A Dipset Xmas

Artist: Jim JonesTitle: A Dipset XmasRating: 2 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Bill Zimmerman

At first it appears that A Dipset Xmas may be a fun ride. The cover features a Santa hat draped over the Diplomats' logo, the disc is emblazoned with a Christmas tree capped with the same emblem, and best of all, the liner notes contain a photo of Jim Jones backed by a snowy landscape and the message "I wanted to make a Christmas album for kids in the 'hood and shit like that. – Capo."

The album starts with promise on "Dipset Xmas Time," as Jones, Mel Matrix and Stack Bundles deliver holiday raps celebrating the fast-life that spark memories of the few quality cuts on Christmas on Death Row back in the day. The catchy hook is to the tune of Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmas Time," "The music's tight, my pocket's stuffed/We're here tonight, and that's what's up.”

Other yuletide standouts are "If Everyday Was Xmas" with Capo, Matrix, Bundles and former Roc-A-Fella crooner Rell and "Ballin' On Xmas." (The Dipset sure hates to write out Christmas.) On the latter, Jones, Bundles and J.R. Writer rhyme over the beat from Run-DMC's "Christmas in Hollis."

But don't expect to feel a rush of holiday goodwill after A Dipset Xmas, and despite Jones' statement, this isn't something for the kids. The album's Christmas tunes can be separated into either boasts about material wealth and female conquests on the holidays or laments about turning to the illegal life to keep presents under the tree. Only five of the tracks are Christmas songs, and Cam'Ron and Juelz Santana are nowhere to be found at this holiday celebration. The remaining selections are nothing special, including the "We Fly High (Remix)," when Jones joins TI and a rap-purist’s worst nightmare guest list of Diddy, Jermaine Dupri, Baby and Young Dro. The original is much better, although Jones' "ballerholic" phrase on the remix may soon become part of the hip-hop vernacular.

Jones deserves credit for doing something different, but a shortage of quality tracks makes this a Christmas party to skip.