In hip-hop, everyone is hiding something. Persona is everything, and the game is a fickle beast, more rewarding to those who sideline introspection to make way for pretension. Flip on BET, and odds are, the latest fluff from Yung Joc is ranking higher on the kiddie countdown than, say, a Lupe Fiasco. Placing style over substance does just thatâ€”it conceals.
Perhaps no man feeds this beast more than Jim Jones. Capo status within his Dipset circle, the one-time subordinate to Cam'ron is now the team's mainstream spokesman, spewing peppered quotables to the press and bench-pressing half-naked women in videos. The Harlemite's pupils stay dilated (and yes, bloodshot), making it hard to parse through to the real Jim. For a man to be as charismatic and enigmatic as Jim Jones, though, a deeper story must lie within. Our curiosity piqued, so we arranged him a session with renowned Manhattan psychologist Dr. Jerilyn Kronen. Consider this when keeping it real goes right.
Dr. Kronen Have you ever been to a psychologist before?
Jim Jones Nah. The closest I've gotten was a school counselor.
I was a little reckless in high school. I went to Cardinal Hayes [an all boys' Catholic school in the Bronx]. I went to Catholic school all my life. It was strict, but I didn't always abide by the rules. I had fun, though. The whole school was about Catholic ideas, discipline, education.
You got called in?
I had a desk in the principal's office [laughs]. But for the most part, I cut up in school and didn't cut school. I graduated six months early. I got kicked out of Hayes during my senior year, and then I had to go to a public school. That was a whole different mission in itself. I went to Julia Richmond, which was the worst high school in New York City at that time.
So you finished high school there?
Yeah, I got my diploma from Julia Richmond. I was living with my grandmother in the projects of Harlem. She was a firm believer of, "You have to do something.â€ My first love was the streets, but I needed a roof over my head, so I had to play both sides of the fence. I was introduced to a lady by the name of Janet Barrett, and she owned an organization called Vehicles. Vehicles was a career-training and skills organization.
Was that for your grandmother?
Yeah, my grandmother told me that I had to do something or find a new place to stay. She raised me. My moms had me when she was young, so she was still socializing a lot, living the fast life. She was in and out every day. I loved her more every day, so it worked out.
Is your grandmother still alive?
No, my grandmother passed away [from cancer] a year after I graduated high school.
Was that the first loss for you?
Yeah, the first one I really felt in my heart. I was about 17, 18.
Was there anybody else like your grandmother around?
My uncle, he also raised me. My grandmother would go to work, so my uncle came in and cooked food for us. Made sure my sisters did their homework. He was a good father
figure for me. A real smooth criminal, a lady's man, real good in the kitchen, and a hustler.
Sounds like you had a lot of love. When you were in school back in the Bronx, what was your vision?
I came up watching the hustlers, drug dealers. My uncle was always hitting the street, and my mom was one of the hustlers I watched. Also, there were the big cars, pretty ladies, jewelry, money. I knew I had to be a part of that. Anyway, whether it was music or if it was another lane that I would have took, I would probably still be as big as I am today.
You have a real deep passion that's inside your marrow. That doesn't leave. It also sounds like there's curiosity.
Nothing surprises me at this point. I'm not trying to be cocky or anything. I've been in some of the worst situations, and I've come out unscathed. I've faced trials for years and I've been acquitted of all charges.
What does that say to you?
It's like my grandmother told me: No matter what you do or how strong you may think you are, God is in your life at all times and his angels make sure I'm protected, because there's something greater out there for me. I have no idea what that is. Right now, I'm just enjoying the ride. I love the entertainment business, the fast life. I love the cameras, the money. I love my child.
You have a son?
A 3-year-old son. His name is Joseph, the same as mine. I call him Pudy. He reminds me of how I was, because he's so advanced. I can still remember things I was doing when I was 3. I was like a whole little man; I understood what was going on. I started taking the trains of New York City with moms. By the time I was 9, I was taking it by myself to school, from Harlem to the Bronx.
Tell me more about your son.
I try not to be like my father, even though I love my father to death. At one point, the last time I had seen my pops was like when I was 11, 13, and then the next time after that I was like 26. By the time I was 27, he had passed away from over-indulgence of liquor and smoking, the same as my uncle. He was a great father, no matter if he wasn't there.
What's your memory of him?
There's just something about my father. He was the coolest dude. When he came around, he'd always dress sharp, always have money in his pocket. For the time he was around, I grabbed on so tight that I could never let go of his love or memoryâ€”13 years wasn't nothing; it felt like 13 days.
What I'm hearing is that you're very articulate and bright. You're driven, on a mission that you won't let yourself fail.
One of those famous painters, Da Vinci or one of them, said that . . . the dude who did the Sistine Chapel. What's his name? Michelangelo? They said he used to do paintings, and once it was over, he didn't give a hell about them. It was just over. I hate when it's over. I hate when I complete all the missions that I complete, because it's like, damn, the best part is over.
Yeah, but then there's another partâ€¦
Yeah, but then you have this beautiful painting up there and you don't really give two shits about it.
So, what you're saying is that, when it's done, you just move away?
I do music, right? For the life of me, I could perform every other day, and I don't remember none of my songs, and everybody knows this. I don't write nothing down. I just go in and do it.
What do you think that's about?
I don't know. For me, the music is . . . I wasn't supposed to be a musician.
**To read Dr. Kronen's final diagnosis of the Dipset's Capo, pick up the Mar/Apr '07 issue of KING. On newsstands now!