traveling the country, pent up in the studio, strategizing the next corporate
hustle, or just out on the daily grind with his Dipset fam, Jim Jones knows
that his role in the world doesn’t stop at ‘artist’.
Capo of Harlem’s heavily hyped Diplomats crew never sleeps on opportunity,
and he’ll be the first to admit that even with all eyes on him, there
is definitely more to his game than industry sh*t. You can find him in the club,
you can find him in the streets, and at times you’ll find him in places
you might not expect, like the Hip Hop Political Convention in June, where he
spoke on a panel for ‘The Criminalization Of Hip Hop’.
The recent heated words between Jim, Dipset co-CEO Cam’Ron, and rapper-turned-reverend-turned-rapper
Mase on Hot 97’s morning show left a lot of questions in people’s
minds about the history behind the Harlem emcees’ rivalry. Regardless,
Jim maintained in some brief statements with reporters after the incident that
he doesn’t have any beef.
This interview with AllHipHop.com took place in mid-July as Jim was doing some
publicity for his upcoming album entitled On My Way To Church. While
his single and video for “Certafied Gangsta” are in heavy rotation,
Jim is already looking for the next task to take on – and it’s not
always about being in the limelight.
Do you feel like you and the rest of the crew are unfairly criticized?
Jim Jones: Oh yeah.
We’re like public enemy number one for New York City. It’s the people
that keep us afloat, to tell you the truth, and a couple of good relationships
that we have in this game. They know that we do make good music. If you make
the soundtrack for New York City, all the music we spit about is what New York
City embodies. It’s our own little version of it.
Do you ever get tired of people asking you about beef between Dipset members
and other emcees?
JJ: [pause] I’m
a true player of the game, understand? If I don’t want to hear it, you
won’t see me. If I didn’t want a question to be asked, I wouldn’t
be doing the interview. Who am I to get mad at a person for asking a question
when I’m here to do an interview? Smell me? I’m a so-called public
figure, so inquiring minds want to know. That’s some serious sh*t. Some
people say they [want] privacy, but there is no more privacy. Not when they
want to sell sex scenes of you on a DVD or all through the internet and sh*t
like that. Your privacy is blown – paparazzi is out of hand. I ain’t
trippin – if I don’t want to answer I just won’t answer, but
I’m never mad at nobody. Ima ask all the questions I need to know. The
only stupid question is the one not asked. I respect the next man’s views
– I hope they respect mine.
Do you feel like artists have perpetuated beef to get more fame?
JJ: Nowadays everybody
caught the Tupac syndrome. It was there before them, but Tupac is the person
that really started making real benefit – he stepped his whole game up
and started making money from the whole feuding thing. Some people after him
tried to use that as a way to get recognized, and for some people it do work
– I ain’t mad at em for making money, understand? For some people
sh*t just happens and happens to blow over like that. Sometimes people don’t
really want that recognition, but it just so happens that you’re in a
whole ‘nother position now of how people look at you - but you might not
be that person. You might be a cool person deep down inside - you just happen
to be in that corner with your back against the wall.
As much sh*t as people ever talk about Dipset, how many people have ever walked
up to you and said to your face that you suck?
JJ: Zero. You got
people that will be across the street like ‘F*ck y’all!’,
and when you look at them they be duckin’ and sh*t. But for the most part
I don’t think they really want that in they’re life too much. I
don’t take insult very easily. Most of the people that hate you, they
love you for something – that’s one of the reasons they hate you
so much. It burns them. They hate you and you’re doing something that
they would love to do. You love it, you’re just a little bit pissed off
with yourself that you ain’t in my position.
How do you feel about people saying that you aren’t doing anything to
bring up other artists out of Harlem?
people that say that all the time, but that’s their views – I can’t
get mad. The majority of people know that what I’m doing is a plus for
Harlem in the whole light. I’m not shy about it, I shout that out every
stitch of the way.
