Jim Jones Interview

Jim Jones
Artist:Jim Jones
Next Project:M.O.B. The Album (Out Now)
Twitter:Jim Jones on Twitter

When Jim Jones’ “Ballinnn!” chant took the hip-hop nation by storm, the Harlem native was more than ready for the mainstream spotlight that would be directly cast upon him.  Rapping since he was a teenager, Jones grinded hard and waited patiently for just the right opportunity to come.  Thanks to persistence and a catchy single, it came. 

Due to the overwhelming success of his third solo album, “Hustler’s P.O.M.E.,” the current leader of the Diplomats not only was able to get inked to a lucrative record deal at Sony/Columbia, but he also hooked up his Byrdgang crew with a deal at Asylum.  Last week, the five-man ensemble released their debut, “M.O.B.: The Album,” and later this year Jones will unleash his much-anticipated (and currently-untitled) major label debut.

In an exclusive interview with DJBooth’s DJZ,” Jim steps inside the booth to talk about the future of hip-hop, why people misconceive his accomplishments at Koch as overnight success, what it feels like to be the boss, and who was responsible for breaking his heart in 1992.

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Jim Jones Interview Transcription

DJ Booth:  What’s goin’ on, everybody?  It’s your boy “Z,” doin’ it real big, and joining me inside the DJ Booth is the leader of the Byrd Gang.  Please welcome Jim Jones.

Jim Jones:  Hey, how you doin’, dude, how you feelin’?

DJ Booth:  I’m feelin’ pretty good – how you doin’?

Jim Jones:  I can’t complain.  I’m workin’, I’m still movin’.

DJ Booth:  You can’t complain at all, you know why?  ‘Cause you have a brand new album with your crew out in stores right now.

Jim Jones:  Yeah.

DJ Booth:  Let’s talk about the project right off the top.  What does it mean for this to be done and out in the public’s hands?

Jim Jones:  You know, it’s always a dream to be able to put an album in stores, and it makes me feel even better that I can work with this group of young men, and be able to help them make the transition from bein’ in the gutter to bein’ able to change their lives to make a lot of money, and make it legally.

DJ Booth:  Certainly.  What is more challenging for you as an artist – working with a collaborative group of artists on a project like M.O.B. The Album, or compiling tracks yourself for a solo project?

Jim Jones:  Compiling tracks myself for a solo project seems to be a little bit more complex for me, as opposed to working with [all these] talented young men, because when you have so many people thinking on one accord, it just comes out to be very easy, you know what I mean?  Ninety percent of this album was all of them; they just left slots for me to jump on the tracks and things like that.  [I brought a few things] to the table; for the most part it was all the ideas and all the music and the artistry that they put into this.

DJ Booth:  Jim, one of the songs on the new album is entitled Heart Beat.  Who or what do you think will be responsible for making sure that hip hop’s collective heartbeat continues to beat as we move into the future?

Jim Jones:  I think we’re all responsible, for the most part, just this hip hop drama as a way of life.  And it’s [not just] about the music, it’s about everything that contributes to the music and everything that contributes to the lifestyle, so you can make money in every direction from [hip hop].  Doctors listen to hip hop, firemen, policemen, pharmacists – everybody listens to hip hop, and we just gotta keep the music alive.  The music complements the lifestyle; without the music, we can’t be hip hop anymore.

DJ Booth:  Jim, your career personally has thrived in a time when a lot of artists who have been around for quite some time have seen a lull in sales and their popularity.  What do you think has been the key for you, to make sure that when people say, “Well, hip hop’s on cardiac arrest,” it couldn’t be further from the truth for Jim Jones?

Jim Jones:  I think it’s the sincerity.  People know they’re going to get everything they see when they see me.  Everybody loves a rebel when it comes to this hip hop music, ‘cause that’s what’s it all about, is bein’ rebellious, and havin’ freedom of speech, and sayin’ what’s on your mind, as opposed to curbing your thoughts and things like that.  And when they hear me speak or when they see me in places, they know they’re gonna get everything they deserve, and they’re gonna get the truth, and I’m not gonna BS them, I’m just gonna give it to them like it is.  Life is short, so we don’t wanna be caught up with people lyin’ to us and throwin’ the blanket over our eyes, and think that we live in a facade when we live in real life, and that’s everything that I depict, and everything I personify.

