Some 17 years into his career as a solo artist, Jim Jones' rap skills are better than ever. That's a point that rings through loud and clear on Wasted Talent, an 18-track LP that marks the rapper/entrepreneur's eighth solo release.

Stretching to 55 minutes, Capo's latest, which includes features from the likes of YFN Lucci, Eric Bellinger, Juelz Santana and Jadakiss, is an exhibition for the Harlem rapper's sharpened craft: "In my day, I was clapping at all the beef/Start beefing now, man, these rappers might call police/I grew up in a country that rather war than peace/In my hood was always war, so I wore the piece," Jim spits on the project's opener.

The title of Capo's new album is a reference to a quote from A Bronx Tale, a Robert De Niro-directed coming-of-age film set in a neighborhood dominated by the criminal element. The project begins with a quote from the film's main character, Calogero, a teenager who witnessed people waste their gifts after being swallowed by the criminal underworld. That's something that Jones, as a Harlem native, has seen first-hand.

"One of the slogans in the movie Bronx Tale is, 'The saddest thing in life is wasted talent,' which is true, and where we come up from it happens every day, and we see it all too often," Jones said during a recent stop at XXL's Manhattan office. "So I just want to reflect on that for a minute and give the kids something to look at and something to hear that has some substance."

Jones sat down with XXL to discuss Wasted Talent, the origins of Dipset's upcoming EP Diplomatic Immunity 3, Cardi B, Drake and more.

XXLWho are you talking about with your new album title? Would you say that the album is about people wasting their talent? 

Jim Jones: It's not really about seeing people wasting they talent. I'm saying that it's a lot of people that have wasted they talent, yes, because some people might not have the platform or the opportunity or the resources to go further with their talent. Others—because all that we see when we come outside is hustling, drug dealing, gun-shooting, robbery—that's all that we know. We don't got no great examples and things.  

And for others, [it's for] people that know how to turn that negative into a positive. I was saying earlier, Cam was supposed to go to the NBA, and he fucked them chances up being a knucklehead in school, ended up getting kicked out of school. He got kicked out of school, but he came back because now he's a legend in this hip-hop game, and you know what I mean, [he's an] actor, been in movies, like, yeah he had a talent that he wasted, but he bounced back pretty good.  

So, don't just look at the title as meaning the most negative thing. It's a positive and all that. Like, I got a friend, a very close friend of mine, his name is Tone, one of the people I used to look up to. He grew up in my projects and I watched him doing everything everybody else did, but he's a lawyer now, he passed the bar exam, so he did all that wrong to make his right.  

It's sort of like Tupac's poem, "The Rose That Grew From Concrete." 

That's exactly what my man Tone is.

How is Juelz doing after coming home from jail?  

Juelz is doing great. He's in good spirits, he's back home with his kids, with his family. He ready to do some music, he said he was writing a lot of music. So, you know, he got his good foot, he got a focused mind. Shit, he ready.

You hopped on a variation of Drake's "Diplomatic Immunity" for your Wasted Talent project. How's it feel to have Drizzy referencing Dipset albums all these years later?  

It's dope. Drake's a smart dude. They show a lot of respect when it comes to the Diplomats. I've been around them and his family [they] tell us how much of an influence we was to them coming up in Canada when they was grinding and starting out in music. Diplomats was a big thing for them out there so, shout out to Drake. 

In a commercial for Wasted Talent, you and Cam'ron play one-on-one basketball. How do you stack up to Killa on the court these days? 

Cam and Gerald Green are probably two people in my life that I haven't beaten in one-on-one, so, [they] got that.  

Only two people?

Yeah, I get busy. I scraped up a lotta people on that basketball court. A lot of one-on-ones—I'm from Harlem.  

This year will mark the 10th anniversary of "Pop Champagne."  

Really? That's crazy. 

What are your thoughts on the song now? It was one of your bigger singles at the time. 

It was a great club record. I still love to perform it.  

Do you have any memories from the recording session?  

That was like Chung King Studios... definitely a lot of champagne. I remember Dame was down there—there was a few people down there. Then Ron Browz came in and did all that. It was cool.  

