On the latest episode of “Drink Champs,” N.O.R.E. connected with Jim Jones to talk about kickstarting Kid Cudi’s career, his back-and-forth with Pusha T, and working with Migos, among other topics.
Born Joseph Guillermo Jones II in The Bronx, he became a staple in New York hip hop during the early 2000s as an integral member of the iconic ensemble The Diplomats. Alongside Cam’ron, Juelz Santana, and Freekey Zekey, Jones was instrumental in crafting a distinctive sound for the group that married gritty street tales with infectious hooks. This sound defined the genre at the time and spawned hits like “Dipset Anthem.”
Jones’ solo career took off after dropping his 2004 debut album, On My Way to Church. “We Fly High” from Hustler’s P.O.M.E. (Product of My Environment) also became a cultural phenomenon. The track was RIAA-certified platinum and reached No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The Dipset legend also dropped many other chart-topping projects like Pray IV Reign as well as Capo Life.
Recently, Jones released a slew of full-length projects, including the star-studded El Capo. He also expanded his talents outside of rapping with REVOLT’s “Drip Report.” Currently, in its seventh season, the artist talks about everything from the weather to the latest in luxury fashion.
To give fans a recap, REVOLT compiled a list of nine facts we learned from Jim Jones’ “Drink Champs” episode. Keep scrolling to read them, and be sure to catch the full episode here.
1. On being one of the first artists to work with The Game
To kick the interview off, Jones reminisced about being one of the first artists to embrace The Game. After mistaking him for Eazy-E’s son, the Dipset artist flew Game out to New York before eventually collaborating with him on “Certified Gangstas.” The accompanying visuals for the record were shot in LA, and E’s actual son, Lil Eazy-E, made a cameo.
Jones explained, “Game had the big Eazy-E tattoo. There was no social media or none of that at this time. We’re thinking, ‘Oh, this is Eazy-E’s son.’ So I had someone find him… I actually had Game and his best friend, 4 Bent. I flew them from LA to New York.”
He continued, “I heard Dr. Dre was… oh yeah, he was heated. He tried to call the office and tell Koch Records to take that video down or something. He said something to the effect that he didn’t want the video up, very aggressively.”
2. On Kevin Gates refusing to sign to Cash Money until he met Jim Jones
Kevin Gates reportedly turned down a record deal with Cash Money Records in favor of one with Atlantic Records. According to Jones, the “2 Phones” rapper initially agreed to do business with Birdman under one condition: that he got to meet the New York native.
“Cash Money called like, ‘Birdman tryna sign this artist. His name is Kevin Gates. He just came home from jail. He’s the biggest thing going. Birdman is trying to sign him, but we got one problem: He’s not going to sign to Birdman unless he meets Jim Jones.’”
“Kevin Gates pulled up. He still had on khakis. Still looking like he was fresh out of jail. Got it in. I just felt his energy. You knew he was one of us… We sat in there and did like five records that night. And after that, Cash Money got to do business with him.”
3. On being responsible for Kid Cudi’s career
Kid Cudi’s “Day ‘N’ Nite” is one of the artist’s most popular songs to date and apparently, Jones’ remix played a role in helping him get radio play and a record deal. Unfortunately, when labels started reaching out to Cudi, they reportedly took Jones off the track and ran ads on the solo effort.
“What’s the dude that sings ‘Day ‘N’ Nite’? You know how he got his stardom? Dudes wanted to direct a video for me at the time. I was like, ‘S**t, let me see some of the videos y’all directed.’ The video they directed was ‘Day ‘N’ Nite’ with Kid Cudi, and he was on the roof looking crazy and s**t. I’m like, ‘I’ll let y’all do the video if y’all tell this kid [to] give me his beat, so I can remix this record,’” Jones recalled.
He explained, “Somebody ripped it off the internet from HOT 97, and they started playing it at HOT 97. That’s how Kid Cudi ended up getting his deal, and they cut me out of the deal because he was signed to one of them [DJs].”
4. On Michael Rubin’s all-white party
Earlier this year, Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin hosted an all-white party for July 4. Celebrities like Beyoncé, JAY-Z, Lil Baby, and many more popped out for the event. Although Jones wasn’t invited, he shared his opinion that a Black mogul such as Diddy has the power to host a similar event.
