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FEATURE: Jim Jones, Harlem Renaissance

From hype man to front man, you gotta love Jim Jones’ hustle. Hip-hop has literally seen him go from the background to the lime light in a matter of a mere few years and the Harlemite is loving every minute of it. He embraces the controversy, some would even say he feeds on it. But no matter what your opinion of the Dipset capo is, chances are you have an opinion on him and that’s exactly what he wants.

From his highly publicized family feud with his former crew leader, to collecting checks as a record label executive, to having his very own stage play Hip Hop Monologues: Inside the Life & Mind of Jim Jones, the industry has seen a lot of Jimmy recently. caught up with Jones during a rare moment of down time as he reminisced on his skateboarding days, the new direction for his music, why he’s still “disappointed” with Cam and why he wants to totally leave the music industry.

XXLMag: Pray IV Reign is out right now and this record has a different feel than your previous stuff, a little more R&B, a little more radio friendly. Was that the formula or did it just happen like that?

Jim Jones: It happened like that and I was also trying to create songs like that. I just tried to mix it up a little bit. I’m trying to make a little more money this time. I’ve seen a lot. I’ve experienced different things, so that’s what happens when you grow.

XXL: You’ve had a much bigger presence and push for this album than your previous releases. Is that a reflection of where you are now in your career?

Jones: That’s because Columbia paid me all that fucking money [laughs]. Them big ass machines all they want is the biggest and richest artists. They got that power. I couldn’t wait to get in there and abuse that machine and go crazy with it. That’s a reflection of what you see. Shout out to Koch because without them I wouldn’t be here but the step to Columbia was just for these reasons, so people could say that. They got that marketing strategy and spending more of that marketing money so I appreciate that people are noticing that.

XXL: One of your more personal joints off the album is the “Frenemies” track, where you address the split with you and Cam. What made you wanna put that situation in the music?

Jones: It’s music, it’s rap music. This is what we living. My life is on camera. My life is my music so what am I hiding, nah mean ? I had to tell people the answers sometimes, especially when they know what it’s all about, ya dig? So I just wanted people to understand it from my point of view and understand a little bit more some of the reasons that some of these things are going on. But for the most part, we trying to make this happen. Shout out to Cam, shout to Freekey Zekey, Juelz Santana.

XXL: It sounds like on the track like you had some emotion about the situation, like you almost felt hurt. Is that accurate to say?

Jones: More disappointed than hurt, ya dig ? Being disappointed and being hurt are two different things. Your girlfriend can hurt you. Everything else is a disappointment.

XXL: Were you also disappointed when Cam was asked about you and he replied “who is that?”

Jones: Um, nah. I know what that was about. I wasn’t mad at that. What I’ma be mad at that for ? That’s the media, c’mon. That was just him being Cam. That’s Jason Bourne. He watch movies a lot and shit like that. I mean, of course it’s publicity. My album’s coming out and then all of a sudden he pops up with an album. It’s all marketing, baby. There’s no rules to this. We both cut from the same cloth. We both got similar strategies so hey, why not?

XXL: Ok, on another note, I know you got your skate team Dip Skate that people in hip-hop circles don’t really talk about too much. What do you have planned for that?

Jones: I’m trying to get the whole X Games thing going with Dip Skate and everything so that’s what I been focusing our energy on. We been quiet for a minute but I’m trying to get it together. That’s a lucrative business, nah mean?

XXL: What’s your interest in the skate culture ? Can we catch you on a skateboard around Harlem?

Jones: Nah, nah. I’m not skating. If I see a skateboard I might jump on it and ride around for a minute but for the most part I’m not skating anymore. I used to do that when I was younger, I was pretty good at it. I had fun with it and now I do business with it. But I still love the sport of it, I love the X Games, I love how they go crazy. I’m an adrenaline junkie.

XXL: You got a lot of things going on from your music to stage plays to movies and running a label. Where do you want all of these things to ultimately take you ? Where are you trying to ultimately go?

Jones: Ultimately, my goal is just to get out the hood, and by the hood I mean the industry, period. If I could get into acting and make some more money I would love to but I wanna just sit down and cool, but I’m hustling right now. I want my son to be able to not want for nothing, nah mean. That’s my ultimate goal. My ultimate goal is to move to Aruba and cool out. Put my feet in the sand all day. –Anthony Roberts

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