Camper is a superstar in his own right. And if you’re looking for a fire producer or songwriter, he’s definitely the one.

Born and raised in Mays Landing, New Jersey, real name Darhyl Camper Jr. first got his start working on “Hoodstar” for Bow Wow and Omarion when he was just 16 years old. 17 years later, his extensive catalog of hits have amassed over 100 million records sold and over 20 Grammy nominations to his name.

In describing himself, Camper states, “Camper is human. Camper is the hero to some, Camper is a brother to some. Camper is a tribe to some. Camper is immortal. Camper is legendary.”

And while he’s worked with all the elites in the music industry — from Brandy to Jay Z to Chris Brown to Backstreet Boys — nothing means more than his most recent accomplishment: having 5 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 at the same time.

Camper serves as a co-producer on Ye and Ty Dolla $ign’s most recent release, Vultures 1, which peaked at #1 on the Billboard 200 albums charts. 

Sheen Magazine spoke with Camper about his upbringing, his first placements, favorite Brandy song, working with Coco Jones, and his forthcoming compilation album titled CAMPILATION.


What was it like growing up in Mays Landing, New Jersey?,

It’s a small town. Country, has its suburban areas. 15 minutes away from Atlantic City where I’d go every weekend to play at churches. Have some family out there as well. Very small town, intimate town. Nothing comes from it. [laughs] I’m very blessed to be one of those ones to come out of that. Mays Landing is a town nobody knows about, it was cool though.

When did you fall in love with music?

Around 11, 12. I started playing piano when I was 6, but I was forced to do lessons. My parents tried to get me in early. I didn’t like it at first. I was a basketball head, I still play basketball to this day. I won 5 games in a row today. I said I want to be a ballplayer! I don’t want to do music, but I still stuck with it for whatever reason. 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, then I finally gave in around 11. Started to fall in love with it.

Which artists inspired you?

My father was a musician. Amazing vocalist, amazing guitar player. I started there, he introduced me to Earth, Wind & Fire, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones. I love J Dilla, he’s my favorite producer. 

I just interviewed Slum Village!

Forreal? J Dilla’s my favorite producer, then after him is Ye. But J Dilla, he had that groove. He just knew. He understood musicality, characters, realness, and vulnerability. Even on his deathbed, he was making the hardest music he’s ever made in his entire life. His life was on the line, and he’s still making hits like it’s nothing. It’s so crazy.

What was the moment you got on?

Man, it was so many moments. It’s a lot of pieces that continue to put the puzzle together. I had a great moment at 16, my first placement ever in life was with Bow Wow and Omarion off the Face Off album (“Hoodstar”). I did two songs with R. Kelly when I was 17, 18. When he was on, he was poppin’. That was a moment, then I worked with the Backstreet Boys. That was a moment. I did a song called “Shattered” for them. My first #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts was “Marvin & Chardonnay” that I produced with Pop Wansel, Big Sean, and Ye. Got my first #1 ever, I was 20 years old. I thought my life was gonna change then, but it was just a moment. Gonna have to continue to keep working. 

I had more success with Elle Varner, I did “Refill.” We were Grammy nominated for that song. We lost, but it was still cool. “Love and War,” Tamar Braxton. Same thing: Grammy nominated for that. We didn’t win, but it was still cool. I linked up with a girl named her H.E.R., aka Gabby Wilson. We made history together. That was a great moment, so it’s continued to go. Even me now: 5 songs on the new Vulture 1 album, with Ye and Ty$. They’re all charted on the Hot 100, I’m excited about that. The first time in my career that’s ever happened to me.

So all 5 songs from that album are charting?

All 5 songs that I produced with Ye and Ty$ are on the Hot 100 charts right now, as we speak. Including a song I produced with Kanye called “Talking,” featuring North West. Kanye West’s daughter. That’s her first time being charged on the Hot 100 charts, at #30. All the moments continue to go together.


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How is it celebrating the success of the project?

I haven’t yet. I’ve been working. My head is still down. I’m not even worrying about the success yet. Although I’m breaking records right now that I never did in my career myself personally, I’m still so focused on the next thing. I’m not even worried about that shit. 

You have over 20 Grammy nominations. Are you keeping count? 

No. [laughs] I’ma have some more next year.

What’s the favorite song you’ve done with Brandy?

All of them. She’s my favorite singer of all time. I don’t have a favorite, she’s my favorite.

How did you end up working with her?

I’ve been knowing her for a long period of time in my life and she wanted to work with me. I always wanted to work with her. I always wanted to vibe and see what it would be. We got in and the rest is history. Every time we get in, it’s the same thing. How we feel, the feelings we have, put in the music and it’s the most special thing I could ever do.

Favorite Bandy song?

Shoot, let me think. [long pause] Not thinking, “Full Moon.” I love the beat, I love how she was riding the beat. I love the vocals and ad libs, how she presented and carried… man. When I heard it for the first time, it was so special to me. I’m like, what is this? It hasn’t been a song out since that.

How was it working with Coco Jones?

Amazing man. Love Coco man, she’s the sweetest. She has a beautiful soul. She has a great great great voice. She’s very talented and very special, has great potential to be one of the pioneers in the game. I love what we’ve done together. Her album’s coming. We won a Grammy for “ICU.” I’m just happy I get a chance to showcase what I can do for her and how it translates to the world. She’s a star.

What can we expect from your album CAMPILATION

The greatest R&B album you ever heard in your life.

Are you singing on it? 

Yes. A couple songs.

What other features?

[laughs] I’ll tell you. Jeremih confirmed. Ari Lennox is confirmed. Ty$ of course. My artist, the Amours. It’s two girls. Alex Isley, Kelly Rowland, of course Gabby (H.E.R.). Oh Lucky Daye.

Myself. Of course Brandy. It’s gonna be 3 volumes, so this the first volume. Then I’ma start working on volume 2, volume 3.


Photo Credits: Kim Davis PR + Branding