Earlier this month, Los Angeles-based rapper Ill Camille released Heirloom, a deeply personal project and multi-faceted tribute to her community, specifically the Los Angeles neighborhood of View Park. Camille not only has flow for days, but brings a depth of emotion to her rhymes, weaving and revealing stories rooted in despair, joy, frustration and love, creating a very real-feeling postcard of her and her people’s lives.
Check out our interview with Camille in which she discussed her upbringing, her writing and studio process, as well as her favorite, local taco spots. Of course we also asked her to weigh in on Remy Ma’s “shETHER.” At the time of the interview, Nicki Minaj’s response had not been released.
Snobette: Heirloom is such a personal-sounding project. Where were you raised?
Ill Camille: “I was born in Compton and lived in Los Angeles and different parts of southern California all my life.”
Snobette: What block do you claim?
Ill Camille: “I’d just say all of them though Angeles Vista Boulevard is the home where everything happened. My mom and dad met there. That’s my dad’s block where he grew up. It’s significant for me.”
Snobette: What aspect of your block do you always carry with you and represent to the world?
Ill Camille: “Well Angeles Vista is in View Park, which was known for being the black Hollywood back in the ‘50s. Black people couldn’t live in [Hollywood], and this is where they set up shop. Right down the street from us were the avenues, but it’s misleading because we were also walking distance from Leimert Park and Crenshaw. It’s a beautiful section of Los Angeles, but it still has all the good and bad elements of Los Angeles. So with that, it taught me duality because it’s beautiful and ugly at the same time. It’s bitter and sweet. I have a dual nature from my upbringing and that comes out in my music.
Snobette: What music did you grow up listening to?
Ill Camille: “Oh man, it was like, Nancy Wilson, Quincy Jones, Frank Sinatra, Tribe Called Quest. I was hit over the head with so much good music.”
Snobette: There are 16 tracks. What song speaks the most loudly to the period in which Heirloom was recorded?
Ill Camille: “’Renew’ is the last song on the album, it’s past, present and future, and it’s funny that it’s three years old, and it’s still current to me. That song surmises everything that has happened and probably foreshadows what’s to come.”
Snobette: Speaking to the hook in “Slip Away,” have you ever been in love?
Camille: “Yup, for sure. There’s one time that I can say that was for sure me being in love, for sure for sure. The other two times for I strongly loved that person and it created an attachment to that person. And I’d say I’m still feeling the effects of that love.”
Snobette: What’s your studio process?
Ill Camille: “People think I’m weird because I’d rather records at the homie’s house. If the equipment is up to par, it’s way more intimate and comfortable. And at a friend’s house or home studio there’s not a lot of people coming through. I like to think and a real home sort of vibe helps me do my best work.
Snobette: Where was Heirloom recorded?
Ill Camille: “Heirloom was recorded in a bunch of different spots. The main hub was [rapper] SiR’s house. I recorded at his house the most. He’s an engineer and his ear is incredible and that’s my friend, plus there was proximity. About 85 percent of the project was recorded at his home.”
Snobette: How much time do you spend in any given studio session?
Ill Camille: “It depends. I think for ‘Live It Up,’ it was an hour and a half. For ‘Spider’s Jam,’ I kept coming back so that was a total of seven hours. Sometimes I gotta go back.”
Snobette: What’s your go-to studio drink or snack?
Ill Camille: “I’ve been spoiled by SiR because we would cook. I’d go to Ralph’s and get stuff and we cooked. My thing is cheese eggs, I love hot fries, I love mango and I love Sprite. I know it doesn’t make any sense. And tacos any time of the day, breakfast, lunch, dinner.”
Snobette: Are you willing to give up your fave taco stand?
Ill Camille: “So I love World Wide but they take two hours to make tacos. Sky’s Tacos on Pico is bomb, I love them.”
Snobette: When did you start writing rhymes?
Camille: “I started writing poetry in sixth grade. Very Mother Goose rhyme-style poetry, and then in 8th grade it became more advanced a little because I started getting into groups like Wu Tang and Dogg Pound. I wrote my first rap in the 10th grade and it was all over the place. It was the end of 2010 when I wrote my first 24-bar structured verse and also recorded a verse.”
Snobette: What’s your writing process?
Ill Camille: “The process as of late, the bars have come from conversation. I’m realizing I have a lot of clever word people around me and I VoiceNote to keep track. But I have a combo of VoiceNotes and iPhone notes.”
Snobette: You’re a ‘90s baby. Where do you weigh in on the debate over writing your own bars?
Ill Camille: “Ugh, this is always tough for me because I write songs for people. Coming from that perspective, I fully understand the lack of time these established artists have to write a full song and the need to enlist writers to help you. Then there’s the MC side of me that says you can’t call yourself the greatest rapper and someone else wrote your bars. I’m on the fence about it.”
Snobette: So where were you when “shETHER” dropped?
Camille: “I was actually leaving Starbucks and headed to Fat Burger and the person I was in the car with asked if I’d heard it. We played it three times before we walked into Fat Burger. And then we completely dissected it.”
Snobette: What are your thoughts?
Camille: “It brought a lot of attention to a woman who is a skilled MC. I’m trying to be quiet about it because I don’t have a stance in the fight. I will say, you get what you ask for and that can go either way.”
Snobette: I’ve witnessed males dismiss the Remy versus Nicki beef because they’re female rappers. Are you familiar with that dynamic?
Camille: “[Sigh] I hate that we always are dismissed for any reason. To act like it didn’t happen is a huge dismissal, and I hate that and it really gets on my nerves. The fact that’s still said about two of the biggest name says a lot.”
Snobette: Why does that dynamic exist?
Camille: “In the areas I’ve lived in, there’s an abundance of female rappers. Even crews and DJs so they can try and front, but there are so many you can’t deny them. And that’s true for L.A. and Alto as well.
Snobette: What are your plans for the coming summer?
Camille: Summer is looking like I’m going to be everywhere I can. The goal is to go overseas. That’s all I really want to do.
Snobette: When are you recording next?
Camille: “I recorded last night and the night before. I would record everyday if I could.”
Check out Heirloom below.