‘I’m happy to have a second career:’ Jim Jones on his resurgence
Jim Jones and DJ Drama’s new project, We Set the Trends, pays homage to his own career while giving youth a chance to shine. Photo credit: @Calligrafist
We spoke with Jim Jones about making We set the trend, bridging the gap between rap generations, current business ventures and why he wants to do another one Verzuz with Jadakiss.
For many watching the rap spectrum in 2021, jim jones can be seen as living in a renaissance for OGs. The third chapter of his career is marked by growth and triumph – which Jones chooses to incorporate into his music and into this new chapter. Almost 16 years after the release of his and Dramatic DJs collaborative mixtape, The seven day theory, the two rap veterans have come together once again to celebrate an evolution in the continuity of Jim Jones’ legacy and lineage.
Jim and Drama’s new project, We set trends, pays homage to his own career while giving youth a chance to shine. Jim tapped the likes of Fabolous, Migos, Pop Chanel, Fivio Foreign and Dave East to help craft the sequel to the project that brought Max B and Stack Bundles to the fore. The sound may have changed, but Jim sure knows how to ride the waves.
We spoke with Jim Jones about the making of the album, bridging the gap between rap generations, current business ventures, and the stories behind some of his greatest hits.
What prompted you and DJ Drama to record together again?
Jim Jones: I told him I felt like I had enough steam to make a Gangsta Grillz project and it was like running it. So automatically we jumped in and started doing this project. I was actually trying to get it out for Halloween, but backed off a bit just to make it work.
What does a studio session with you look like when you go there to do a project?
The energy must always be good. I like having creative people around me, fun people. I like a bit of madness in my studio session. That kind of helps me, hearing people talk. Music is about the words and the energy and vibrations involved and things like that. I like having that with me.
You have chosen very specific features for this project. Of course you have Migos on the first single, Fivio Foreign, Pop Chanel and of course, Dave East. When you work on a project, how are these collaborations made?
Everything was pretty much organic. Like Takeoff who arrived at the studio. When I started the process it said “let’s take one in one”. Some people were already in the studio. Pressa came into the studio to hang out. Giggs before his visa expired. He was hanging out with us and stuff like that, so before he went back to London, we had to make the record. Me and [Fabolous] was in the gym and he was like, I come to this studio and he ended up making a record. So everything was pretty organic.
Sonically, what makes this project different from all your previous albums or mixtapes?
The energy is very young. I let everyone lead with their creativity until they choose the music and choose a tempo. Usually I start and take the lead, but I let everyone go their own way. So it’s fun. It’s young. The energy is rhythmic, a little different from what people know me for. But the marriage between me and a younger generation is very doping, and that’s what I’m looking forward to.
Speaking of consistency, I feel like we’re in the middle of a Jim Jones renaissance right now. Do you feel like sometimes you don’t get your credit as an MC or a lot of artists don’t pay it forward?
Oh, I never liked credit, anyway, I like cash. Give me a debt, you dig? [laughs]I don’t dwell on shit like that. I have to keep moving and keep getting that money.
If you could do a solo Verzuz with someone, against whom would it be?
[Jadakiss.] I want to smoke with Jada. On someone smokes one on one and he better put out some new records. Because I come to smoke shit.
Harlem: Diary of a Summer turns 17 this year. I just wanted to know if you could tell me the story behind one of my favorite songs from the album – “G’s Up”.
“G is up, hoes down. If that bitch can’t swim, she’s gonna drown. It was actually the first record that Max B made when he met me. It was the record that made me sign him for a deal. It was the first hook he made, and it’s kind of like a roll call. If you’ve been incarcerated before and they do what’s called roll call. That was one of the things that, along with “G’s up, hoes down. If that bitch can’t swim, she’s gonna drown. But how eloquently he put her in a hook, sort of, definitely caught my attention.
When you think of Diplomatic immunity and this time, what is a memory or a story that comes back to you that stands out?
Make the “We Built This City” record. You know, I started my career a little later than [Cam’ron] and them. It was like the real birth of Jim Jones, being able to participate in the Diplomat album; “We Built This City” was one of the records that I chose and started making myself, then [Juelz Santana] and everyone jumped on it. Great memory.
Regarding this new project you released with DJ Drama. What are your favorite songs from this project and why?
The whole project is pretty dope and it goes in so many different directions. Our favorite thing about this album is that there’s a lot of young music that’s soulful and relevant right now. From Drill music to Detroit music down south. It’s definitely an ode to what’s going on right now. Of course, I started the record with a hell of an intro that people know well. So, you know, I think I kind of put together a lot of different moves and wrapped up a good product. People will definitely, definitely blow this shit up.
What else can we expect from Jim Jones in the near future?
I have a shitload of records coming out, I have a fitness initiative about to happen; I own a gym in Jersey…there are so many things that interest me at the moment. I have a grocery store in Harlem, I got Crypto currency in capital currency. Saucy, my brand of marijuana, is available in California and Portland at about 300 dispensaries. We’re working on some East Coast stuff now in New Jersey and New York, so you’ll see a lot of Saucy starting to show up in our area. But I’m very excited to know where the music is right now. I’m glad to be here. I’m happy to have a second career.
Kia Turner is a freelance journalist and music historian from Newark, New Jersey. Managing her Deconstructing series of albums or talking about Pussy Rap, you can find Princess Hoodaville on @ChasingKia on all platforms.