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Cam’ron, ‘Crime Pays’ (Asylum)

In 2006, Cameron “Cam’ron” Giles released the artistically underwhelming Killa Season to little commercial notice, then fell out with running buddy Jim Jones, abandoned a beef with 50 Cent, and slid off the hip-hop grid. Back with his sixth full-length, Cam mostly eschews lyrical musings on his disappearance or his frenemies, saving the drama for the faux-orchestral/ operatic beats that still back his dizzyingly charismatic coke raps. On “Crime Pays Intro,” and “Cookin’ Up,” he deals references to old-school prop comics (Gallagher) and contemporary point guards (Rajon Rondo), while detailing his life in and out of the drug game. He may have kept his lyrical gift hidden, but he didn’t lose it.

Watch: Cam’ron, “Get it in Ohio”