There is a short list of artists who have managed to remain relevant over the last decade, dropping fresh hits in each of the various eras in music. There’s an even shorter list who have survived the label system while making numerous major contributions to the culture, and come out on the other side well-positioned for independent success.
When it comes to K Camp, it’s almost impossible to draw comparisons. He truly is a singular figure in the game who has managed to float through the last decade on the back of his timeless and uniquely vibey trap sound, self-sufficient approach, and seemingly endless hits — quietly blazing the way for the melodic R&B-infused landscape of hip hop today.
Best known for countless familiar mega-hits stretching back nearly a decade including “Cut Her Off,” “Money Baby,” “Comfortable” and most recently “Lottery (Renegade)” — otherwise known as the viral hit that set off the TikTok dance craze to become the biggest song in the platform’s history – Camp once again has a fresh hit on his hands with “Woozie” off his last project Vibe Forever that’s currently going crazy in clubs around the country.
Following the release of his latest album, K Camp is finally free of his label deal, leaving him uniquely positioned as a beloved longtime veteran with not only an unparalleled track record and a current hit moving in the streets, but the momentum, foresight and independent infrastructure to do something about it. With plans for his next big moves already well underway, Camp said it best himself: “I’m really working a pretty crazy move right now.”
We sat down with K Camp to learn more about these crazy moves, his newfound independence, his new project Vibe Forever, and his plans for the future of his growing powerhouse label, RARE Sound.
This conversation has been lightly edited for clarity and cohesion.
AW: So you’ve done the impossible. You escaped your deal and gracefully landed not just on your feet, but in a really unique position to succeed independently. How’d you do it and do you have any advice for artists in a similar situation?
KC: “You know it’s really crazy I was just looking at my notes from about 2 and half years ago. Starting in 2020 I had written down exactly how many songs and projects I had left in my deal, and next to it I had the dates I was going to drop them: dropping all through 2020 and ‘21 working towards “I’m Free” in 2022. I looked back recently and it’s hard to believe but it really worked out just like how I had planned.
“The best advice I could give to an artist in the same situation is to keep your head down and keep working. Drop them projects. Keep dropping. You can’t not drop or your ass gonn get dropped. And make sure on each project you have at least one record that’s gonna give you more life for your label to keep putting interest in you. I make hits, so no matter what’s going on I make sure every project has a hit that’s gonna have enough steam to allow me to make my next move.
AW: Being that Vibe Forever was your last project with Interscope before going back independent, are you still excited about the project or is it all eyes forward?
KC: “I’d say it’s about 50/50 for real. I definitely got some bangers on that project like “Woozie” and ‘Holy Spirit’ that are going crazy and still could catch more legs. And of course “If These Walls Could Talk.” You gotta make sure them assets are getting their just due. So I’m still one foot in one foot out, but mostly now I’m focused on my next play.
AW: Speaking of your next play, you were recently making the rounds in NYC and mentioned you were planning to premiere a new song with Nyla Symone from Power 105.1.
KC: “With that new record, it’s actually one of them up Jersey/New York upbeat type songs and probably gonna be the first independent release. Ain’t nobody ever heard me on a vibe like this. I had cut it before I went to NY, and I was getting good reactions playing it for everyone in the studio here. So then I figured I’m in New York so I might as well slide it to these folks and see what they think. I played it for (Nyla) and she was like ‘Lemme get that!’ So I took it back to the crib, mixed it, got it right and sent it to her. But just last night I got a crazy feature on there she doesn’t even know about. Just know when I send that that just might eat up the up top.”
AW: What do you feel like will be different now that you’re independent?
KC: “It’s crazy ‘cause it’s a big difference but not at the same time. I been moving like an independent artist for years. I been putting my bag up. I put a quarter million of my own bread into the RARE Sound studio in Atlanta. That’s a 5,000 sq ft space with 2 studios, a podcast space, basketball court, and a strip club. So you see I been doing my independent thing for a long time so we just gotta keep running our system. It’s just now all that money’s gonna come straight to me.”
AW: What’s an example of how you’ve been able to capitalize on the infrastructure you’ve built as an independent-minded artist?
KC: “‘Lottery (Renegade)’ is a good example. We really broke ‘Lottery’ independently through our own marketing strategies, our own digital team and viral systems. Everything we had going on, my momentum, the project we were dropping, ‘Lottery’ broke because of what we were doing at RARE Sound – and then with the help of Empire after. So just imagine having a record like that going entirely through your own system independently. That’s M’s on M’s.
So the goal is really to take those same strategies, improve and advance them, and catch a record. You know I make hits. It’s not hard tryna find a record, I make them. At this point it’s just about finding that right record that hits the culture at that right time, letting it run through our system, and reaping the benefits of all the hard work we been putting in for years.
The beauty of it now is I can drop at any time so I can react to things that’s going on. It’s a fun game. You really never know what’s gonna hit, but we definitely gonna try some sh*t. That boy Russ can do it I know I can.”
AW: What do you feel like are the essential ingredients for being an independent artist?
