Jim Jones On Dipset, G-Unit, His Relationship With Cam’ron And More
Jim Jones has been hustling for a while now. The Dipset Capo came through the ranks from Harlem with Cam'ron more than a decade ago, and is still dropping new music, dropping a new EP, We Own The Night, Pt. 2: Memoirs Of A Hustler, earlier this week. Yesterday, Jones came through the XXL offices for a long, wide-ranging interview where he reflected on the golden era when The Diplomats were just popping, beefing with Nas and competition with G-Unit, his long relationship with Cam'ron throughout the years and the "scary" possibility of what would have happened if Dipset had never broken up. Now with a new reality show season coming up, a new soda and his lifestyle brands, Jones is evolving with an ever-changing industry. Here are some of Jimmy's best quotes from his interview with XXL Editor In Chief Vanessa Satten, above.
On evolving as he gets older (3:45):
"I stick to the blueprint. It's an evolving game, so you gotta change with it. If you don't change with it, nine times out of ten you're gonna get lost. I mean, I've been here 15-plus years, and I've seen everybody from the greatest to one-hit wonders come and go, since DATs was out. I don't even think half the kids know what a DAT is, you know what I mean? Since we were recording on reels and shit like that. And I'm still here to watch the game and look at it, observe it, and it feel good to know that I'm still here, can make some money in it, still relevant. The kids still fuck with me, they still think that my opinion is worth something. So that's a blessing. Especially in my line of work."
On The Diplomats responding to Nas' diss and dropped a record the next day (6:45):
"It's not the same like when we were coming up. The kids react much different, and the game is played much different. Hip-hop was built on very aggressive competition when we were coming up. So if somebody would take a jab at you and you didn't throw four punches back, you were considered a sucker and that might have excluded you out the whole game... When you playing for a team, it ain't no rules involved. Whoever comin' our way we gotta conquer, or it's gonna be a battle. Nas just put himself in a predicament to get his ass handed to him, 'cause he wasn't fuckin' with the regular bunch of motherfuckers. You know. I guess it took everybody by surprise, or maybe it didn't."
On rap nowadays (9:00):
"Everybody's a little bit friendly nowadays. As you can see, being friends kinda erupts and turns into bullshit. I've watched the game in the past few years and it seems like it was one big alliance, everybody is holding hands and shit like that, niggas doing music together. It didn't feel like it was really any competition, or niggas was scared to have to go up against competition. That shit ain't how hip-hop is... That sport of the game is gone. When people see backstage and they saw Jay Z and DMX rapping—that was some real shit that went on every day in hip-hop. You dig? I think the last of that was probably around the time when Cassidy and Freeway was battling, and Cassidy went crazy, you dig? That was the real last of us niggas really doing that."
On what would have happened if The Diplomats never broke up (12:30):
"I don't know; it's almost scary. I couldn't tell you, but I know thoughts of that are very scary. You dig? I think about it all the time. So many people in one group to have that amount of power, it's scary, you dig? I don't like to think about it too much, but I think of shit like The Beatles and shit like that, because our shit was way different. Even now, we still represent a big generation of people that understand what we represent, ya dig? It wasn't a facade; we came from nothing and we did everything in our power to become something, and whatever we had to face in the midst of that we did."
On the impact of "Ballin'" on his career (18:15):
"A lot changed when 'Ballin'' hit. That was a waking up to me, to everybody. It seems like the success balance in The Diplomats kind of shifted. I'm not saying I became more successful, but I became just as successful as both Cam and Juelz. And that was crazy in itself. Now you had three niggas on a Platinum level, and it just was bizarre. Shit, we were all bosses at that time."
On co-existing with G-Unit (19:55):
"It was definitely a level of respect, and it was definitely a level of, 'We don't really give a fuck who they are,' and there was definitely a level of, there's a heavy bit of competition with New York City... But when it came to G-Unit, it was like, 'What's up? We're all pretty much on the same level.' I mean, we all know 50 was one of the biggest artists to come out of rap in history. But on the level of the movement, our movement was just as strong as his; maybe not as commercial as his, but just as strong as his."
On current New York hip-hop (22:40):
"I look at shit like the Bobby Shmurda's, it gives me a good feeling of the shit we used to do. Them kids seem like they're young, raw, fresh off the corner and ready to give the game hell and make money and have fun. Any niggas that's in the street, that's really in the street, and they can do a dance, be careful. Them niggas is vicious you know what I mean? And I respect what they doing. They gave New York a real burst of energy, and you can feel it all over wherever you at. I don't care if it's white people, black people. They caught them a lick.
On the reaction to Ferguson (31:00):
"I didn't really mention nothin' on it. You understand what I'm saying? And not to be cold-hearted or nothing like that, but shit... And not to say it like that, but in my hood, I've seen personal friends get killed by police, my personal friends. Fact. You understand what I'm saying? So watching everything that went on it was like, that shit's not really helping. We getting attention, but when all that shit dies down and shit like that, we gonna get to what really is gonna go on, and nine times out of ten it's not gonna be what people like."
On his relationship with Cam'ron (40:18):
"I don't know. Me and Cam always been weird with each other, even at our closest moments... I couldn't call him a weirdo without calling myself a weirdo. The love we have for each other I know is unconditional, regardless of what goes on. It's funny like that. So I just take it for what it is. I love that nigga to death. We moved in a little bit of different directions, but we got something in life that will always be a bond that we can't take away, and that's the Diplomats, what we started."