DJ Booth:  Exactly.  A lot of artists I’ve spoken with over the past six months or so, who are doing the independent grind, as opposed to having to wait through a major label situation, have all cited your success with Koch as the reason they feel that they can succeed in a non-major situation.  Do you feel like you’ve paved the way for so many artists to go about their business in a non-major-label fashion?

Jim Jones:  From the looks of it, it [seems] exactly like that, like I’ve paved the way from an independent standpoint.  But what people don’t see is, when I did my solo career with Koch, I already had a movement started, we already had a foundation, we already had fans, we’d already sold millions and millions of records, so for me to do a record comin’ out of anywhere it would’ve [been] a good thing, ‘cause we already had it movin’ as far as The Diplomats were concerned.  Now, as far as my work that I put [in] over at the independent, and movin’ with Koch, yes, that was phenomenal; that’s a thing that doesn’t happen too often, and that gave other artists hopes of anticipating the same success that I had in taking the independent route, and things like that.  I don’t want to discourage nobody, but this is a very hard lane to be in, so if you jump in, you gotta jump in and take nothing but sacrifices, and you gotta work over-hard – screw overtime; it’s triple overtime with this, if this is what you want.  But, for the most part, it worked, and if one person can do it, another person can do it.  One person’s success is always topped by somebody else, so that goes to show that if I did it, they can do it, know what I mean?

DJ Booth:  Jim, what do you think is the most common misconception amongst artists who saw what you were able to do?

Jim Jones:  You know, people look at these things and think that it happened overnight for me, and nobody wants to look back to ‘96 and ‘97, to when I started in this game.  I’ve been in this game literally from when I was a teenager, and people fail to realize that it’s not just the music, it’s the relationships I made, it’s the rapport I built, it’s the people that I know around the country that helped me afloat when I started to do music, ‘cause I had that support system already.  And there are people that jump in the game and get that great success, there’s been a few of them that [broke] overnight, and then you come to find out, their story’s not even overnight, it just so happened that when they got a chance to get in the industry, it happened fast, but before that, they’d been tryin’ to get in the industry for years.  So don’t think nothing’s gonna happen for you overnight – it’s gonna be sacrifice, sacrifice and hard work.  As corny as it may seem, that dedication is everything you need, man.  And for the most part, if this is something that you want, you can will it, if you know you make good music.  If you don’t make good music, and you wanna be part of this industry, that’s something different; there’s always a way for you to make money, a lot of money in this industry, without embarrassing yourself tryin’ to be an artist.

DJ Booth:  I couldn’t agree more.  Jim, with the track record that you have, and the résumé that you’ve built up to this point, how does it really feel now to be a boss, to control your own situation and really call the shots?

Jim Jones:  It always feels good when you accomplish things and you execute, but to some point there’s a degree of difficulty when you’re trying to operate as the boss, or the person that’s the spokesperson for your business and things like that.  There’s a lot of pressure on you.  And there’s not too much that you get commended for; you usually get blamed for everything, as opposed to people giving you accolades for the good things you do.  But that’s what it is, when you’re bein’ a boss: you put your business and you put your family before you, just like bein’ the head of a household; as long as your family is good.  So for me, as long as the business is good and things are movin’, they could blame me for everything.

DJ Booth:  You mentioned pressure a second ago.  A lot of times when pressure is in someone’s face, they either fold under the pressure, or excel beyond it.  At times, have you seen a little bit of both?

Jim Jones:  We don’t fold, baby.  No retreat, no surrender – we are 300.  We mean that.  You gotta kill me before I fold.  I always rise above and beyond the pressure, it’s just a natural gift that I have.  I’ve been blessed with that.

DJ Booth:  Maybe that will rub off on some of your New York Knicks; that should probably help them.

Jim Jones:  Well, the Knicks have disappointed me since John Starks went two for eighteen against Jordan, when we had a chance to win it, back when I was in high school.  This was probably about ‘92, so I did [get my feelings hurt].

DJ Booth:  Boy, this would be a bad time, then, to let you know that I’m a homegrown Chicagoan.  So you probably hate me right now – I’m so sorry.

Jim Jones:  [laughter] Yeah, you know… it was heartbreaking, but John Stark dunking on Michael Jordan was good enough gratification for a memory for me.

