Ed. Note: Updated 12/31/20 at 5:10 PM to reflect edit to DDm’s lyrics on “FTCU.”
Tew Faced is a debut LP from lauded Baltimore rapper Miss Kam who’s been long overdue for her official introduction to the music industry, the world, and the image of herself that she has always dreamed of. Tew Faced is not Baltimore based Miss Kam’s first time at the rodeo, as she has rocked shows, freestyles, cyphers, and internet craze for over three years now. While her life has been anything far from perfect (even as described in her music), every experience of Miss Kam has shaped her musical statement to the world that heals in the same vein.
I knew Kam from her playful videos of singing Daft Punk-The Weeknd tracks on the Twitter timeline, sharpening her lyrical fangs with mind blowing viral freestyles, shutting down citywide cyphers by her lonesome, having the God of Freestyles King Los–also from Baltimore–drop fire emojis on her raps, and other parts of a legacy that is already vh1 music documentary worthy. As spoken about throughout her project, the journey God brought Miss Kam through has crafted a warrior unlike anything ever seen, thus the reason why she consequently brings that lyrical acuity, viciousness and sagaciousness through a great 14-track debut that is Tew Faced.
When running my radio show in February 2018, I knew I was blessed when I gave Kam her first radio/live interview. She would spit over Good Music’s Clique beat and shake down the entire building. I could sense from her aura alone that she had the spirit of a conqueror, survivor and crusader. It feels like Sway in the Morning when he was telling King Los all the rap greats that freestyle at his house: “I’ve seen the greatest do it…And that’s what it feels like.” It feels like Miss Kam.
In addition to the aforementioned accolades, I smiled every time I saw her achieve everything she deserved from a loving romantic relationship with a great friend (and also top 3 Baltimore rappers of all time in my book), great comrades to keep her focused on her mission, appraisals from her family, acknowledgement from Missy Elliot and the supernatural ability to draw the juggernauts from the greatest city in America to her side during her ascension. When I caught wind of the debut album’s impending release, I wanted to position myself to capture this moment for life as the Tew World Order and age of Miss Kam comes into full effect after divine planning and execution.
Although not a rap song intro, “Intro” was rightfully layered with the storm sound effects, strings and other parts of the instrumental that served as the only correct metaphor of what the West Side Songstress came out of to deliver to the masses. “It’s go time,” she says as her fans and the industry are all hanging by every syllable to come.
A YouTuber and DMV influencer named Ahriel Nari in one of her videos cleverly said that the 2nd track of a project, especially an album, is a defining track because it’s placement truly sets the standard for consistency and strength of a project going forward. If the 2nd track doesn’t grip you, the artist has already lost. That being said, “Headlines” is a certified victory of a track in more ways in one, as Miss Kam effortlessly flexes her versatility with her melodic attack of the beat that feels like a sermon. Miss Kam talks about how she has made it through the rain, how her family is going to war for her as she continues her mission and how she’s still here. The song talks about how her names on national headlines are coming.
“That’s the type of shit that put you on your feet though!” –Miss Kam
“FTCU” is one of the best, more undeniable bangers on the album albeit of its early track placement. I ran this one back multiple times because Miss Kam knows how to make a damn hook when she puts her mind to it. A frequent fault of talented lyrical rappers is not being able to balance cleverly simple song/hook writing skills in their arsenal. Miss Kam would strike you in a [good] daze with punchlines with bars like “I got him pussy whipped, I keep that nigga in my pocket,” as her features (Kotic Coture & DDM) finish stomping out the beat with stellar punchlines, pockets of flow, exemplary breath control and many more aspects of replay value.
“Not bad for a fat bitch, and if we fuckin we gon need a bigger mattress…You can’t stop my bag, the bitch Telfar, I put niggas to work like I was HR.” –DDM
“Help Me” is one for the Geminis and dually a testimony for all who know Kam as actually-factually being about that fucking action at any point in time. Kam is able to effortlessly mix instant-rewind worthy quotable punchlines like her Taylor Swift punchline, as well as well as make you pause your play button with lines like
“Niggas been conscious over coochie and my woke ass getting licked on.” –Miss Kam
Keeping the same energy is evidently one of Miss Kam’s best qualities, as “Fight Night” is 1000% “pull up at the gas station and murk your whole platoon” type of rap music. With great bars abundant–per usual–Kam shows that she can hurt more than fragile ass feelings of a hater if motivated.
The duality and balance as emphasized in Geminis harnesses its full, gorgeous form in the poetry of “Resentment”, as Miss Kam aggressively recants the transgressions trying to end her life while eloquently reciting (practically verbatim) a conversation with God about his plan for her future. I truly haven’t heard a authentic conversation from a rapper directly to God on this musical level since Kendrick Lamar’s “How Much a Dollar Cost” on To Pimp a Butterfly in 2015.