Jones stated, “No disrespect to Michael Rubin, and this is not about that. It’s about the power that we have that he’s tapping into ‘cause he knows we have that power. We need Diddy to come back out. The Black Party. It’s not even about a Black or white thing. It’s just that we have the power to do the same type of things.”
5. On threatening to “slap that kufi straight off” Nas’ head
Arguably one of Jim Jones’ most notorious moments, the rapper dissed Nas on a record sampling the latter’s “Hate Me Now” featuring Diddy. He rapped, “Dipset riders, n**ga. When we catch you, we gon’ slap that kufi straight off your mothaf**kin’ head.” The lyric referenced the backside cover of Nas’ God’s Son album, where he wore a skullcap that resembled a kufi.
“Kufi list is still around if people want to play with me. Shout out to Nas. I never got to sit down and have a conversation with Nas… I would love to have a conversation with Nas. I wouldn’t know if he knows it, but Nas was one of my all-time favorite rappers coming up,” Jones revealed.
6. On going to an independent record label
Elsewhere in the conversation, Jones spoke about leaving major labels behind and going independent after Roc-A-Fella didn’t want to give him $1 million.
“When I did P.O.M.E., I wanted to negotiate for a few million, but Alan [Grunblatt] didn’t want to give me what I wanted. But going independent was the only option. I learned about the independence from being in Houston,” Jones stated.
Elsewhere, he recounted, “I had asked Dame for $1 million. I felt I was worth it ‘cause I was directing videos, marketing. Not one record, but I wasn’t just going off of rap.”
7. On how “Love & Hip Hop” was created
VH1 reality series “Love & Hip Hop: New York” debuted its first season in 2011 with Emily Bustamante, Olivia Longott, and Jones’ girlfriend, Chrissy Lampkin. Spilling the tea on how it all came about, the “We Fly High” hitmaker stated that it was originally Lampkin’s idea and not a concept created by executive producer Mona Scott-Young.
According to Jones, “I made ‘Love & Hip Hop.’ That’s my show. At the time, it’s just life. I had the opportunity to take control of the show and be on the same level that Mona was, but a lot of things were going on where me and Chrissy wasn’t willing to compromise our dignity.”
Regarding Scott-Young, he added, “She had nothing to do with it. It was a dude, Jim Ackerman. He was the head of VH1. He been trying to do a show with me for a minute, and Chrissy wanted to do some reality show. It goes through… He was like, ‘S**t, let’s run it. What we gon’ call it?’ Chrissy and Emily came up with the name.”
8. On reportedly having the last recorded Migos track
“We Set The Trends” appeared on Jones’ project of the same name. The collaborative effort with Migos reportedly marked the final feature the trio completed before ultimately parting ways. The New York native took a brief moment of silence for Takeoff before explaining how the late artist spawned the collaboration.
“Yeah. RIP, Takeoff. I’ll miss your soul, baby boy. He was just a great person, I had a great relationship with him,” Jones stated. “It would make me feel good to know that someone like Takeoff was giving me my flowers.”
“We came to the studio in LA. He said, ‘Where you at? I’m pulling up.’ We in the studio, he’s like, ‘Nah, we gotta get on, Unc.’ [The] producer started playing beats. He’s like, ‘This it. This it.’ He did his hook, and he did his verse, and then I did a verse. Then I was like, ‘Nah, I gotta come back and fix my s**t tomorrow,’” the artist continued.
9. On his “beef” with Pusha T
During his interview with “The Breakfast Club” in April, Jones said that Pusha T isn’t in his top 50 greatest emcees of all time. Subsequently, the Virginian seemingly took shots at him during Pharrell Williams’ first-ever runway event with Louis Vuitton in Paris. Jones fired back with a “From The Block” freestyle, which hasn’t garnered a response thus far.
During “Quicktime With Slime,” N.O.R.E. asked Jones whether he would pick Push or No Malice. The rapper went with the first choice and, surprisingly, praised him despite their past tensions.
“To keep it a buck, I’ma go with Pusha T, so we not going to drink to them, but shout out to Pusha T. Shout out to Pusha T, very dope artist. Everybody knows he’s a monster when it comes to doing music. I can’t take nothing away from him,” Jim Jones explained. “I know everybody seen everything that was going on inside the media and the internet. I believe it was cool. For one time in my life, I got to engage in some verbal warfare, and it don’t have to go beyond that.”
“Who knows what he’ll come up with — he’s very crafty. Some people react off top. Some people take years to come back,” he shared.
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