It’s hot. Eighty-eight degrees at 6 p.m. hot. Jim Jones—independent recording artist, Dip Set capo and all-around renaissance thug—is Uptown. Harlem. A barely furnished apartment on 140th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard to be exact. On the wall are framed, poster-size photos of Jim and Cam’ron, his life partner (no homo) in Diplomat Records and beyond. In one corner, there are at least a dozen empty bottles of liquor—Remy Martin, Moët, Hennessy, Veuve Clicquot and, of course, Jim’s own purple potion, Sizzurp. On the bed is Jim’s cousin. Still slizzered from the night before, said cousin is sprawled out in nothing but his underwear (no homo). A tracking device is attached to his ankle.
Jim, who currently spends his days as an executive something or other for some of the men who are really running this rap shit, chooses to spend his evenings here for the time being. It’s the environment that birthed the slang he spits on his forthcoming sophomore album, A Diary of a Summer (Koch Records). It’s the place that created the multi-tentacled Diplomats crew that’s got the Internet going nuts (no homo). It’s the place that taught him the grind that got him the job that has everyone trying to figure out what Jim Jones got going on (no homo).
So now you’re an A&R at Warner Bros.? What’s your exact title? Explain it to me, ’cause I’m confused.
I’m like my dude Kevin Liles’ conscience up there. Shouts to him and Lyor. They gave me the opportunity, gave a nigga one of them executive positions up there. They was feeling my gangsta, my grind. From when we first got signed over there [at their former company, Def Jam], I had proved them wrong on so many directions. They knew what we was getting ready to do and they was respecting my shit and they was like, “Come over here. Give me that same ambition and grind.”
I gotta learn both sides of the fence. See, these are the people that gave everybody they millions of dollars for they record labels. They gave Murder Inc. they money. They gave Roc-A-Fella they money. They gave Ruff Ryders they money. These are the people that been handing out them checks for them past years. So fuck what you niggas been saying, “Yeah, I got my company. I’m a CEO, nigga.” I’m with them niggas that do that other shit. I need to find out if I can get in with that elite group. ’Cause you niggas is popping shit and these niggas clearing 20 million a year and they don’t rap worth a bit. And they allowed me to come get in the building with them. I’m at least on the same floor. There’s a couple of doors I can’t go in, but when them niggas go to the ice machine—guess what? They see me, they holla at me: “How you doing, young man?”
What’s your exact position?
On my contract it says “The Director of A&Rs for Warner Bros. Music Group.” That’s the corporate side of the whole shit. And that consist of Atlantic Records, Warner Records, all that type of shit. I work directly for Lyor Cohen and Kevin Liles and no one else. And I ain’t never work for no one in my life. But Scarface worked for Sosa. That’s how I take it.
I’m still me all the way. I don’t wear no suits and ties. My pants be sagging when I’m up in them offices, ya dig? It’s a new breed, a new time, a new generation. These niggas is at they last call for alcohol, and I’m at my first drink at the bar. So they wanna go out with a bang. That’s what I’m here for, man. I play my position.
What’s your deal like with Koch? Is it album by album?
That’s how I structure my deals, period. I don’t give a fuck who I do an album with, I’m only doing one album. So you ain’t gotta do a deal with me—I’ll do one album with Koch forever. These niggas is talking about it, but I’m really doing it. These niggas ain’t getting these corporate numbers that I’m getting… Out of $10, you probably get, like, $7 a record. You do 100,000 the first week, that’s $700,000 in your pocket. Then with your marketing expenses, it’ll probably go down to $5. But that’s still $500,000 profit. It’s way more beneficial than these majors.But the trade-off is, when you sign with the major, you get on TV. Now you can come with the Pepsi commercial.
That ain’t no fuckin’ trade-off. That shit don’t come with signing with no muthafuckin’ deal. Everybody ain’t got no sneaker deal. Everybody ain’t got no clothing deal. Only the niggas that’s popping off is the elite. All these niggas that’s popping got sneaker deals and all type of dumb shit going on—which is good, ’cause corporate America need to make some of this money. Pretty soon we gonna be doing Tropicana commercials and all that, ’cause we drink orange juice, too. Kellogg’s and all that. I’m about to go after all that. I need some of that money. We eat cereal, too, in the morning.
But Kellogg’s may not want you eating their shit, ’cause you might fuck up their brand.
You may think that. But then again, you gotta look at Mountain Dew, Sprite, Pepsi, Nike, Reebok. Look at the top contenders that’s doing it, and look at the people they got as they spokespersons. They need to be part of hip-hop, they don’t care who you are. If you that big of a person, they’ll fuck with you. Whether you a bad boy or a good boy, they love you.