She Inspires is a series that covers women in the US who are leaders in different industries. This series seeks to provide awareness of these women, their contributions to their industries, as well as inspire other women to discover their life's mission.
Our 'She Inspires' series continues with our West Coast 'homegirl', rapper ill Camille. She is definitely one to watch -- with music as strong as her personality and a smile that is as bright as her future. We sat down with Camille to discuss her latest project, the desire to be a mother and what she thinks about Kendrick Lamar's 'To Pimp A Butterfly'.
CM: Hi, Camille! Do you prefer to be called ‘Ill Camille’ or is “Camille” okay?
IC: Hi, Chela! Either one is fine by me. I’ll answer to both (laughs).
CM: Tell us about your origins in Compton.
IC: I was only born in Compton. The person that authored my original bio knew that about me, so I think that became the center of importance with everyone who discovered me later on -- especially with some of Cali’s best lyricists of all time being born there. I spent my life dabbling between two cities, L.A. and the I.E. (Inland Empire, Rialto to be exact) for about four years. They are an hour apart from each other, but quite the same. A lot of Black folks, a lot of soul, violence, good food spots, you name it.
CM: You’re very family oriented, right?
IC: Super. The village raised me as they say. So many people have much to do with my upbringing – shaping me as a woman. My music taste, my perspective, I always gotta show love to my family. I respect my tribe…you know what I’m sayin’? God, family, music, in that order.
CM: Who taught you how to cook and what is your favorite dish to cook?
IC: I think I soaked up a little “game” from all of the women in my family. No diss to our men though because they can cook their behinds off too. I probably cook Soul Food or Mexican food the best. Shrimp or turkey tacos/enchiladas. Hot water cornbread, friend fish, cabbage and greens.
CM: You’re making me hungry! Who were your musical influences as a kid?
IC: Man, so many. I grew up in households with record players, recording equipment and music instruments. I heard everything (laughs). The Dogg Pound, Ron Ayers, A Tribe Called Quest, The Eastsidaz, Queen Latifah, Outkast, Goddie Mobb, George Benson, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sting. You name it and I’ve listened to it.
CM: How did you get your start in the music industry?
IC: I was always involved with music or the creative arts in some kind a way, since a kid. I was that kind of kid. I started professionally rapping in 2010, toward the latter part of the year. Long story short, I admired an emcee named Mykestro who basically told me that I needed to pursue music seriously. I recorded my first verses at his spot. Got with Battlecat and a few other producers and it was on after that.
CM: You have worked with many notables in the industry. Is there a collaboration that was life changing or stands out to you?
IC: Anytime Iman Omari and I collaborate it makes for a good thing. A great thing. He pushes the envelope creatively so I get in another zone with him.
CM: What is some advice that you would give to aspiring female emcees like you?
IC: Stay diligent no matter what. Stay close to people that know you inside and out. Stay true to your spirit and don’t bend. This industry isn’t friendly and you’ll find that out eventually, so be rooted in your truth. Having some good folks around you will help you stay on course – trust me.
CM: My favorite album of the moment is Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly. Who are you listening to nowadays?
IC: I ain’t stopped listening to To Pimp A Butterfly. It’s brilliant and touches the core. That kind of music gets a lot of play in my ride. Outside of that, I’m still bumping to Outkast. I like Snoop’s Bush project that he did with Pharrell, surprisingly. I’m listening to SIR, Rapsody’s last album, Anderson Paak, Emily King and Damani Nkosi. I always revisit classic albums from 15-20 years ago.
CM: Tell me all about illustrated B-Sides.
IC: B-Sides is going to be my most introspective, honest project. It’s taking forever and rightfully so. It’s been 3 years since my last project so I’m putting all of my time and energy into it because that’s all that I can do. So much happens in a 3 year period – heartbreaks, makeup’s, death, financial gains/losses, losing self, finding self, government killing folks left and right. I’ve put it all on this project.
CM: You post a lot about “homegirls”.
IC: I post a lot about my homegirls. I am a homegirl. The homegirl is a woman, one of the most important types of woman that we often disrespect. I am all about balance, layers and duality – I think the “homegirl” represents this because we are made up of a lot of different things. I just want women to know that it’s okay to subscribe to whatever they feel.
CM: I hate when I’m asked this question but you may be better at answering it than me. Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
IC: Hopefully with a family of my own. I love spending quality time, learning and teaching children. That maternal shit has been kicking in lately, so in the 5 years I pray that I am a mother. I hope to still be knee deep in the music, helping new creatives, financially settled and living off of my fruits (of labor) with a man who has a great selection of music. I just want everyone around me to be able to live. That’s what I want 5 years from now.
CM: Last question. Name one thing that you cannot live without.
IC: I can’t choose just one, but it’s a toss-up between air and music – they are pretty much the same damn thing (laughs).
CM: Thanks so much, Camille!
IC: Thank you, Chela. Much love!
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