Jim Jones: Above The Clouds
Much like his forthcoming bio-doc can show to some a sympathetic figure - someone who survived growing up in the projects in a family plagued by drug addiction and AIDs to reach the heights of Hip Hop success and to others the very walking, talking definition of what is wrong with contemporary get-money-at-all-costs Hip Hop, the "Dipset Capos" recent discussion with HipHopDX seemed to simultaneously reveal the good and bad sides of Jim Jones.
An emcee who to some possesses one of the most uninspired flows in the history of Hip Hop (who openly acknowledged during his discussion with DX that he believes business acumen should supersede skill on the mic) is to others an authentic, simple-and-to-the-point street narrator inspiring those that are struggling like he once struggled to grind towards the good life that has been shamelessly showcased in Jones two biggest hits, We Fly High (a.k.a. Ballin!!!!) and Pop Champagne.
But whether revered or reviled, Jones is clearly an impressive hustler to anybody with eyes to see. In addition to albums, movies and books, he even has a workout DVD on his 09 itinerary [I been a fan of getting in shape for some time now, Jim told DX].
But sometimes the Harlem hustlers incessant drive to achieve more has created unintended consequences.
And while speaking with DX, Jones candidly conceded that his 52 fake out strategy to make he and Camron both bigger and richer stars backfired.
Jimmy also addressed recent allegations of bad business on both he and Cams parts, explained why he pulled Rick Rubin crafted tracks from his new album, what role Dame Dash has in Capos business endeavors, and most importantly who the real Jim Jones is.
HipHopDX: Lets start off on a different note. I wanna ask you about your appearance on Pete Rocks NYs Finest album last year. What did working with a legend like Pete mean to you as a fan of Hip Hop?
Jim Jones: You know, that wasI actually did a few songs with Pete Rock [click to read]. He did a song on my second album called Gs Up, Hoes Down. Pete Rock got that soulful music, so its always good to get on a track with Pete Rock. You get your Hip Hop artist credits on when you do a track with Pete. Its considered authentic Hip Hop music, so you know its always a bonus to be able to do that.
DX: You guys got any plans to collaborate more in the future?
Jim Jones: I mean, yeah, whenever Pete send me some smokers you know Im jumping on those, hands down.
DX: Now another legendary producer you worked with in the past couple years is Rick Rubin. I saw Rick in the trailer for your This Is Jim Jones documentary, but I didnt see his name in the production credits for the new album. So, what role did Rick play in Pray IV Reign?
Jim Jones: Well he gave me a few beats. I recorded [to them]. But you know when you narrow the songs down, they wasnt the strongest records that I felt needed to be on the album even though they are some strong records. But, in the future [the hope is] that I get to do some more music with big boy. You know, hes a legend. And anytime you get to get to make a move like that its a gracious thing. [And] shouts to Rick Rubin also for giving me the opportunity to be signed to Columbia and giving me that big deal. Hes the one that facilitated that. So that was a great thing.
DX: Just out of curiosity, being that Rick basically invented the Rock/Rap hybrid, has he ever said anything to you about your Rock & Roll steez? Did you get the thumbs up from Rick for bringing that Rock style back to Rap?
Jim Jones: Definitely. Rick definitely appreciated my whole Rock & Roll/Rap fusion [style] and all that. He was giving me a couple pointers on some hip Rock & Roll [stores] that I needed to be going to. Chrome Hearts was one of them, even though I was already hip to it. But he was just trying to make sure my Rock & Roll was right.
DX: You definitely have your own unique swag. In the documentary you say that youre relative to everybody thatson the hustle, and on the grind from all walks of life. Expound a little bit for our readers on what the appeal of Jim Jones is to that wide spectrum of folks.
