There are stories all around us; for Cam Taylor ’19, these stories are what fuel his passion for rapping and poetry. Even though he did not grow up in a very musical family, Taylor listened to a lot of music growing up and was first inspired by his brother, who started writing poetry before Taylor. However, Taylor did not know this interest would become a lifelong passion until he came to Deerfield.
“The straw that broke the camel’s back that made me want to start rapping was when I came here [Deerfield] and saw Mamadou rap,” recounts Taylor. When he heard Mamadou Yattassaye ’17 rap at the winter and spring KFC, he made Mamadou a promise that he would perform next the year. From then on, music became Taylor’s passion, and the studio became his “mini holy temple.”
Upon entering this “holy temple,” it becomes immediately apparent that Taylor has transformed an interest into a life pursuit. Sitting near the microphone with a sweatshirt pulled over his head and stocking-clad feet, Taylor describes himself as an artist who “writes under the same conditions but under different circumstances.” While his conditions and process may stay constant, his music depends on where he is, what he is thinking about, and how he is feeling in that moment.
Taylor also strives to convey diversity through his lyrics and the flow of the music. This attention to diversity occurred when Taylor came to Deerfield, because he was able to come in contact with many different stories that he could use as a source of inspiration.
“Rap talks about the struggle. Where you’re from and where you want to go,” Taylor said. “I never lose sight of that when I’m rapping.”
The real basis of Taylor’s ideas stem from a more grounded approach: being humble, respectful, and grateful. Throughout his interview, Taylor highlighted that focus is what drives his whole process. When he is in the studio, he not only respects the people who work with him and critique his work, but also, Taylor says, “I respect the mic, I respect the headphones, I respect the studio, the space, the atmosphere, and everything it offers me.”
This attention to respect is what makes Taylor both a good artist and collaborator Christina Li ’20 observes. As an artist herself, Li has worked with Taylor several times and comments on how he is always asking her for her opinion and he often supports her in her own development as an artist.
This fall, Li co-hosted the Student Arts Showcase and was involved in choosing the performers, one of which was Taylor. Li comments that Taylor was an obvious choice because of his talent as an artist and his commitment to his music. Elven Shum ’20, a second host, said, “It’s so great to see people like Cam introducing the Deerfield community to different and new mediums of art. I think that rap is so important to our generation and to how we communicate. Cam’s work serves as a reminder to all of us that rap as a genre is not only catchy but also the lyrics are meaningful.” However, Taylor admits that when he was asked to do the showcase he was taken aback.
Taylor’s approach to the art of storytelling through a lense of respect is unique. He never stops showing his love and gratitude for this passion, even freestyling a few lines at the end of his interview.
Be sure to look out for his new project dropping in two weeks on SoundCloud (and perhaps on Spotify!), and, in Taylor’s words, “stay humble, stay grounded.”