Cameron Giles AKA Cam'ron grew up in Harlem wanting to be a pro basketball player until, influence by legendary rap artistes such as NWA and Public Enemy he turned to hip-hop... 'Hey Ma' was a big Top 10 success for him in the UK in early 2003In some ways it's fortunate that I already knew the song before watching the video, because it's packed with the typical distractions and cliches of a hip-hop video from this era: overly bright lighting, a scene in a jacuzzi, a bit in the middle that stops and goes into a different song, awkward mugging during the extended outro where there are no vocals to mime to and the regular confusion of edited lyrics: how do they decide that "We gon' get high tonight" has to be cut but "I'm ready to do it, ready to bone" is OK?
I heard the song aplenty long before I was aware of the video though, because it was one of the most played songs on Radio 1 at this point, seemingly out of proportion to its admittedly solid chart success. This doubtless helped to combine with the song's existing earworm qualities, thanks to that instantly recogniseable piano hook borrowed from 'Easy' by the Commodores. They played the version that leaves in the getting high references, at the time, but the song has its own distractions. Well, I was always distracted by the fact that he refers to his girlfriend as "Booby", which is of course also what John McCririck calls his wife and I don't think the horse-racing pundit and animal-killing enthusiast was the icon Cam'ron wanted to model himself on, though the lyrics here don't suggest that McCririck's reputation for casual and not-so-casual mysoginy would be a deal-breaker there. In a strange though not unamusing moment in the opening verse, he brushes aside claims that he is young by offering to "tell you what the Eighties [were] like", before emphasising that he "can lay the pipe", which is unlikely to be a reference to his skills as a gas engineer. I don't even think he was CORGI registered.
It's a well-enough produced and catchy enough song to avoid being insufferable, but little of the credit is really earned by the people whose names are above the title.
Also appearing on: Now 55 [with Mariah Carey]
Available on: Urban Floorfillers