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FEATURE: Jim Jones, What’s Really Good? 2.0

[Editor’s Note: These are the outtakes to the edited interview that appears in the March 2009 issue of XXL.] Weren’t you one of the first ones putting out crew mixtapes? Like real, complete Diplomat crew mixtapes that were coming out…

Jim Jones: It was us and G-Unit that brought out the first of those kinds of mixtapes. I definitely would say that. I’m not gonna take the whole credit ’cause around the same time we did it, 50 and them did it. And I don’t know which one hit the stores first, but it was that then…

XXL: You know it’s interesting that you guys never got into it. And everybody says that East Coast crews wouldn’t get into it for some reason, almost wanted it somehow. I’m talking pre-Cam radio scene with 50 on Hot 97. I’m talking just over years before that point. I think people always thought that was cool that two crews could run without that happening but people were kind of always waiting for it, know what I mean?

Jones: I don’t know…when you deal with the G-Unit’s and the Diplomats, it’s kinda, sorta like looking in the mirror in some ill twisted way. I mean, 50’s a genius amongst anything else, he’s one of the smarter people in the game. Doing something to hurt us in some ill twisted way was like doing something to hurt them in some ill twisted way. ’Cause it would be like a world war at this point. The nuclear bombs is clearly gonna wipe the Earth clearly off the map, like, that’s how disgusting it would get. It wouldn’t benefit us no way ’cause we both were so influential and had so much power that I don’t think it could really stay within rap music because of how much power that we still possess in the streets.

XXL: And being so close together ultimately…

And ultimately people that may not be directly in your crew but they’re people looking up to us so much and out here running these streets and believe in the music so much that they take it upon theyselves to indulge in what we would call a rap beef. Then it would have in turn turned into a real live beef.

XXL: Sometimes they might do dumb shit.

Jones: All the time. Especially when you come with these types of magnitudes of groups. That’s a very scary thing. Even though people and the media and everybody been hoping for it in an ill twisted way but me myself, I’m glad that it never perspired to be any of that type of event because one, I don’t have the energy for that right now and that’s a lot of energy, that’s a lot of playing chess, that’s a lot of strategizing. Which I’m always ready to do at a drop of a dime, but right now, shit if you don’t have to, the best wars are won without any violence. You dig?

XXL: Okay, so we’ve all seen your going on stage with 50 as a promotional move. So what was that at that point after all that Cam stuff because it seems like something like that is a statement.

Jones: That, without the Cam stuff, would have happened regardless.

XXL: So why not sooner then?

Jones: Because I had no vested interest in it happening sooner, you dig? I had an album ’bout to come out. Kanye had the biggest promotional stunt and publicity stunt in years and I had an avenue to get free publicity for Jim Jones as a brand, as a rebel, not siding with anybody just doing me meaning that I could do what I pretty much feel.

XXL: So as an outsider, I’m at that show and I’m like, I gotta see Jim come on stage with 50. Like Everybody move outta my way, I gotta see it first hand” because as a fan, it’s some sort of statement. It’s some sort of “What the fuck?”

Jones: About the stage thing, I really didn’t care what nobody thought. I was concerned with getting in front of people, getting in front of as many people as I can, getting as much publicity, getting as much radio, calling up to ask me questions, it was all about me promoting. I come from an independent, so any form of publicity is good because we can get as many avenues as the major deals.

XXL: Right, you gotta work those records…

Jones: If you ask me, this year would I have done the same thing. As of last year I might tell you no, because I had the same power as far as promotion and marketing and advertising as all the other major players, which I didn’t have last year, you dig? So I was like a pirate last year.

XXL: So are you held back a little bit now because of the major or are you where you wanna be?

0 I’m not where I wanna be but I don’t hold back. I make the right decisions now. I don’t have to be as aggressive and put myself out there as much as I did like, whether people see you at that stage or not, they gotta understand that it was a calculated risk. Who knows what were to happen when I did go on that stage? So some people might say it’s stupid, like, everybody has their own opinion. Me myself, I know that it was a calculated risk to build my brand and make me some more money that I could bring back home and it ended up being a bonus for everybody, you dig? That goes to show that Black people can make some money together, can get on the stage together no matter what’s going on amongst anything else. Like, there’s a certain way you handle your business, if you have a problem or if you don’t, everything is not for everywhere and everything is not for everybody to see. I mean when we’re younger and coming up in the streets, we’re a bit ignorant. And we want to make an example and we want to make the biggest bang and the biggest move that we could. We would go right to jail for doing that, how could we try to pull off what we were doing as teenagers and we in front of the camera everyday, you dig? So that would have been stupid on any of our parts, to try to pull something like that off. ’Cause it goes a little further than somebody putting they hands on, and somebody’s going to jail. And we all got a lot of money so it’s a touchy game we playing here.

XXL: You got a lot more to lose right? So you’re on a major now. How has a major treated you that an indie hasn’t?

Jones: I don’t know if they treated me any different. It’s a business amongst all so everyone has their own position, they have employees there that get paid every week and whether they work my album or they don’t, they still get paid at the end of the week. What is there is more opportunities, more business opportunities, the relationships they have with different people. Like, I get access to they Rolodex and for me, I been at it so long, it’s how I activate Jim Jones as a brand inside the building more so as opposed to waiting for them to create opportunities. So what me and Dame [Dash] been doing, we been going in there with a full-proof plan, deck and everything, and put on that deck everything that we want to accomplish, and in turn that has sparked some ambition inside the people at Columbia to wanna work even harder to make this project to be the bomb ’cause they see the potential in it.

XXL: They genuinely believe in it.

Jones: Now when you first sign a person like Jim Jones, how would you feel at a label? You wouldn’t know what to think, like, ‘Damn, what we ’bout to go through now?’ So for me, it was a chance to show people that I’m a different type of person than what you may perceive me to be or from the pictures that I’ve painted for myself to do the things I had to do to get up in this building.-Vanessa Satten

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