Jim Jones: Well [the] appeal is just the appeal of the working class. If you a hustler Whether you gotta get it in the streets, or whether you gotta wake up [and work] nine-to-five, its a constant struggle so you can stay afloat. And some of us [make] good out of it, and we do exceptionally well. But for the most part it all starts with a hustle and a struggle, and thats what I represent. Even though I talk about ballin all the time, thats cause I struggled so much, and that struggle turned into a hustle and the hustle turned into dollars. And I think people [can] respect that cause they know that Im one of the people that literally came from nothing. And I dont hide nothing. Like, everything you see is what you get - as you can see from all the Internet controversy [involving me] that goes on.
DX: Well get to that. [Laughs] Do you care about the criticisms of you as an emcee though? Does being considered a dope emcee mean as much to you as being considered a great businessman?
Jim Jones: Nope. [Being] a great businessman outweighs the precedent of being a dope emcee. In this business, its 90% business and 10% talent - even though you need at least 10% talent to gain the 90% business. But its better to be a businessman than an artist. Cause you know, the artist shit doesnt last. You could be hot today and cold tomorrow. But a businessman, you could do business for the rest of your life.
DX: Now in the documentary, youre basically presented as a student of Dame Dashs business teaching, and so I was just wondering what role Dame is currently playing in all of your business endeavors?
Jim Jones: Um, I dont know as far as teaching [me], but as far as helping mold me into a good businessman and not let my emotions get in the way and know how to articulate what Im saying and things like that, he has helped me out. And he has helped me with my structure, as far as how to create a business. And Im trying to build a brand. You know Dame is one of the people that has made a lot of history inside of this Rap industry in the past decade, and he doesnt get the credit for it like he deserves. He doesnt have too manyHe doesnt have any failures if you look at it. He got out the game probably at the peak of they career, when they was bubblin the most. So, you gotta give him a lot of credit. So the things that he tell me I take to heart, cause I know that he knows what hes talking about. And plus, Ive [known] Dame all my life. We grew up with each other. Since I was about five, six, I knew Dame.
DX: Youre currently getting your executive grind on as the new V.P. of Urban A&R at E1/Koch. But last year in an interview with Clinton Sparks you said you planned to release a DVD exposing Kochs dirty laundry. So, just tell me like, what was going wrong at Koch for you, and how did yall rectify that situation?
Jim Jones: I still got [a] dirty laundry basket that I could put a DVD out on it and expose em. As long as they keeping me comfortable I have no reason to do that. But, any form of business is shaky. Everybody got skeletons in the closet when it comes to business. So, theres always something you could have on somebody.
DX: And speaking of, you wanna speak at all on the claim by Ivory Keys manager that you stole the beats used for the Bad Santa album and havent paid those producers yet?
Jim Jones: Um, I dont know, man, tell him he needs to come talk to me. [Laughs] I aint hear nobody come speak to me yet. I aint hard to find. [If] they got a problem about something, he shoulda came [and] hollad at me. But these niggas is faggots. They aint coming to holla at me. [Laughs]
DX: While were addressing alleged bad business, can you offer any clarification to Hell Rells recent claim that CamRon stole $236,000 from his For The Hell Of It album budget?
Jim Jones: He probably did! I mean, I dont know, I wasnt involved with that album, but knowing Cam [click to read], he probably did. [But] I dont know, youd have to talk more to Hell Rell [click to read] about that situation. I only know about the money that I havent received in this past decade. [Laughs] Let me stop.
DX: So Juelz Santana, and now Hell Rell, have spoken out, saying these things about Cam doing em dirty on the business side. You just kinda answered the question I think, but how much was the root of all evil at the root of you and his parting?
Jim Jones: I mean, you know it aint really that big. Above all, we grew up like brothers and shit like that. So you know, he doing him, Im doing me. Well see what happen in the near future. If the moneys worth it, then we might jump into something. If not, I wish him the best. But Im hot right now. Im bubblin baby! [Laughs]
DX: Now not to dwell on it to much, but just expound on this verse [from This Is The Life] for me: Gotta watch my brothers, cause Cain can turn on Abel / Gotta watch the money, cause the fame can turn tables. Expound on that a little bit; what was you trying to say?
