By now everyone has followed suit and yelled “Ballin!” when Jim Jones’ infectious single “We Fly High” came on in the club. Ironically, the song was released during the summer and went over the heads of many, but picked up steam during the fall, resulting in the sale of more than 100,000 copies of his third opus, “Hustlers P.O.M.E. (Product Of My Environment),” during its first week, which is very impressive for an independent release.
His debut, “On My Way To Chuuch,” featured the single “Certified Gangstas,” and last summer’s “Harlem: Diary of A Summer” showed the rapper’s lyrical growth and his ability to appeal to a mass audience. The street single “G’s Up” and underground “love for the ladies” track “Honey Dip” were a perfect complement to the Trey Songz-featured “Summer with Miami.” Can his third album live up to his fans’ expectations?The LP’s intro sets the tone with Max B. crooning on the hook “Take a walk, let’s ride/And you don’t even need a seatbelt homie/’cause where I’m ’bout to take you, you don’t need one homie.”
“So Harlem” is just that, a dedication to the hustling lifestyle of the black youth in uptown Manhattan. The rock & roll sample on “Bright Lights, Big City” gives that head-nodding thump you can appreciate with the right sound system in your vehicle. “Emotionless,” with a sonic landscape similar to that of Young Jeezy’s “I’m Back,” finds Jones reflecting on his past while maintaining that gangsta quality with lines like, “You’re lookin at a (expletive)’s worst nightmare/young, black rich with a fresh pair of Nike Airs.” Juelz Santana rides shotgun on the second verse before Jim finishes off the last verse with an interpolation of Nas’ famous line from “The Message,” “A thug changes/and love changes/and since 9/11, the price of the drugs changes.”The album is full of certified club bangers like “Pin The Tail” featuring Cam’ron, Juelz Santana and Max B. on the hook once again. “Don’t Push Me Away” is a track strictly for the ladies, asking for his woman’s loyalty and compassion for his actions. Jones croons “Let’s go half on a baby/ if not, then let’s go half on the (Mer)Cedes.”
“Don’t Forget About Me” officially establishes Max B. as Dipset’s undisputed “hook king,” while “Concrete Jungle” establishes the lyrical dexterity that was shown by his scene-stealing performance in the aforementioned “G’s Up.” The track also features Dr. Benjamin Muhammad speaking candidly before and after the rapper’s verses. Muhammad, also seen in previous Dipset videos, is perhaps best known for his role as “The Minister” in urban cult favorite “Belly.”
Besides a few filler cuts and a couple uninspired skits, this is a very good album. Trimming the fat probably wouldn’t have made much of a difference, as Dipset member Freeky Zeeky’s skit is not only expected, but welcomed, as he recently was paroled after a three-year stint in prison.
The Diplomats’ influence in the street was definitely increased with this album, as it bumps in the trunk of the most diehard lyricist fan, as well as those who are beatsmiths.
The only question is, with Jones’ charismatic personality and Santana’s rising star, will frontman Cam’ron be outshadowed in the midst of their recent successes? Even Jay-Z, who wouldn’t even entertain Cam’s lyrical jabs, has found it more intriguing to go at Jones on “Brooklyn High.” Only time will tell.