It’s apparent Miss Kam and her team studied the game, because it’s easy to surmise that the album was split into intentional acts, with “Conversations” continuing the same energy as the last track, but going deeper than before. I wrote earlier in the introduction of this review about my personal relationship with Miss Kam. During our first interview, she mentioned Lil Wayne, Jay Z and other Hip Hop greats as her influences. Miss Kam is a marvelously trained rapper as shown at this halfway point of the album. With other rap artists nowadays, we get rap tracks over just two minutes, unfulfilling brief EPs and a lack of three rap verses on a deep track to signify the love of the art craft. This isn’t meant as an insult, but the zeal behind three exemplary rap verses and rap tracks beyond three minutes really contributed to some of the all time greats, and there’s a reason a lot of rappers cannot come close to those benchmarks of legendary—ageism and Hip Hop traditionalism aside. Miss Kam displays all of her essence as a student of a game with tracks like “Conversations” conjuring three heavy, layered verses discussing her spirituality, conversations with her father given their tumultuous relationship at times, and a grandstanding final verse. This track feels like a full-course rap meal unlike anything I have ever gotten in a while from modern rappers.
“Kam’s Prayers” is an interlude and finishes the spiritual act of the album with a very intimate and direct offering to the Creator before she continues her mission.
The last act of the album illuminates the artistic range of Miss Kam both lyrically as a rapper and as an artist in general. The Ne-Yo lyric “I’m a movement by myself, but I’m a force when we’re together,” is no more perfect than for the Baltimore Renaissance Rap couple of Miss Kam and Chris Cassius. There’s no reason to “stan” or idolize the relationships of individuals other than you and your partner, whether you know them or not (yes idc if I bust bubbles). Au contraire, Miss Kam and Chris Cassius definitely make that an easy thing to do with their brave love story, constant support of each other on and offline, their oral testimonies of each other if you ask them, and most relevantly, their certified collaborations that are the zeitgeist of the romantic media cliché “we would make beautiful music together.” You can check out Miss Kam’s discography and see past examples of her and her brolic and barred-up Baltimore partner killing every track they toe tag together, but “Haters Watchin’” gives the most recent evidence to their consistent canon together. Cassius’ ablids (showcasing his songwriting range) are cleverly placed in ways that industry execs would pay good dollars for whilst Miss Kam’s vocals unequivocally display that she could quit this rap shit today and still have the industry begging at her feet with her layup melodies on tight beats. Chris Cassius catches the alley-oop with one of his typical exemplary verses which have all the technicalities of great rap elements down to the very last line. This track is a personal favorite.
Miss Kam continues the act of artistic versatility in this album with “Just Like That”. The track sounds experimental but the vocals again deliver for something out of her usual rap skills. “No Bluffin” is cleverly placed in this project and this act, because it was Miss Kam’s first single from what I remember. No gimmicks, no carbon copies…just knuckle in your face rap that didn’t once mince its grit. In the context of her entire journey, this track not only sounds even better today but foreshadowed everything that was to occur in her rap career going forward.
“Trick Em’ Out” sounds like a fun track that still emphasizes Kam’s rap ability and creativity but plays as a bonus track. This is not to criticize the track too harshly, but even though it retains Kam’s skills, it does not match the stark energy of other standout tracks in her debut.
“Problem Child”, however, is an unambiguous, pure-grade good ass rap in which songwriting and lyrical rap ability make a beautiful marriage from start to finish, showing that Miss Kam can throw down with any peer if she was thrown into any rap era. As bold as that claim is, “Problem Child” gives evidence as to why.
Right before I traveled to China and heard her perform it at The Demo Tape’s “Late Registration” back to school fundraiser on August 25th, 2018, I remember the buzz when Miss Kam first released “Chopstix” to raving reviews. She rode that banging single until today, live performance after live performance, and it never lost its star power. “Chopstix” is the perfect way to conclude her debut album as she ascends into future stardom.
Miss Kam has paid her dues and the fruits of her labor are paying her back tenfold through the city. What a time to be alive for a Baltimorean and observers of the current city culture. If anything else, I hope Miss Kam can feel all the energy that supports her marvelous composition–body, mind, soul. A full-circle artist experience that spirals into the star themselves, Miss Kam’s Tew Faced is definitely a debut album to remember.
You can follow Miss Kam on Twitter and Instagram at @heymisskam, checking out her website heymisskam.com for more updates, purchasing/streaming the album on Bandcamp.