If Jim Jones isn’t necessarily the most flamboyant member of the Dip Set, he’s definitely the one who most resembles Don Johnson.
“We did a Miami video with my dude Trey Songz,” said Jones of his single, “Summer With Miami (In Between the Streets)” and its ’80s-cop themed video. ” ‘Miami Vice’ was the old-school favorite, so we played the villains, then Crockett and Tubbs, and then we played ourselves. I was Crockett. You get to see me in a white linen suit — that’s probably the closest people will ever get to seeing me in a suit.”
Despite the video’s fun shtick, the song’s lyrics offer a window to Jones’ sensitive side. “You have females walk in and out your life — one minute they’re yours, the next minute they’re not,” Jones said of the song’s theme. “It was a subliminal message to somebody: I was telling them sometimes that chick is yours and sometimes she could be cheating on you. Fortunately, I got a lady at home, who I love and respect.”
“Summer” is the second single and video (following “Baby Girl”) from Jim’s sophomore album, Harlem: The Diary of a Summer, which is scheduled to drop on August 9 (see “Dip Set Poised To Conquer: New LPs From Cam’ron, Jim Jones, Juelz Santana On Tap” ). Both videos were directed by Andre Wilkins, and the album boasts appearances from Jim’s Dip Set comrades Cam’ron, Juelz Santana, Hell Rell and newbie Max B, as well as Songz, P. Diddy and Paul Wall.
One of the album’s gems is the Pete Rock-produced “Gees Up,” which features a rolling bass line peppered with a piano riff while Jim raps, “To stay above the poverty line, inspires my grind.” “Penitentiary Chances,” which includes a thundering bass and freaky strings, sounds like the theme from a scary movie and includes Hell Rell, who was recently released from prison. Diddy and Paul Wall are featured on “Drunk Hoe.”
Jim also discusses his deal with Koch Records on the album’s “What Is This,” although since recording Harlem, he’s become a director of A&R for the Warner Music Group. His goals are typically modest. “I’m trying to find the next Alicia Keys, Cam, the next Jay-Z, the next thing popping,” he smiled. “The next Nelly Furtado, the next Whitney Houston. However it goes, I need that.”
And music is just one of several business deals the uptown champ says he’s got on tap. In addition to the Dips’ cognac-based beverage, Sizzurp (which Jones says the team recently purchased a French distillery to produce), he says the group is expanding its business operations.
“We just finished doing a clothing and sneaker deal, but we ain’t gonna disclose no names,” Jim said. “But we have a sneaker corporation, like Nike or Reebok, where we’ll be able to sponsor musicians and athletes. The first line of sneakers is called Uptowns.”
All of this activity has raised Jones’ public profile — so much that he’s often surprised at the people who recognize him.
“The white kids are a little interesting — they be coming up, throwing up the Dip Set, but it’s good,” Jim said of his new fan base. “They go hard — like, I can’t go to the mall anymore. I have to have a hoodie on to go out. But that’s my job, so I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Jones will begin a month-long solo tour to prime the waters for Harlem on July 18.