On the day before Black Panther’s nationwide premiere, American rapper Kristopher Campbell “K Camp” and I quickly bond over our mutual excitement for what would become the highest grossing movie of 2018. K Camp’s fandom, like mine, extends not only to the film itself, but to its many cultural offshoots, from the Kendrick Lamar-produced soundtrack to Wakanda-inspired fashions. Known for hits like “Comfortable” and “Cranberry Juice,” K Camp’s outlook is similarly multidisciplinary, weighting music and visuals equally.
“If you don’t have fashion, you don’t have nothing,” Campbell says. “And my taste definitely changes. When I first popped up, I used to walk up in jogger pants and flip flops. But the more I learned the more I became who I am.”
Fashion, and fashion week, have become definitive playgrounds for the music set, with every designer seemingly expected to put on a performance rather than a straightforward runway show. While the fashion world may be scrambling to stay hip, Campbell says it’s about time brands acknowledge their cultural influences, and hip-hop’s ability to completely catapult a brand’s success (attn: Philipp Plein). “That’s why Yeezy first tried to collaborate with everybody,” he says of hip-hop’s break into the industry. “That shit runs deep, so you have to acknowledge the culture.”
In terms of his own cultural consumption, Campbell cites influences past and present. “I respect the people that came before me, don’t get me wrong I want to work with Jay-Z,” he says with a chuckle. “But right now I’m trying to work with Drake when he stops being on that bullshit—I got a friend who’s close to him, so we’ll run into each other one day.”
In addition to Drake, social media is another dominant force that Campbell seems simultaneously drawn to and skeptical of. “How I move now, I like to keep my ear to what’s next, and right now the culture is—the shit that’s going on with rap is different. You still have that good shit, but now you’ve got some bullshit.” Campbell says. “[But] the bullshit is winning,” he says.
In the end, if there’s one thing to take away about Campbell, it’s his candor. Close to the end of our conversation, he asks, “Can I say what I want?” Absolutely, I say. Campbell smiles and takes a pause before saying, “I’m that n***a.”