So Harlem Pt. 1
Any long-time fan of the Diplomats is familiar with Freekey Zekey, the most extreme member of the Dipset fam. Known for his outrageous video appearances and album skits, his energetic hypeman performances and legal problems, Zeke, who’s been free from prison since November, is ready to get back into Dipset mode. He’s been busy recording his solo debut Book of Ezekiel.
XXLMag.com recently caught up with the Diplomats president to talk about his rap career, the origins and future of Dipset and the recent explosive Hot 97 radio convo between Cam’ron and 50 Cent. Less than a week after we sat with Zeke, the beef between 50 and Cam elevated when 50 released “Funeral Music,” a song and video going at Killa Cam. Later that same day Cam dropped “Curtis” his own 50 diss. You can hear both tracks in XXLMag.com Bangers. We were unable to catch up with Zeke again (apparently he “lost his phone”) but what he did say, explained some things. Check it out.
A few weeks ago 50 Cent visited the Angie Martinez Show and called Koch Records, the indie label the Diplomats are signed to, “a graveyard.” Your Dipset partner Cam’ron called in to chat with 50 and defend Koch. Things got a little hectic…
So Killa's in the crib, King Jaffe Jo, listening to Hot 97. We out here working now ’cause he's the head, no homo, dude, and now we just get him cake. Anytime he hear anything that sounds like it's gonna destroy Diplomats or it got some type of conflict with Diplomats… ’cause right now, Jim is the number one person on Koch. That “Ballin’” song is the hottest song in America. [Cam] heard 50 Cent say something in that factor. The first light bulb that flashed in his head was when  said Koch is the graveyard. Second, he said he'll destroy the best artist on there. Jim is the best artist on there. He just reacted. This is just old school brotherly love since we was little. We knew each other for over twenty years. That's like if we walking in the street and somebody was like, “Yo, fuck that nigga, Jim.” Bong! I'm smashing the nigga. It's aggressive competition but at the end of the day, niggas is making money, niggas is out the street, really.
Do you think 50’s words were out of order?
I'm saying, he don't know what he talking about, yo. He just mentioning shit ’cause at the end of the day Prodigy is on Koch, so how you gone call that the graveyard and send them there? Basically he's just rambling because he don't know there's other smart people out there and he figure he could throw a couple things out there and people on different record labels don't know too much about different artists. But we cover everything, we on every scene, that's why we still do what we do on a high level.
Break down Dipset right now. What’s your role?
My status on Diplomat Records is, I'm the President. Being the President of Diplomat Records basically entails everything from signing the check, signing the artist to all the way down to cleaning the office. We got people to do that but we just grew up from the grind together. Everything we did was always together: me, Jim and Killa did everything together so we took all the losses. When we was on Sony we was getting raped by Untertainment. We was 16, 17 and they gave us a six, a house, $350,000 bonus and that's not even counting the signing.
You were just happy to be on.
But we didn't know that Untertainment took half our publishing and Sony got the other half. Next thing you know we in the whole $1.4 million. We all grew together so the roles, it went from nothing to something.
There have been rumors of tension amongst Dipset lately.
Nah, honestly, Jim does what he... right now we all individual artists. We're always gonna be Dipset, but right now Cam got his thing as does Jim, Juelz and myself. Everybody sees us as a crew, but once you just see somebody getting higher and higher...
What do you think about Jim's success?
I love it! I went in [to jail] when we didn't have shit. We was fucked up! I'm in there, I'm watching Killa do his thing, everybody just blew. I'm like “cha-ching, cha-ching.” For myself, yeah, I'm about to get it. It's just that Jim is escalating and he's getting to the apex of his success so people is gonna start to look and see. And he's on a demand right now so everybody's grabbing and screaming “Jim.” So of course a rumor gonna spit out that Cam is getting jealous or whatever. Like we just went out to his house after a video shoot for "Emotionless." That's a dead issue. We're always gonna be one, tight knit. Watch when I pop. The rumors gonna be about me ‘cause I'ma be in high demand. It might happen where I might wanna shoot something in London and Cam and everybody here and they see the video with just me and my niggas. They gonna be like, “What happened?" You know how people start making up their own, but that's good though.
Tru Life has had some not so nice things to say about Dipset lately. What are your thoughts on that?
He's some dude trying to make a name for himself. Every time you wanna be somebody or do something with your life, you always at least go for the top. He probably figured, If I touch a nerve with them, everyone will start talking about me. Honestly, I don't even know the dude. I don't know who he is still. Like I seen a picture of her, I mean him, and I still don't know the nigga. But anyway, now Jim took over Tru Life. At the end of the day, nobody really wants to get physical with us. I'm not gonna sit here and poke my chest out like we the toughest people in the world ’cause there's always somebody tougher. But I will say that we got tough and we got ghetto with us. Honestly, if it was like that, we be in studios, we be at events, stuff be shouted all over the radio so he know where to find us. Obviously he don't really wanna be involved like that. He don't really want no problems with Harlem like that.
How did it get to the point where Dipset had such a huge fallout with Roc-A-Fella?
The time when [Cam's Jay-Z] diss song [“Gotta Love It”] came out, Cam' did his thing, that was about like three to four years later. 2002 when we signed to the Roc, don't get me wrong, we was doing cartwheels and back flips and everybody like, "We on the Roc now? What? We outta here!" At the time, if anybody was on the Roc, they was good. So that's what we felt but for some reason [and] to this day I still don't know why, the nigga Jay just never fucked with us. We’d ask him to come to the studio. He won't show up. Cam called his phone—voicemail. Cam would be like, "Hello, this is Cam'ron, the rapper. I'm calling to say, what's up." He never responded for no reason. So now we like, “Hold on. What you dong this for?” Then it was a situation with [DJ] Lenny S, where Jim slapped Lenny S. You know when you call your mans and them to back you up, [Memphis] Bleek got out. So we like, "Oh word? So you coming to fight?" That's what really parted the sea from there on. But, you know, [Jay’s] the type of guy that wants to be on the single and act like, “I'm the one.” I guess he got some bullheaded shit with him. But he's not even a factor because niggas is making money. Who cares? Niggas ain't really interested in Jay. Plus, L.A. Reid handles all our Def Jam stuff, so, he's a lint on the shoulder.
A lot of people are surprised that you are rapping. They’re more familiar with you as the hype man and for your skits on Cam albums and Dipset mixtapes. What are you offering with your solo debut, Book of Ezekiel?
I always believed in the man, the Lord and shit. When I was in jail, once in awhile when I was stressed and needed to calm down, I learned patience. When I wanted to pop off on a nigga and slap the shit out of somebody, I went to that. I'm flippin’ through the Bible and I went to that, the book of Ezekiel and the Lord told Zeke, "Go over there. Tell them niggas to stop playing or I'ma roast 'em!" So I'm like, Damn, let me speak to my peoples. Let me put them on onto shit that popped off in my life, that pops off period before they get roasted. The way these little niggas move out here, trust me, you gon’ get roasted! My album gonna be instructions on how to move in the hood. I'm the hood Malcolm X, damn near. Right now I got about twenty songs done. I can't say who but I am working with some big down South rappers. I want niggas to really feel me and hear me. I ain't work with no major producers, but these niggas that I got, that's giving me crack, is gonna be major when I'm finished.