Childhood & Early Life
Jim Jones was born on July 15, 1976, in The Bronx borough of New York City, as one of the three children of Nancy Jones and Joseph Guillermo Jones I. His mother is originally from Aruba whereas his late father was a Puerto Rican.
He has two sisters, Keisha and Precious. He predominantly grew up in Harlem, under the care of his grandmother. He enrolled at a local Catholic School and would often skip church to loaf about and play hooky at the local train station.
In ‘Jim Jones' The Come Up DVD, Vol. 19’, he talked about what it was like to grow up with fellow rapper Freekey Zekey. He recounted that he would often linger at a store a block from the church he was a member of, enter the store, chat with the owner and when the owner left, steal all the money from the register and the candies. He later sold those candies at school. Eventually, the school found out and he was expelled.
Jones’ indoctrination into the world of hip-hop occurred quite early in his life. He was six years old when he met Dame Dash, one of the future co-founders of Roc-A-Fella Records along with Kareem “Biggs” Burke and Jay-Z. At the age of 13, Jones became acquainted with Cameron Giles or Cam'ron, who would have a significant effect on his career as a musician.
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The Diplomats was formed in 1997 and they made their first commercial appearance on Cam'ron's 2000 album ‘S.D.E.’. Cam'ron later signed with Roc-A-Fella Records and released his third album, ‘Come Home with Me’, through them. It was a massive hit and the lead singles, ‘Oh Boy’ and ‘Hey Ma’, were certified platinum. Jones was featured in two of its tracks: the title track and ‘Dead or Alive’.
In March 2003, the group made their debut with ‘Diplomatic Immunity’. It is comprised of 27 tracks, including ‘Dipset Anthem’, ‘I Really Mean It’, ‘Ground Zero’, and ‘Bout It Bout It...Part III’ (featuring Master P). It was a modest hit, receiving the gold certification from RIAA. In 2012, it was listed as one of the classic albums of the last decade by Complex.
The group released their second album, ‘Diplomatic Immunity 2’, a year later, in November 2004 through Koch Records. Comprised of 17 tracks, it reached the third spot on the US Independent Albums (Billboard) chart and the eighth spot on the US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (Billboard) chart.
The group began to have several internal problems in 2007 and soon, there were speculations of a possible split. Jones, along with Juelz Santana, who had joined the group in 1999, made an appearance on a 50 Cent concert, adding more fuel to the rumours, as Cam'ron had been feuding with 50 Cent at the time. However, they did not rule out future collaborations.
Besides the two studio albums, The Diplomats has put out five compilation albums: ‘More Than Music, Vol. 1’ (2005), ‘Cam'ron Presents Dukedagod Dipset: Movement Moves’ (2006), ‘Dipset: More Than Music, Vol. 2’ (2006), ‘Dipset Mania: Special Edition’ (2011), and ‘Dipset Mania: Back to Business, Vol. 2’ (2013) and five volumes of Diplomats mixtapes, released between 2002 and 2005.
By September 2008, all members of the group had gone their separate ways and formed their own groups. Jones set up ByrdGang with Chink Santana, Juelz Santana, and NOE and released their debut album, ‘M.O.B.: The Album’, in July 2008. Reaching the 29th spot on the Billboard 200, it sold about 65,000 copies.
In April 2010, Jones and Cam'ron revealed that they had ended their feud. They released a new single titled ‘Salute’ in June 2010. However, the plan to release a new album was postponed several times as the group encountered one problem after another.
In May 2014, the original members of the group came together to record a new single called ‘Dipshits’. They eventually released their first mixtape in ten years, titled ‘American Dream’, in July 2015.
In 2017, the group announced that they have plans of releasing a new EP alongside a documentary. On November 22, 2017, they came together to perform a one night only concert at the Manhattan Center.
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In March 2018, Juelz Santana was apprehended by the police for possession of a firearm at the Newark Liberty International Airport. Following this, Cam'ron announced on his Instagram that he, Jones, and Freekey Zeekey would keep on touring without Santana but he asserted that Santana would soon be home.
Jim Jones began his solo career with the release of ‘On My Way to Church’ in August 2004. It contained 21 tracks and reached the fourth spot on the US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (Billboard) chart. It was followed by two of his most successful studio albums: ‘Harlem: Diary of a Summer’ and ‘Hustler's P.O.M.E. (Product of My Environment)’.
‘Pray IV Reign’, his fourth album, was put out in March 2009. This was his first and only studio album that was released through Columbia Records. In October 2009, Jones’ collaborative effort with DJ Webstar, ‘The Rooftop’ was released. In the ensuing years, Jones put out two more albums, ‘Capo’ in April 2011 and ‘Wasted Talent’ in April 2018.
He has also released two compilation albums, ‘A Dipset X-Mas’ in December 2006 and ‘A Tribute to Bad Santa Starring Mike Epps’ in November 2008 and two EPs, ‘We Own the Night’ in December 2013 and ‘We Own the Night Pt. 2: Memoirs of a Hustler’ in September 2014.
He has made 19 mixtapes, including ‘Ryder Muzik’ (2002), ‘Harlem's American Gangster’ (2008), ‘Pray IV Reign: The Mixtape’ (2009), ‘Vampire Life 3’ (2013), and ‘The Kitchen’ (2016).
In the early years of his career, he directed the music videos for The Diplomats and would later adopt the pseudonym CAPO to direct music videos for Cam'ron, Santana and others. In 2008, Jones starred in the Off-Broadway musical ‘Hip-Hop Monologues: Inside the Life and Mind of Jim Jones’.
He is often credited for starting the fashion trend called rapper rockstar style which became quite popular in the mid-2000s. In 2007, he launched his clothing brand Nostic based on the trend. He has also invested in several other business ventures over the years, including Sizzurp Purple Punch Liquor (2004); Dipskate, which is a freestyle rolling team (2006); Protocol, an outwear collection (2011); and Vampire Life Clothing Line (2012).
On August 23, 2005, Jones released his second album, titled ‘Harlem: Diary of a Summer’. It is one of his most successful works to date. Produced by Amadeus, Pete Rock, Treblemakers, Mayor, and Zurc, among others, it topped the US R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and Independent Albums charts.
His album ‘Hustler's P.O.M.E. (Product of My Environment)’ was released on November 7, 2006, and it too topped the US R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and Independent Albums charts. ‘We Fly High’, one of the singles from the album, reached the fifth spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Jim Jones has been in a long-term relationship with television personality Chrissy Lampkin. They starred together in VH1’s reality television series ‘Chrissy & Mr. Jones’ from 2012 to 2013. They returned for a six-part series, ‘Jim & Chrissy: Vow or Never’ in 2016. They had also appeared in ‘Love & Hip Hop’ for two seasons (2011-12). Jones has a son named Joseph Guillermo Jones III.
Besides Cam'ron, Jones has had feuds with True-Life, Jay-Z, ASAP Mob, and Azealia Banks over the years for various reasons.