After being introduced in the '90s as the original "Mr. Me Too" on Cam'ron's [click to read] "Horse and Carriage," Jim Jones [click to watch] was eventually (some say self, some say by 50 Cent) promoted to leader of the Diplomats. Odd circumstances or not, Jimmy has handled the responsibility well enough and has kept the team going strong with Juelz Santana [click to read] at his side. Jones' albums up to this point have actually all been independent releases, but after "We Fly High" [click to read] turned into a surprise hit, Jimmy went to Columbia/Sony to release his latest, Pray IV Reign.
In short, there's nothing here that's got quite as much radio-appeal as "We Fly High"--except maybe "Pop Champagne," which apparently belongs to Jim now (not Ron Browz) --but the fans that jumped on for that hit will probably feel more comfortable with this album than the one it actually appeared on. Jones's subject matter was never exactly heavy lifting to begin with, but for Pray IV Reign, he has balanced a little more towards the party records than tough talk.
That doesn't mean the album is full of dancey tracks, but "How to Be a Boss" [click to listen] with Ludacris [click to listen] (stealing the show as usual) or "Precious" with Ryan Leslie [click to read] aren't as deliberately aggressive as some of Jones past work. "My My My" is on the darker side of stunt-rap, but it's still suitable to nod your head to. "Na Na Na Na" [click to listen] is probably a little too silly but that's not to say that someone won't like it and, without naming names, it's far from the dumbest thing you'll hear on Hot 97 this week.
On the other hand, Jimmy does still have the bad habit of sounding a bit like Jay-Z [click to read] now and then. Despite the historically... unpleasant relationship that the two have had, Jones still has no problem making a track like "Medicine," which sounds so much like "Jigga What, Jigga Who" that it can't possibly be an accident. It was a good track 10 years ago and it's still pretty decent now--plus it's a less objectionable bite than whatever that "Swagger Like Us" [click to listen] retread was going to be--but that doesn't add up to a free pass.
There aren't really any big surprises here, but honestly, did you really want any? With New York Hip Hop so underrepresented in the current market, there's a place for Jim Jones that really isn't being filled by much of anyone else right now and he's filling it as well as he needs to. Jones's cockiness still outpaces his performance to a degree, but anyone who stops by Pray IV Reign will get exactly what they paid for and you can't be mad at that.