Jim Jones: Baaaallin!!!
Two years prior, Joseph Guillermo Jones was born in Harlem, USA. He too would grow up to lead what has been described as a cult-like following, better known as the Dipset movement.
That movement has sold millions of records, spawned the rap careers of several heavyweights and helped to define (re-define) East Coast hip hop during the early part of this decade. Camron, and Juelz Santana have thus far led the way musically, each chiseling out a name for himself among the dozens of New York representatives vying for commercial success and longevity. But driving their success, almost in the background, was Jim Jones, aka the Capo, aka One Eye Willie, aka The Kufi Smacker. Credited for his authentic blend of street smarts, business savvy, and pure huslters ambition, Jim Jones has helped create arguably the worlds most successful collective of New York artists.
Details aside, (you can read up on Dipset history on Myspace) its safe to say that Jones and the Diplomats have enjoyed considerable commercial success, with several controversial stops along the way. In a candid, if not downright confrontational interview, Jim Jones talked with HHDX about rumors of problems between he and Diplomat Records co-founder Camron, his positions on Jay-Z and Nas, and being a part of bringing New York hip hop back.
HHDX: Lets start with the album. What can fans expect from Hustlers P.O.M.E?
JJ: Hustlers POME: More money more problems man, Ive been going through a lot as far as the business end of things, try to ahh, test and see how the street its a little bit difficult, its all wrapped in one, you know what Im saying? I got Lil Weezy, Baby on there, Diddy on there, I got a couple things going on, but for the most part its a wholesome project.
HHDX: And Diplomat records has signed Katt Williams, right?
JJ: Yeah we signed Katt Williams to a deal, it should be real fun.
HHDX: I see. With all of the moves that youve been making, there have also been reports that theres been a disconnect between you and Cam in terms of business affairs. I hesitate to use the word beef, but is there anything going on with you and Cam?
JJ: What do you mean?
HHDX: I mean is there any truth to the notion that you and Cam are having problems with each other?
JJ: Naw thats false.
HHDX: So theres nothing to (those rumors) at all?
There it is. Still, with Jim masterminding so many deals, and now blowing up as a solo artist, one cant help but wonder if egos arent starting to flare up in the boardroom. Right now, Dipset is virtually everywhere. Theres Sizzurp, his premium liquor company, as well as a clothing line that is due out 2007. Jones has also inked a joint-venture deal with skate team BUnique & Co. to create an innovative hip hop skate team (think: DipSkate). Add to that a recently released DVD documentary about his life, several on-going mix-tape projects, and a new label. Toss in a reality-TV series on VH1, and youve got what most people would refer to as a media mogul.
HHDX: Are you comfortable with the title media mogul?
JJ: Thats a pretty new one to me, media mogul. But um its all a hustle to me man, like I gotta live good and get out out of the ghetto and I dont plan to got back so I gotta seize every opportunity I can. They tell me that life repeats itself; opportunity never, so you gotta seize that moment. Thats what Im trying to do.
HHDX: What can you tell me about Byrdgang?
JJ: Ahh, its a new label subsidiary of Diplomat Records, just another way for us to make some money, I did a deal over at Asylum, Byrdgang-Assylum, so were working.
HHDX: Gotcha. Whats going on with the reality show? Is that still in the works?
JJ: Ahh yeah something like that. I dont know who leaked it, but its something like that.
HHDX: What do you mean: something like that, is there a reality show or not?
JJ: Yeah its a reality show- we gonna see what happens. I dont really wanna talk about it but its something big in the works.
HHDX: Everyones talking about or claiming that theyre bringing New York back, including you. What does that phrase mean to you?
JJ: I dont think New York really went anywhere. If you want to go make movies you go to Hollywood, if you want to do music you go to New York, but we out there a little bit lac on the music side as far as the artistry but on the business side were big pimpin. And Im just happy to be a part of bringing back art the whole New York thing.
Hmm thats interesting considering the recent diss tracks and reports of beef between the Dipset and Jay-Z & Nas. In case you missed it, Jim released a track titled Alarm earlier this month on which he references a certain Mike Jordan coming out of retirement.
HHDX: Any comment on the recent diss track aimed at Jay-Z? Should we expect any more of that on the album?
JJ: Ahh, I dont talk about Jay, I was talking about Michael Jordan. You need to listen to the music a little bit more.
HHDX: So theres no more Tru Life or ROC (A-Fella) problems?
JJ: (Angrily) Hey nigga, the only animosity I got is towards the devil, and if you want a problem with that I promise niggas is gonna go meet him.
HHDX: Is that a fact? How about Nas? Any more problems with Mr. Jones?
JJ: I got no problems with Nas, that shit old. Let Nas cool out man, he old man. He rocking rope chains now man, let that man rest. Heh!
HHDX: Ok. Well what about the relationship with Warner. Is everything still good as far as being Director of A&R?
JJ: Definitely real good. Lyor Cohen is still hustling over there, they gave me a great opportunity man, Im counting my blessings right now. It feels good to be in my position.
HHDX: Hustlers P.O.M.E. is on the way, where did you get the concept?
JJ: Yeah, Nov 7th album will be in stores, the album is called Hustlers POME Product Of My Environment. I grew up in Harlem, man. We grew up wanting to be like the hustlers, with the fast cars, the pretty women the money, the clothes, the jewelry. And thats what we aspire to be. But to try and get there you gotta do a lot of shit that I aint too proud of. You dont know that when youre just a kid, youre so nave to what goes on-that people live like that. Thats exactly what I am, a product of my environment but on the flip side if you look at me nowadays you wanna be like me- I embody a hustler but a different type of hustler. This is legal living. You cant get locked up for this. You wanna be like me you can.
HHDX: So then youre cool with people using words like community leader to describe Jim Jones?
JJ: I dont really wanna be nobodys community leader. I just know that when I was coming up there was a lot things that if I had somebody like me to come and holla at us, and showing me love to try and give back a lot of stuff woulda turned out different man. We gone rock this thing till the wheels fall off, man fly high and thats forever. We aint gone let you down. Dipset.