What Up, Big Camp!? A phrase and question that is synonymous with my presence when I touch down in my hometown, Freeport, Illinois. I got the name from a man I used to call my favorite uncle. I was told from the day I was born he gave me the nickname “Big Camp” and the family just rocked with it. “Let’s call him Big Camp!” was what he told my mom as I was fresh out the womb. Before I left the hospital I was branded with a nickname that is used to this day. How he came up with it I really don’t know, but it does combine my name first and last name in some way.
My whole McGee family knows me as Camp. Mom, Grandma, Aunties, cousins, everybody calls me “Camp”. It’s just the way it is. In Freeport, you either call me “Camp” or “Cameron”. None of my stage names in music or media have ever stuck back home, lol! I laugh cause I literally have had the hardest time branding myself under one name to be recognized by. I’m called “Killa Cam” more than I’ve been called CamQuotes, Shoohstopugh, The Captain or even Cam at home. It’s hilarious because apparently the branding I always needed, I was born with and just never used it outside of my hometown. I answer to the name “Camp”, so it’s not that I don’t like it. I just never went out of my way to use it or introduce myself as “Camp” to anyone. I remember coming home from College and my mom and I had a conversation on what I go by as far as name is concerned.
She said, “Well you’re a grown man now. I guess it’s no more “Camp”
I said, “I never really thought about it. My friends at school call me Cam”
She said, “So we dropping the P and it’s just Cam now?”
I said, “Whatever works. It doesn’t really matter to me.”
I’ve been thinking all day about going as “Big Camp” as I return to the wild world of radio. I think it’s only right I do. It’s my piece of Freeport that will always be with me. It’s a family name. It’s part of the story of growing up as me. Big Camp is uncommon, standing out and something anyone can say and sound cool. I’m also on a short list of people who would have “Big” in their name and actually be what many consider “Big”, ha! I’m sure I’ll figure it out by the time I get back on Social media. Let’s officially get back into Media first.
Although a great portion of 2017 has been turbulent, there has been some very bright moments. One of them has been my new found love for the city of Chicago. Since returning in August of 2016, I have spent more time than ever in the city of Chicago. West Loop, South Loop and the heart of Downtown have seen a lot of me the past year and some change and it’s honestly been lovely!
Doing freelance writing and hip-hop media got me a chance to meet Jadakiss and Sheek Louch of the L.O.X as well as interview new R&B sensation Kevin Ross and soul singer Kevin Garrett . Those opportunities came through connecting and reconnecting with some of my friends and family that work for labels and run studios in the city. Working for Live Nation gave me the opportunity to see some of the greatest artist and bands ever perform in different parts of the city. Needless to say, my entertainment fix was great this year and still going on as I type.
Chicago has a different vibe when you actually participate in it. The West Loop is nothing like Westchester. The South Loop is nothing like South Holland. Wicker Park isn’t Woodridge and you should be slapped thinking Downtown Naperville and Downtown Chicago come close to comparison. Seeing 12th street beach, the way the House of Blues sign glows at night. The skyline on a cloudy day or even a gorgeous night with the right light breeze all gives you a feel that only being in the city can give you. Driving up and down LSD [Lake Shore Drive] Walking past Solider Field and the Shed Aquarium or strolling the Riverwalk; all incredible feels.
Sometimes I would walk to my car from work, headphones and backpack on and just want to walk another mile or so just to feel the city on a different level. It felt like a small escape. The people in the city are friendlier than many know or say. There is plenty going on even though the majority of the city shuts down by 11pm and the lights illuminate the clean streets and sidewalks like I never noticed before. It’s also a great chance to meet the people visiting Chicago and relate to their joy as a tourist as well as learn about where they’re from. I’ve had a great conversation with a couple from Toronto, Canada. They were in town for the Blue Jays vs Cubs game, but also were partaking in what the city has to offer. Not only were they impressed, they couldn’t understand why so many bad things were said about the city on the news. Chicago is so many different worlds within itself that one person can’t give you the total experience of what it’s like to be in and from Chicago. They also sold me on making a trip to Toronto as soon as possible.
I would love to live for 2 years in the actual city of Chicago, just off of the summer I had. Sure the taxes and the parking can be outrageous, but what downtown city is that not an issue? Besides, I have enough parking apps to say that on any given night, event or not, I’ve parked a minimum of 5 hours for as low as $7 and no higher than $15 for the majority of my time this year. I think a nice loft, downtown near the Riverwalk would be incredible for my spirit and creativity. In some respects, I lived the summer I wanted from 21-25 at 36. Even though I have been adamant for years about loving residential living, I can’t deny how much the hustle, bustle and survival of the city have spoke to me this year. A summer of Chicago will definitely make you fall in love and see it like you’ve never have before. Well played, Chicago; Well played.