Speaking of anniversaries, Diplomatic Immunity just turned 15 years old. What's your opinion on the lasting legacy of that album? What do you think you guys left the rap game with that project? 

I don't know about all that.  I mean, we was young, eager kids, hungry to get in the game, hungry to change our lives. We wanted to be as truthful as we could be with the people. Paint a picture of the places that we came up [in] and the things that we were doing at the time and the things that we went through. It was very raw, very edgy. There's nothing like being a rebel—kids look up to the rebels. They still look up to a good rebel.  

What's the progress on the new Dipset EP?  

Well you know, Juelz just came home, he just bailed out so we getting ready to resume recording again and finish up the project.  

How many songs you guys recorded?  

Well, we got about 20 songs recorded. We wanna put like seven songs on the project. Pick the best seven out of all the songs that we record.  

You guys are sticking to the EP format.  

It's not gonna be a full album. After that we're rolling into the full album.  

So there's gonna be a full album?  

It will be Diplomatic Immunity... DI-3 

How's it feel to be back in the studio with the crew? Any new techniques you've noticed from anyone in the camp? Listening to your new project, your rhymes are sharper than ever.  

[Laughs] Thank you. I get busy. It feels good to be back in the studio with my brothers. You know, music is like anything else: The more you do it the better you get at it. You gotta practice. We've been doing this for a long time so, it just feel good to be on the same musical level as my brothers that I grew up watching and helped and, you know, we all been together, but they always been a step ahead of me as far as lyrics and rhymes and flow. And I practice and I learned and I put my own edge to it. It's game time.  

When did you guys really come together and decide you were gonna make an EP and an album? 

After the Spotify concert it was kinda evident that we should really make a run for this and do some Diplomatic Immunity, give the people what they've been asking for.  

What was it about that moment that made you guys come to that decision? 

It just was all organic—that's how it all came about. Us performing, us being in the same circumference and feeling that good energy.  

So it's not one of those forced things.  

It definitely ain't forced.  

Punch, the president of Top Dawg Entertainment, recently compared Tupac Shakur to Cardi B in terms of charisma and authenticityHow do you feel about that comparison?  

I don't know. Did he actually know Tupac? 

Not sure.

Then I can't really validate that. If it was somebody that really knew Tupac could tell me that, "Yo she might be the next Tupac," then I would validate that, you know what I mean? But, it's gotta be personal thing. Tupac was a special person, you dig? I ain't taking nothing away from Cardi B but, we've seen a lot of personal success stories just like Cardi B's. She's not the only one that's been hella successful. She's a lady so, that puts that much light on it and shit like that. I tip my hat to her 'cause she's killing and she's doing her numbers and shit, but, everybody goes through that cycle when they hot, you dig? I guess everybody should be like Tupac at that time. There's a lot of people with a lot of charisma that get on top, and get the spotlight on them. So, you gotta hear everything that they have to say. When you hot, fans love everything you have to say anyway., so you know what I mean—it's a cycle. When Drake is hot, I guess Drake is the next Tupac too.

That's not a comparison that's come up yet, really. 

Shit. He's charismatic, he sells records—he sold a lotta records. He might have sold the most records next to Tupac if he hasn't surpassed him yet. But Tupac sold a shit ton of records [laughs]. Tupac is a different person. Charisma is one thing. Go into how much of a rebel he was, how much of a leader he was, how much of a impact he had. He had an army of kids around these United States that he didn't even know that was ready to shoot, kill and die for him and shit like that—literally. His cult following was unbelievable. I would go upstairs to listen to his music and go outside to do crime. Like literally, that's a different type of nigga. Everybody got they own opinions and shit like that, I got my own opinions. If somebody wanna compare me to somebody, I would hope that they known both people personally, and not just what they see on TV.

How do you feel about these mass shootings going on?

It's terrible. Guns is nothing to play with. It's always a serious issue, especially for us growing up in the hood. Gunshots became a soundtrack to my mornings and my evenings in my projects. That was a part of a everyday thing. To see it now, happening in the schools is sad as shit. I don't know who's in charge of the gun control and all that, but we need to figure out a few things when it comes to all these guns being on the street. Kids can get a gun like they can get a bag of weed. It ain't hard.

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