The Diplomats collective has been far from silent in the last couple months – be it making music or dealing with legal issues – and Jim Jones is the latest emcee of the group to unleash a full length LP, Capo, to the masses. With singles like “Perfect Day” already achieving FM radio success, the question remains as to whether the remainder of the E1 release can stack up to the hits that the public has already heard.
There are a few things that Diplomats fans can always expect from an affiliate’s album: club anthems, coke raps, Harlem shout outs, and an araabMUZIK beat. And in true Dipset fashion, Capo delivers all of those elements and rarely strays from their tried-and-true formula for creating commercial hits. Perhaps the most interesting part of Capo is that every track, from the intro to the closer, has an artist assisting Mr. Jones. There is not one instance of him carrying the entire weight of a track, even if it’s just a vocalist laying down a hook to put a smoother edge to his bars, which generally serve as an ode to the uptown gangster lifestyle. Although some of these features consist of people directly connected to the Diplomats (such as Washington D.C.’s Chink Santana or Sen City) Jim Jones also manages to bring more widely recognized names into the picture, including Raekwon, Cam’ron, and Wyclef Jean. While Ashanti has been silent lately, she provides a full verse and chorus on the Chris Liggio-produced “Change the Locks”. Her presence is logical (considering Chink Santana’s previous work with Irv Gotti) and offers a rare instance of an absence of Rap life braggadocio on Capo’s part, by exploring the end of a relationship.
Traversing time zones, Jones calls in Game for some bars on “Carton of Milk” as Jayceon rhymes, “I aim for the brain, you the Xzibit, this ain’t West Coast Customs but I’ll paint your Range, I stopped certifying gangstas ‘cause they ain’t the same.”
Some standouts include “Take a Bow” featuring a recently freed Prodigy, Lloyd Banks, and Sen City – a slower paced break from potential club bangers that has Prodigy turning his verse into something like an advice column, suggesting, “do you kid, get your money, get bigger, get huge man, don’t ever get comfortable, remain ruthless, relentless with your hustle, eat food and drink good and, spread the wealth, do what you can, for the have nots have a heart, show compassion, that little bit of love you put out comes back, keep that currency current flowing.” “Let Me Fly,” featuring Rell, paints a picture of a conflicted Jim Jones, torn between laying up in the bed with a fly shorty who doesn’t want him to go, or leaving in order to catch his flight to handle out of town business.
Capo is the album that details the hustler-turned-superstar lifestyle from its luxuries to its darker side. It maintains a musical energy intense enough to fuel a good party, yet throws in just enough of a dash of introspect to remind listeners that behind Jim Jones’ exotic cars, empty bottles left behind at VIP tables, penchant for the drug business, and platoon of fly females, the man still has a heart.