It was mentioned by someone at the Hip Hop Political Convention that basically
the rap nation is a lot like the Black Panthers in the sense that they could
have impact if they were able to operate. You’ve got this little group
of Hip Hop Cops out here trying to shut everybody down, trying to censor what’s
put out, and that type of thing. Do you feel like emcees could actually get
something like that going without the government interfering or trying to shut
JJ: I mean, there’s
legal ways to do everything. Everybody could try to become a senator, everybody
could become political. We got influence – we got companies and labels,
legitimate sh*t. We’re in the game – they can’t deny us. Everybody
doesn’t have a felony. All you could probably do is bring up some weed
charges, and Bill Clinton was smoking weed. They’re always going to get
involved in something we do, because they’re scared to hell of us. That’s
why you don’t see no young people in office like that – or if they’re
Black they’re very old. Detroit has the first mayor that really listens
to Hip Hop, but how long do you think he’ll be in office for? We got geniuses
out here that fly through school – they don’t want nobody young
in there. [Society] thinks our views are so f*cked up and twisted.
What messages would you give to young people that are going to be affected by
this economy, and getting more politically involved?
if we had some type of union the whole voting scheme would go a lot better I
think. As far as a the whole Hip Hop Summit, which I support due to my dude
Dr. Ben [Chavis] – I support him and I’ll be there for the kids.
I don’t really support too many other peoples’ views. We got the
ears to all the youth. In five years, if we do it right, we could really f*ck
the voting over – to the point where the president’s gotta come
speak to us directly. F*ck the Florida, there’s millions of muthaf*ckin
teenagers. F*ck bullsh*ttin us with all the school systems and all the sh*t
they promise, y’all gonna have to show and prove. At the same time, us
being young, we are the most rebellious generation ever, so I doubt they’d
want to see any of that go down.
Did you go to college?
JJ: I went to Catholic
school all my life from kindergarten. I tried to go to college for a half a
semester, cuz I promised my Grandmother, God bless her soul, but it didn’t
work out. My attention span was never good. I’ve been to school, but I’ve
read one book in my life – that was Pimp: The Story Of My Life. Besides
that, I finagled my way through… There was one teacher that told me ‘I’m
gonna tell you something, and I’m not gonna knock you for what you’re
doing, but every ounce of energy you puttin’ into cheating and getting
around this homework is gonna make you know this sh*t even more. When you graduate
you’re gonna know more than most of these [kids] here. You put more work
in there to cheat and try to get over than there would be to just actually do
the work.’ That sh*t blew my mind.
Do you have any certain opinion about kids pursuing college?
JJ: College is
a major thing – it puts you in a whole different realm if you do it right.
Then again you could have four different degrees and be working in a f*ckin’
McDonalds or something cuz you didn’t go about it right. School is not
good for everybody, but I do encourage people to get their diploma. At least
get that. Sometime college just f*cks people over, it’s just a waste of
time – it leaves you in debt and f*cked over. I advise everybody to at
least try it – if you’ve got the opportunity, try it. That’s
one of your ways out. Even if it’s four years you’ll experience
so much sh*t and meet so many people from different walks of life – even
if you go to an all Black college. It might not be for you, but just the opportunity
alone, to travel somewhere else – you never know what could happen. Don’t
be scared to take a chance.
Let’s talk about your album a bit. What do you feel the album in its entirety
is putting out about you as an artist? What’s the vibe of it?
like coming up in the hood with a guardian angel on your shoulder, every time.
I just came from so much sh*t, from the drug dealers, to the killers, to the
murders, to the b*tches, domestic violence, police, investigations, indictments
– it was like someone just grabbed me like ‘go this way, go that
way’ – my life is so crazy. Every step of the way someone is pointing
me in the right direction. No ways are straight, and it’ll take you through
a helluva path, but you know how you see that one tall building and someone
is pointing you closer and closer? Kind of like a navigation system. That’s
what it’s all about – showing you sh*t that I’ve been through
and I’m still here. I ain’t got no felonies or nothing. I’ve
been through so much sh*t, and I’m here, and I can do whatever I want.
Survival is serious where we come from.
It seems like the music makes you happy, like you feel free with music. I can
see it on your face when you talk about it.
JJ: Music fills
a void in my life. I do some sh*t and I come back to the hood to different parts
of Harlem and let some key [people] hear it – they don’t give a
f*ck, they’re gonna tell you ‘That sh*t is wack Jim, we ain’t
bumpin that sh*t out here’. When I get that call like ‘They’re
feeling you right now, you gotta keep doing it’, that sh*t makes me feel
good as hell. It ain’t like a fad or a phase that they’re going
through, like they really feel what Jim Jones is going through. It’s scary
too – it’s different having a fan than a follower. It’s good
though. I’m going hard.