him below, then be sure to give him a follow here!

(Photo credit • michaelbussey.com)


EM: Before we get into the questions, give a brief introduction of yourself to our readers that may not be familiar with you.

CC: Hey Elliot! My name is Cam. I go by the name CookUpCam that was given to me by my chef skills and talent at the Cooking Dance. Back in the day circa 2009 before Lil B was a huge cultural icon, I played his music, did the cooking dance and adopted the positive “based” lifestyle. I started making beats in middle school and grew into a producer in high school when I joined the group Chinza//Fly (producers of ASAP Ferg’s Work). When I hit college I left the group and started DJing and throwing art gallery parties and producing music for local rappers. I founded the ELVTD collective in 2013 that has worked with Pat App, Ric Wilson, and other artists. I’ve released over a dozen projects that consist of instrumental albums, remix albums, and fully produced rap albums that have mostly been deleted from the internet. Now I’m getting into video production, scoring, and directing. You can still check me out DJing art galleries and spinning at shows and I’m working on another solo project rn.

EM: Who are your top five influences musically?

CC: My top 5 influences musically that are musicians: Big KRIT, Ramsey Lewis, Soundtrakk (produced for Lupe Fiasco), Lil B the Based God, and Willie Hutch. My top 5 influences musically that are things: Travel & Exploration (locally and across borders), women, art, style, and real life experiences (some notably significant and others seem small but something about it inspires me.)

EM: What are your top five albums of all time?

CC: Top 5 Albums of All Time: Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor: I bought this album with a gift card I received as a Christmas gift. I bought 2 albums with that gift card. One was a Fall Out Boy cover and album. I have no idea why the fuck that thing was being sold in Best Buy and I immediately returned it when I listened to it. I was trying to experiment with my musical taste and this was the first time I bought music on my own. The second album was Lupe’s. I immediately fell in love with the production on the album and wanted to figure out how this music could be made. Lupe’s story-telling ability and realism were on point and Soundtrakk’s production was killer. I can still listen to this album and be transported to a place of peace. This was also the first album I connected with inspired by Chicago made by a Chicagoan.  • Curren$y’s Pilot Talk II: I’m pretty sure this project was released in my senior year of High School and I had to drive 30 miles just to get the hard copy CD because the local Best Buy didn’t have any copies. I remember finally purchasing this CD and putting it into the disc player of my ’98 Mercury Mystique. I drove home playing this album and lit a finely rolled joint of Afghan Kush for the ride. I distinctly remember being a little paranoid the first time I heard “Flight Briefing” thinking the flight attendant’s voice was the voice of a cop pulling me over. I made it back home safe that night and sprayed the car down with Ozium before I went inside the house. This album has great production and great lyrics. Spitta is one of the illest. • NERD’s Seeing Sounds: This album released the same day that Lil Wayne’s Carter III dropped. I bought both and resonated more with “Seeing Sounds”. The production was super dope. Live instruments and catchy melodies provided for a wonderful sound experience. I remember really getting amped to this music and being able to chill and reflect to the deep cuts on this record. • Kanye West’s Graduation: There’s standout tracks on this album for sure and cohesively it’s amazing. This album motivates me and I remember countless times when I had a final paper due or some huge college project, I would go into the archives and play this album all the way through. The dropout really did keep this kid into school. The production credits from DJ Toomp on this album is widely over looked but can’t go unnoticed. The soul beats and trap influence on this album was perfect. Kanye’s flex and story of triumph is also top notch. • Roy Ayer’s Africa is the Center of the World: This was one of my favorite vinyl finds. Most times I’m digging purposely for sampling but this album kept my attention through out. From the introduction to the final song, this album is musically amazing. Roy’s xylophone playing heavenly and the subject matter of the project spoke to me through finding my way to being in love with being black. I also love this album because of it’s mostly instrumental quality and long breaks in songs with little to no vocals. Roy Ayers inspires me to continue to make instrumental albums. I remember the first time I listened to this album was a warm summer day and I went to meet up with woman I was getting to know. The plans were to listen to vinyl and “chill” because she had just gotten a new record player. The music was playing, we were smoking and she decided to perform head surgery on the couch half way through the side A of the project. The music and top were great but I had to interrupt her to flip the vinyl over to play side B.

EM: What are your top five mixtapes of all time?

CC: Top 5 Mixtapes of all time: Curren$y & Wiz Khalifa’s How Fly: Soul Beats man! This mixtape has some of the dopest production. That Smokey Robinson sample on “Car Service” is amazing and the way that Wiz and Spitta were rapping showed everyone that they would become stars. This was the soundtrack to life when it came out. So many good memories associated with the mixtape. • Flatbush Zombies’ DRUGS: Erick Arc Elliot is a beast on the beats. This project was the introduction to the Flatbush Zombies and I loved their style. Meech sounded like a brute that gave zero fucks but still had flows out of this world and he always spoke that real talk. Juice’s unpredictable flow and style were on point. Even when Arc would flow on the mic he shined too. I dig this project because of the sound they were able to create and challenge cultural norms without being corny. • Sir Michael Rocks’ Rocks Report: This project is amazing. Mickey was rapping his ass off and picked some super dope beats. The sketches in this project reminded me of an old Camron mixtape and were hilarious. Sir Mike rapped about straight lifestyle tuning. The beats provided by Tye Hill, DJ Thunder and Brandun DeShay were an excellent foundation for Sir Mike to build the Taj Mahal of fly Shit.

