Hip-hop’s K Camp gets comfortable with success
By John Benson
It wasn’t too long ago rapper K Camp was a high school kid making mixtapes in the basement of his mother’s Atlanta home.
Today, the rising MC is viewed as the future of hip-hop with his upcoming star-studded debut effort, “Only Way Is Up,” featuring guest appearances by the likes of Snoop Dogg, T.I., French Montana, Jeremih, Yo Gotti, Fetty Wap and Bun B.
“At first when I was looking at the track list, I was like damn,” said K Camp (real name Kristopher Campbell), calling from Atlanta. “Now it’s like I think I deserve that. I worked hard for it. I worked hard to get to this point and to get these artists on the album.”
Born in Milwaukee but raised in Atlanta’s Northside, K Camp got his start roughly a decade ago in open mic competitions that were also frequented by Waka Flocka Flame. It wasn’t until a few years later that K Camp released the party jam “All Night” and wrote Mykko Montana’s “Do It.”
The attention around Atlanta was positive but K Camp had the presence of mind to understand notoriety in the city was a double-edged sword. There were too many stories of similar-level artists confusing Atlanta club glory with mainstream attention and opportunity.
Making his Youngstown debut Friday in an outdoor concert downtown on East Federal Street, K Camp said it was this foresight that fueled him to hone his flow and fine-tune his lyrics.
“I like the way I was sounding but I just wanted to learn,” K Camp said. “That’s how I got better. I didn’t want to be an I-75/I-285 artist. That’s Atlanta power. I didn’t want to be stuck in that lane so I thought of growth. My main focus was to get out of the highway line, you know what I’m saying.
“I didn’t want to be stuck in Atlanta just making Atlanta music. I just wanted more. That was just something I was hungry for.”
This drive helped K camp land a 2014 major label deal, which resulted in his debut EP, “In Due Time.” The effort produced club anthem “Money Baby [featuring Kwony Cash]” and party smash “Cut Her Off [featuring 2 Chainz].”
Both tracks received radio attention with the latter remixed by hip-hop heavyweights T.I., Rick Ross, Wiz Khalifa, YG and Lil Boosie. The mainstream success led to K Camp being named as one of Rolling Stone’s New Artists You Need to Know, as well as to XXL’s 2015 Freshman Class and topping Twitter’s first Emerging Artists list.
The only thing left for K Camp is next month’s release of “Only Way Is Up,” which currently boasts hot second single “Comfortable.” The smooth track, encapsulating the relaxed rapper’s motif, blurs the lines between rap and R&B with K Camp showing off his singing skills. When discussing the track’s crossover potential to pop radio, the rapper once again finds an apt street metaphor to describe his intentions.
“We already took over the streets, now we’re trying to get the world,” K Camp said. “I’m just proving I can merge into that lane easily. I’m still staying true to who I am and what music I make. I’m just showing the world I can make bigger music.
“Nobody can tell me my [music] ain’t banging. So it’s like I stand behind my product and I hope the world respects me for it.”