We talked with Jim Jones about the making of We Set the Trend, bridging the gap between rap generations, current business ventures, and why he wants to do another Verzuz with Jadakiss.
For many looking at the rap spectrum in 2021, Jim Jones can be seen as living in a renaissance for OGs. The third chapter in his career is marred by growth and triumph — all of which Jones chooses to incorporate in his music and in this newest chapter. Nearly 16 years after the release of his and DJ Drama’s collaborative mixtape, The Seven Day Theory, the two rap veterans have joined again to celebrate an evolution in the continuation of Jim Jones’ legacy and lineage.
Jim and Drama’s new project, We Set the Trends, pays homage to his own career while giving the youth a chance to shine. Jim called on acts such as Fabolous, Migos, Pop Chanel, Fivio Foreign, and Dave East to help create the follow up to the project that brought Max B and Stack Bundles to the forefront. The sound may have changed, but Jim knows how to ride the waves.
We talked with Jim Jones about the making of the album, bridging the gap between rap generations, current business ventures, and the stories behind some of his biggest hits.
What inspired you and DJ Drama to record together again?
Jim Jones: I told him I felt like I had enough steam to do a Gangsta Grillz project and he was like run it. So automatically we got into it and started making this project. I was actually trying to put it out for Halloween but I pulled back a bit just to get everything right.
What’s a studio session like with you when you’re going in to make a project?
The energy always gotta be right. I like to have people around me that’s creative, people that’s fun. I like a little bit of madness in my studio session. That kind of helps me out, hearing people talk. Music is about words, energy and the vibes involved and things like that. I like to have that with me.
You chose very specific features for this project. Of course, you have Migos on the lead single, Fivio Foreign, Pop Chanel and of course, Dave East. When you’re working on a project, how do these collaborations come about?
Everything was pretty much organic. Like Takeoff happened to come to the studio. When I started the process, he was like “let’s get one in unc.” Certain people happened to be in the studio already. Pressa came into the studio to hang out. Giggs before his visa was up. He was hanging out with us and shit like that, so before he went back to London, we got to do the record. Me and [Fabolous] was in the gym and he was like, I’m coming to this studio and he ended up doing a record. So everything was pretty organic.
Sonically, what makes this project different from any of your previous albums or mixtapes?
The energy is all young. I let everybody lead with their creativity as far as picking the music and picking a tempo. Usually I lead off and take the direction, but I let everybody get into their bag. So it’s fun. It’s young. The energy is up-tempo, a little bit different from what people know me for. But the marriage between me and a younger generation is very dope, and that’s what I’m looking forward to.
Speaking of consistency, I kind of feel like we’re in the middle of a Jim Jones renaissance right now. Do you feel like sometimes you don’t get your credit as an MC or that a lot of artists don’t pay it forward?
Oh, I never like credit, anyway, I like cash. Give me some debt, ya dig? [laughs]I don’t dwell on shit like that. I got to keep moving and keep getting to this money.
If you could do a solo Verzuz with anyone, who would it be against?
[Jadakiss.] I want smoke with Jada. On some one on one smoke and he better put some new records out. Cause I’m coming to smoke shit up.
Harlem: Diary of a Summer turns 17 this year. I just wanted to know if you could tell me the story behind one of my favorite songs off the album — “G’s Up.“
“G’s up, hoes down. If that bitch can’t swim, she gonna drown.” That was actually the first record Max B did when he met me. That was the record that compelled me to sign him to a deal. That was the first hook he did, and it’s sort of like a roll call. If you ever been incarcerated and they do this thing called roll call. These were one of the things that with “G’s up, hoes down. If that bitch can’t swim, she gon’ drown.” But how he eloquently put it inside a hook, kind of, definitely grabbed my attention.
When you think of Diplomatic Immunity and that era, what’s a memory or a story that comes back to you that stands out?
Doing the record “We Built This City.” You know, I started my career a little bit later than [Cam’ron] and them. This was like the real birth of Jim Jones, being able to participate in the Diplomat album; “We Built This City” was one of the records I picked and started to do myself and then [Juelz Santana] and everybody hopped on. Very good memory.
As far as this new project that you have coming out with DJ Drama. What are your favorite songs off this project and why?
The whole project is pretty dope and it goes in so many different directions. Our favorite thing on this album is that it’s a lot of the young music that’s moving and relevant right now. From the Drill music to Detroit sounding music to the South. This is definitely an ode to what’s going on right now. Of course, I set the record off with a hell of an intro that people will be very familiar with. So, you know, I think I kind of put a lot of different moves and wrapped up a good product. People will definitely, definitely definitely go bang this shit.
What else can we expect from Jim Jones in the near future?
I got a shitload of records coming out, I have a fitness initiative about to happen; I own a gym in Jersey… there’s just so many things I’m into right now. Got a grocery store in Harlem, got the Crypto currency to capital coin. Saucy, my marijuana brand, is available in California and Portland in about 300 dispensaries. We’re working on some stuff in the East Coast now in New Jersey and New York so you’ll see a lot of Saucy starting to pop up in our area. But I’m very excited about where the music is at right now. I’m happy to be here. I’m happy to have a second career.
Kia Turner is a freelance journalist and music historian from Newark, New Jersey. Managing her album-based series Deconstructing or talking about Pussy Rap, you can find the Hoodaville princess at @ChasingKia on all platforms.