DJ Booth:  [laughter] Definitely a favorite YouTube clip of, I’m sure, many.  Let’s talk about the status of what really was at the time, and still is, a landmark deal that you signed with Columbia and Koch.  A lot of people heard a lot about it, but since that you focused on the Byrd Gang [project], so they don’t know what’s goin’ on with your solo alubm.  Why don’t you tell everybody a little bit more?

Jim Jones:  Through the success of my ventures on independents, through Koch and things like that, I’ve been able to milk a deal with Sony/Columbia, which was a major venture, a fifty-fifty venture, which they haven’t gave out in probably the past ten years, so it is a landmark deal.  And this makes me a partner and enables me to make [a profit], and get fifty percent of all the profit that goes down after I recoup the money I spent.  For me to have a deal like that goes to show that there’s still a lot of things goin’ on in this game that people can capitalize off of.  Last time someone had a deal like that probably was the Ruff Ryders.  You know, Cash Money‘s still movin’, Roc-A-Fella, and things like that.  So I’m amongst an elite with this deal, and I’m tryin’ to cash in.  You gotta look at Weezy, man – he sold a million plus, and they got a P and D deal, so they makin’ crazy bread.

DJ Booth:  Okay, so the deal’s set, you’re gonna do well off of it, but let’s get some details here – when is the project coming, and what is the title of the next album?

Jim Jones:  I don’t have a title for my album yet, but it’s definitely coming out in fourth quarter.  I’m coming to get all that money, but before that you’ll get to see a Byrd Gang movie, a live documentary about my life and everything it entails, they’re shootin’ a full movie about my album that comes out in the fourth quarter.  We got a book goin’ on, I’m about to shoot this [series], so I’m pitchin’ with nothing but events all the way until the album comes out, so you’re gonna be feelin’ like you know be the time I drop this album.  It should be a real good event.

DJ Booth:  So you’re saying that Jim Jones is not gonna escape the headlines from now through the end of the year.

Jim Jones:  No, I promise you I won’t.

DJ Booth:  Jim, I heard the new single, The Good Sh*t.  I love it.  I wanna talk about some good sh*t for you, personally, outside of music.  What’s the good sh*t in your life?

Jim Jones:  The good sh*t in my life is to be able to wake up and not have to worry about my bills, and not have to worry about wants, and to see my son grow up and not have to worry about wantin’ anything, and I can help him live a live that I wished I could live when I was younger.  It’s a little bit like Richie Rich; we all love silver spoons.  You know, I’m tryin’ to let my son get a little bit of the good life, and things like that, so pretty much that’s the good sh*t for me, know what I mean?

DJ Booth:  Definitely.  Because it probably took longer than you would have hoped for all of this success to come, is there anything that you’d go back and change, or, are you content?

Jim Jones:  No, no, I wouldn’t change nothing from when I was in the hood.  We always found fun, and we always found a way to laugh, no matter what the crisis was, no matter what we was up against.  And that was the same thing I felt like in this industry, for the duration of my career: I had a ball; there wasn’t one day that I was worried about anything.  I just knew I had to work and stay relevant in this game, and the game pays for the rest once you’re relevant.

DJ Booth:  Jim, twenty years from now, how do you want to be remembered, if you’re done, at that point, rapping?

Jim Jones:  I’ll be done… just one of the most sincere people you’ll get to meet, that’ll crack your head if you get out of line. [laughter]

DJ Booth:  [laughter] Keepin’ it all the way real.  Jim, go ahead, give everybody a MySpace page or a website, so they can find out more, of course, about the album, in stores right now.

Jim Jones:  What’s my MySpace… you can go to blocksavvy.com and you can type up “Jim Jones,” you can go to myspace.com/jimjones, and you can also go to jimjones.com, Columbia just started a new [site] on me, so we got a couple of things out there that you can go onto.

DJ Booth:  So you know you’re all over the Internet, you just don’t know specifically where you’re at.

Jim Jones:  I’m all over the Internet, and I never know where I’m at, but people tell me every day, “Man, you got a lot of sh*t goin’ on on that Internet.”

DJ Booth:  Just tell people to Google your name.

Jim Jones:  Yeah, Google “Jim Jones,” you’ll get a bunch of sh*t, I promise you.

DJ Booth:  Jim, I thank you for takin’ the time to join me inside the DJ Booth.  Nothing but the best of luck, my man.

Jim Jones:  Thank you, I appreciate you.  Till the next time.

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