Jim Jones Biography
Though some of us may be hearing his name for the first time, Jim Jones is no Johnny-come-lately. He’s been on the block since 1997, making noise and music, riding shotgun with his longtime friend Cam’ron. “I’ve been with him in the game since his horse and carriage days,” he professes. “I’ve been on every album he did. I just stayed patient until it was my time to blow up.”
And now it looks like that time has come. Jim Jones is no longer riding shotgun, no longer a back seat driver. This time Jones is behind the wheel, putting the petal to the metal, riding fast and furious to the top.
And where is he going? “On My Way to Church,” he says. That’s the clever, conversation-inspiring title of his debut cd. “My family is a very religious family,” Jones explains. “I came up very church-oriented. My grandmother used to send me to Sunday school after I was able to go out on my own. I would end up on 42nd street playing video games or on the block hustling trying to make some money. So it’s like I left the house and I haven’t gotten to church yet. I’m still trying to find my way there.”
But, as in years past, Jones is still making pit-stops along the way and he takes listeners along for the ride. From track to track, Jones allows us to roll with him as he spits rhymes, tells stories and teaches a refresher course in what true hip hop is all about.
The first single from The Diplomats Present Jim Jones: On My Way to Church is “Certified Gangstas.” “This is an old Eazy E joint,” he says. “My dude Bangin’ Beats made the beats and I ran with it. We put a little east coast twist on a west coast song and people are loving it.” Jones said the song was so ‘hard’ it was originally intended to be strictly for the streets. “It was supposed to be only for the mix tapes and for the ‘hood but a buddy from the radio station just happened to be there when I did it and she said ‘I got to play this on the radio’.”
Jones’ favorite track from the cd is “Around My Way,” which he says “explains who I am, where I’ve been, what I’ve done and the things that I’ve been through.”
Another highlight is “Spanish Fly,” a song about “a true situation that went on in my life. It was about a female and shit like that. It breaks it down.”
“Only One Way Up” shows off yet another side of Jim Jones. “I did that one when I was on the beach in Miami. I was coolin’ and it was so relaxing, refreshing and chillin’! That was the first time I wrote some music outside of my environment.”
With guest shots by T.I., Lil Flip, Chico DeBarge, Bizzy Bone and of course, Cam’ron and their clique the Diplomats, On My Way to Churh is loaded with star power. “All of these are people I have personal relationships with so it was very easy to get them to be on the cd,” he says.
Jones says the songs on the set are a true reflection of his life, creating a musical backdrop to all that he has experienced. “My music reflects everything that I’ve been through. I often say I’ve written the soundtrack to my ‘hood because I came up so hard and that’s all I talk about.” Jones says his music speaks to people who need all the hope and inspiration they can get. “There are a lotta people who, it’s sad to say, ain’t got too much to look forward to so we do what we gotta do to survive and to get some money to pay our rent. I don’t glamorize that at any rate but it’s a harsh reality.”
It’s reality that he knows only too well. Growing up in the Bronx, Jones watched his mom hustle and grind to make a living. “My mom was a very unique individual. For like that whole era when crack first started hitting the air back in ‘81-82 my moms was one of the first ladies to move that. She got rich doing it; that was what she was into, that whole lavish life. I thought I was living. I ain’t realize that that shit was crazy until now but it was her just being young and I ended up living the same life so it was like a double edged sword.”
Living the life he lived, there were no rules so Jones made up his own. “As time went on I started to get a little bit looser because there really wasn’t any guidance. They shipped me to Harlem to stay with my grandmother in the projects.”
Jones found his share of trouble in Harlem but nothing serious enough to land him in jail. “I pretty much avoided a lot of shit. For some reason it seemed that I always escaped some hella fly shit and I thank God for that to this day.”
But even as he found himself in the throes of street life, he also found himself deeply in love with rap music, finding inspiration from a vast array of hip hop artists. The list reads like a who’s who of rappers: Snoop, Biggie Smalls, Kool G Rap, Nas, Jay Z, Slick Rick, Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, NWA, Eazy E, Master P, Bone, Thug- N-Harmony, and 2Pac.
Watching these great artists make their mark was all the inspiration Jones needed to become a rapper – that and the fact that he knew that, like all of them, he had that special something that would guarantee his success. “My mom always said I had the eye of the tiger. There’s just something about me, she said. I attract people to me. I really don’t know. It’s something in my soul, I just give out this aura.” What attracts people to Jones is not only his music and his talent but his loyalty and commitment to the people he cares about and his willingness to ride for his friends and family under any circumstances. “There’s nothing I won’t do for my niggas and for my family. I even go broke in certain situations but it’s worth it. I am not a shallow person like that. The game is not everything to me.”
But honesty is everything to him. That’s why he always speaks his mind, says exactly what’s on his heart. “What I need to say I’m going to say. I’m a voice of resistance because I came out of one of the most rebellious generations ever. That’s exactly what I am trying to get across.”
Jones says he’s still trying to get to church and along the way, he’ll continue to drop pearls of wisdom for others to pick up along the path that he’s paved for them.
But he feels he’s getting closer. He’s already reached some of his goals, he says. “People might think my goal is to sell a million records. No! I already passed my goal. I did it. Being in this game is my goal. This is my first album. Just to get on it and get the shit in the stores -- I reached my goal. Everything else is just a blessing.”
Jim Jones Bio from Discogs
Died: November 18, 1978, Jonestown, Guyana
Famous creator of People's Temple whose actions led to subsequent death of more than 900 of his followers on Nov. 18 of 1978.