KC: “First, you gotta have that mindset to be independent. If you’re not mentally prepared to risk your own money and reputation you’re not gonna survive. Second, you gotta have a good system: lawyers, A&Rs, PRs, Publishing, Production, the whole lineup. All the stuff the labels have, you gotta have in your back pocket or it’s not gonna work.
It’s about having a great marketing team, being visual always, getting top-tier placements on DSPs, having good PRs. And you know connecting with the right blogs like the Our Generations, the guys who really make sh*t shake. The blogs are really the new PRs, but it’s good to have those traditional PRs too. If you got the best of both worlds you really can’t lose.
And 3rd, you gotta have the money to back it. It’s not always about blowing the biggest bag to make something shake, it’s about being strategic with your spending and building mutally beneficial relationships with the right people. If you got those locked down, you could really win.
AW: What are the most common mistakes you see young artists make?
KC: “I feel like the most common mistake I see is artists signing deals real early or young and not knowing what they’re getting themselves into contract-wise. And then once they do get signed thinking that its gonna last forever. When I got signed that’s what I thought, until my sh*t hit a wall and I had to climb up out that b*tch and get back right. Blowing your bag too early is a big one. Artists get that advance and now their single isn’t hitting and your left with a big ass chain and the rest you blew in Magic.
At the end of the day it’s about being smart. Everybody wants to live that lifestyle, and as a rapper you do got to that’s what the people want. You can’t be no vegan rapper like Rick Ross said, you gotta be full course 5-star. But not everyone knows it takes a lot preparation and strategic moves to live this lifestyle without falling off.”
AW: What’s the plan with RARE Sound moving forward?
KC: “Of course we’re moving forward with RARE Sound. I’m debating right now whether I want to sign myself to my own label or partner with a major or a distributor, lots of options lots of calls. Of course we got our own distribution in-house but we’ve also been in talks with basically all the major distribution companies, looking for that right deal for this next compilation.
But me as K Camp, I’m still a free agent and I have my own label to run plays through so I’m really working a pretty crazy move right now. And it’s not just about me it’s about everyone that’s with me so my main focus is of course turning my sh*t up but really its on creating the next superstars in the game.”
AW: What’s the current RARE Sound roster?
KC: On the producer side, we signed Trappin N London who’s got a whole wave that everyone’s f*cking with. JRod is on his Kanye sh*t, he’s a producer, engineer and artist, he’s been getting picked up on New Music Fridays. Bobby Kritical still going hard, True Story Gee has a good fanbase he’s building. And Lil Bird, I ain’t seen him in a year he’s in Nepal on his spiritual journey – he might come back with something crazy you never know.
I’m also looking at signing a couple writers, there’s a few I got my eye on. I’ve been writing my records my whole career, and even for other artists, it all comes from the brain and from the heart. But lately I’ve been thinking that’s what we need to really put all the pieces together. I got dope artists and producers so let me find some of the top writers and put together a hit factory, so no matter who comes through the system they’re gonna have a hit.
AW: Is there anything you’re working on outside of music?
KC: “We’re also building our brand ‘Instant Gratification.’ We do our merch through there and we’re also building out its own brand. We just did a collab with Paris Laundry that got featured in Complex and Hypebeast that I’m really proud of. It’s almost like learning the music business all over again so I’m a student right now of how this fashion stuff really works. Right now we’re actually working on making some fly custom basketball gear for my old highschool and middle school. It’s been real fun to work on and really just tryna tap in and get the brand different places so the music and fashion can keep feeding each other.”
AW: You’ve mentioned in interviews that you feel like you’ve had a lot of influence on music and the culture. What do you see of yourself out in the world and do you feel underappreciated?
KC: “Definitely mixing the melodic with the trap. I heard a lot of artists say they started that but I been kicking this sh*t for a long time. I don’t needa say no names but when it comes to Atlanta there’s a lot of key artists who influenced a lot of shit, from the East Coast to the West Coast a lot of people get a lot of influence from the city. With me, there’s a few artists that definitely pay homage but for a long time it used to f*ck with me mentally, but after a while I kept getting bigger and I realized it wasn’t taking anything from me. So now I always try to switch up the sound for every project so everyone’s gotta keep catching up.”
Like a good example I literally just got my plaque for Uzi’s “Sanguine Paradise.” They took a hit we had all the way back from 2012 and went 2x Platinum on it in 2019. If that ain’t influence I don’t know what it is, Uzi’s one of the biggest artists of our generation right now.
At the end of the day I been in the game 9-10 years now and I’m still going strong. And because of that I truly believe that when it comes to music I’m going down in history as one of them ones.”
AW: And so do we! Any last words for the OGM audience.
KC: “Feel like we covered everything but man I’m still in the studio everyday I’m not slowing up. We’re gearing up for the next phase and making sure everything’s properly prepped for when the time comes. And it’s coming sooner rather than later. Besides that, make sure you go stream Vibe Forever, buy some merch, and be on the look out for what we got comin next.”
With the wind at his back and newfound independence in hand, K Camp feels laser-focused and is looking like one of the most unique and well-positioned artists in the game. It’s only a matter of time before the veteran hitmaker strikes again, and this time there’s nothing stopping him from fully capitalizing.
Listen to K Camp’s Vibe Forever below