Jim Jones: I mean, you know, shit, if you read The Bible or if you took any religion courses, or Sunday School, you know what Cain and Abel was about: two brothers, and one brother betrayed his other brother. Betrayal. And you know with money everybody seems to get jaded. And sometimes things can turn for the best and sometimes things can turn for the worst - just that fast.
DX: Its interesting, cause Miss Info claimed in an interview with Tim Westwood a couple months ago that women and jealousy is what really broke yall up. You wanna respond to her claim?
Jim Jones: Nah, I dont believe it was over any particular women or anything like that. I just think that it came to a boiling point. We been around each other so many years it just came to a point where I guess we needed some separation and shit like that. I couldnt tell you right now what was the one main focus [of the friction] and things like that. But everybody has they own speculation. Miss Info [has] known us from the first day we got signed in this game. So she can recall a lot of things that maybe we had forgotten.
DX: In your documentary you said, I told him it was part of the plan for a separation What exactly were you referring to? Like, did yall plan to part at some point?
Jim Jones: No, what I had told Cam a minute ago [was] like, Yo itd be kinda crazy if we was to be able to start a fake beef and shit like that, break up and then come back. Well make so much more money when we come back that wed shit on niggas. And it would all be a 52 fake out. And I cant front, Cam was a little offended by it, and he got a little bit upset. And I think it touched him way more deeper than I ever could know, cause I think that to him that was the beginningone of the beginnings of the end of our relationship. But you know, who cares? Shit, I bet you whenif we do make an album together well get paid more than he ever got, and more than I ever got, hands down.
DX: You kinda just I think spoke on this, in [Frienemies] you make a case for how you were wrongfully betrayed, but do you feel like there was anything that you did in either situation that was wrong on your part that you wish you could change now?
Jim Jones: I mean if you wrong for being loyal, and you wrong for helping people above anything and putting your life on the line, then shit, Im wrong. But if thats not wrong, then I dont really feel that Ive done too much to be so wrong. I wasnt the leader of the bunch on that first [Diplomats] record. I was a businessman, but my name didnt mean nothing if I signed [it] at the bottom of the paper. I needed his signature for anything to go through. So, at the end of the day it was his shop. And as far as the other situation [addressed on Frienemies] [click to listen], hey man, you know when you pick a nigga up out the hood from nothing - a little dirty, pisshead-ass nigga - and give him hundreds of thousands of dollars, then shit, I dont think Im wrong.
DX: I just found [that] sorta ironicI watched the whole video, and at the very end [Max Bs] attorney thanks you on camera for bailing him out and keeping him free to help participate in the defense.
Jim Jones: To help participate in snitching on his own brother, right? Thats really helping participate cooperation with the laws and snitching on his own brother. Thats a damn shame.
DX: Now you [alluded to] this earlier, youre on Worldstar [Laughs] I think like every 20 minutes or something. The hotel security thingthe MTV Spring Break thing
Jim Jones: Well I apologize about the hotel security thing. Sometimes I get a little bit emotional and I let my emotions get the best of me. And that was just the wrong reaction. There was a better way that I coulda handled that I do admit. Thats not the type of thing I wanna be seen doing. But, as for the other things thats just sometimes you cant get away from the ignorance and shit like that.
DX: Yeah, the MTV thing, I watched it a few times [and] it looked like you were actually trying to like stop shit.
Jim Jones: On the MTV thing I broke it up. I told em it wasnt worth it. But nobodys even mentioning that part. They didnt see me grab one of my own security and pull him to the side like, Chill, leave that alone. We outta here. Thats not worth it. So its just not like Im running around here trying to bully everybody. Half of this shit is not necessary, and I be trying to stay away from that shit.
DX: You have any concern that thats whats happening, that people are like using [these incidents] to form this image of you as just this reckless dude who just dont give a fuck about anybody?
Jim Jones: Yeah you know thats what the media do, man. They build you up to tear you down. And at this point in my career, my reputation kinda precedes me a little bit. I try to maintain and be cool. For the people that do know me, they know Im not that type of person.