DOM KENNEDY’s OGDK: This is that music that you play while you’re getting dressed and when you’re on the way to pick up a fly honey. This tape feels like LA. Great production and DOM always has some cool things to say no matter how simple it may appear. Every song on this project is dope and it flows together amazingly. This project gave me an introduction to my mentor Kevin Robinson as well who did PR on this project. This tape still gets rotation and always sets a good mood.

Nipsey Hussle The Marathon Continues: Nip is one of my favorite rappers for his strong adherence to being an independent artist and entrepreneur. This mixtape is like an album and is very cohesive. It is the soundtrack to the grind. Nip preaches and shows the road map to being independent. The instrumentals on this tape have lush synths and banging drums.

EM: If you could collab with one person dead or alive who would it be?

CC: If I could collab with one person dead or alive it would be Malcolm X.

EM: What is one interesting fact about you that most people wouldn’t know?

CC: One interesting fact that people don’t know about me is I lost the cupcake bake off my senior year of high school by one vote because I didn’t vote for myself. My tragic flaw is how humble I am. My cupcakes were flame AF and made my extra curricular clubs so much money.

EM: What is your favorite music video of all time?

CC: My favorite music video of all time is “Touch the Sky” by Kanye West feat. Lupe Fiasco. This video was my introduction to Lupe and added humor as well as a dope concept to an amazing song with a raw Curtis Mayfield sample.

EM: How much has the city of Chicago influenced you?

CC: The city of Chicago has influenced my music a ton. Everywhere I explore influences my music. Chicago’s go getter attitude inspires me to make a lot of music even if I’m not releasing it all. Chicago is a real city that breeds authenticity and everyone can tell when something is not true. That fact influences me to always make music that is true to me and my experiences.

EM: Who are some of the smaller Chicago artists that you have been rocking with?

CC: The Chicago artists that I have been rocking with are Jay 2 my guy from Zero Fatigue is one of the coldest rappers out. His delivery, flow, and beat selection are top notch. This man can write a song. I haven’t produced anything for Jay but I DJ for him quite frequently and it’s always a good time on stage with him. I also rock with High Five a crew of rappers from Waukegan. They’re making some amazing music and each member has a unique style that is very cohesive inside of their movement.  I rock with My Twin Sam who is a transplant from Minnesota but is making some amazing music. He’s writing awesome music and is effortlessly lyrical. I’m producing for him now and even directing his upcoming music video. His project “Marigold” will be special. Mark my words. Keevy is also an artist I’ve been working with that is making amazing music. He makes that lifestyle tuning music. The type of music you have to live life in order to make. He’s a fashion designer and a world traveler and the music reflects that. There’s a lot of others that I’m working with and are super dope. You’ll just have to wait and see what we have to show you.

EM: What are your thoughts on Donald Trump?

CC: My thoughts on Donald Trump are that he was an entertaining reality TV personality that finessed the fuck out of America. He was able to get and keep the attention of the public for so long that he actually won the presidential race. Everyone was so concerned with the wild things that he was saying that they gave so much energy to him. “Where attention goes energy flows”. Instead of supporting his opponents, most people were just saying “fuck Donald” and that was still giving him and his campaign momentum. That’s where I think we got it wrong. He is a racist and a bigot and I do not fuck with him. His hair is whack and so is his perspective.

EM: What was the first piece of music you ever purchased?

CC: The first piece of music I purchased was when I was like 7 years old and my family went on a trip to Tennessee. I bought an N Sync CD. That shit had decent pop music on it. It was either that or when I went to Walmart and bought “Word of Mouf” by Ludacris, the clean version. That album had some bangers on it.

EM: The National Anthem or The International Players Anthem?

CC: The International Players Anthem is far greater than the National Anthem. International reaches a lot more people than national. Pimp C’s Willie Hutch sample is amazing on the beat. The beat of IPA has dope drums unlike the National Anthem. Outkast and UGK joining up like a rap game Voltron is legendary. There is no doubt in my mind which song is better. I’m taking a knee on the National Anthem and I’m getting buck to the International Players Anthem.

EM: What can our readers expect from Cook Up Cam for the rest of 2016?

CC: For the rest of 2016 you can expect me DJing at a few more shows including art galleries, concerts, and comedy shows. You can expect my music video directorial debut. You can expect a couple more tracks produced by me and maybe even an album fully produced by me. There’s more surprises too. Just stay in tune with me and you’ll be a part of a rare journey.

EM: Last question, where do you see yourself in five years?

CC: In five years I see myself nurturing several small businesses under my company’s umbrella. I see myself being a peaceful man enjoying a life that alternates between peace and joy. I see myself working with amazing artists and making amazing art. I see the core fan base being established and growing each and everyday. I see myself finishing up my 3rd world tour and going through a breakup with a super model.