Harlem: Diary of a Summer

Artist: Jim JonesTitle: Harlem: Diary of a SummerRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Bill "Low-Key" Heinzelman

Who would have thought Jim Jones would reach this level? Six years ago, Jim was merely Camron's running mate and an unknown figure in the Hip-Hop world. Now Jones is the Capo of the Diplomats and leading a street movement of his own. While nobody would have predicted it, besides himself, Jim Jones is slowly becoming a Hip-Hop superstar. This evolution is never more evident than on his sophomore release Harlem: Diary Of A Summer (Diplomats/Koch). The album highlights Jones' growth as an artist, as he steps up his game considerably since his humble beginnings on Diplomatic Immunity and On My Way To Church.

With more focus on his lyrics and improved song writing, One Eye Willy combines his usual Harlem tales with commercially acceptable songs on Harlem: Diary Of A Summer. Capo's maturation as an artist is evident on the lead single "Baby Girl," which finds him basking in producer Zukhan-Bey's acoustic guitar plucks. As the catchiest song of his short career, the track is the hit few ever thought Jones could produce. "Summer Wit' Miami" is another sure fire hit, as Jim rides over The Isley Brother's sampled track effortlessly. Newfound sensation Trey Songz also helps the cause with his sensual crooning on the hook. "Honey Dip" bridges the gap between the clubs and the streets perfectly, as Jones, Juelz Santana and JR Writer deliver noteworthy playa tales.

Even though Harlem: Diary Of A Summer succeeds in delivering singles for the mainstream, the album still stays true to the Dipset formula fans have grown to love. The Treblemakers produced "J.I.M.M.Y.," picks up where Juelz' "S.A.N.T.A.N.A." left off with its high-pitched chipmunk voice repeating throughout. Similarly, "Harlem" screams vintage Dipset with its catchy vocal sample and hard-hitting drums. Surprisingly enough, Pete Rock also lends a helping hand on "G's Up," as The Chocolate Boy Wonder provides a ravishing piano loop.

Besides the overused Fearless Four sample on "We Just Ballin" and the predictable "What You Been Drankin On," Harlem: A Diary Of A Summer ends up as one of the years biggest surprises. While Jones still has room for improvement in a multitude of areas, he is getting better every year, which is a good sign. And even though you may have your misconceptions about Jim Jones, Harlem: A Diary Of A Summer may very well change them.