nce better known as the guy in the Cam'ron video that kinda looked like John Forte, Jim Jones is now a star on the rise. On one hand, you have smash hit "We Fly High," whose synergy with the New York Giants continues to baffle white sportswriters. On the other, there's his planned reality show, which comes on the heels of TV execs realizing that you never know what kind of dumb shit will come out of his mouth. He's almost like hip-hop's Borat—extracting hilarity and a bit of mad genius from a bottomless pit of ignorance.
A good swath of that train-wreck appeal finds its way onto Hustler's P.O.M.E. (that's "Product of My Environment," not a "U.S. and A" malapropism), which is crucial, because if we’re being honest, that's the only reason we're here. As can be expected with a Koch release, the beats are like a fake Rolex: cheap, brassy, gaudy, and not all that good at keeping time. The only diversion from the monster synths and somewhat Southern (read: cheap) drum sounds is the arena rock piano of the utterly absurd "Love of My Life." The guest list is also typically Koch; you'll get your Lil' Wayne cameo, but you'll also get Hell Rell and plain ol' Rell. Meanwhile, hook slinger Max B starts the "Free Freekey Zeekey" campaign by warbling through a random pitch generator set on "vaguely Jamaican."
Even though the capo vainglory of "Reppin' Time" and "Bright Lights, Big City" is more entertaining than anything on Kingdom Come, by just about any metric, Jim Jones is an unremarkable MC. As Stylus writer Evan McGarvey puts it, Jones’s approach can be only be described as "get me out of these sixteen bars." And, most of the time, his verses don't find him in a place that's all that far removed from where he started. Jones can be surprisingly witty and there's a certain baseline of quality that his verses never dip below, but his drawl drizzles Novocain over the whole thing, so that even his more pithy one-liners ("That's why you're ballin' but you're foolish / Gettin' locked up for crimes and your lawyers ain't Jewish") sound like happy accidents.
He's not particularly ambitious: the subject matter doesn't really go very far beyond getting one's money up and Tupac-derived fatalism. If you can explain to your grandfather the difference between ballin', stuntin', and flossin', you might be able to parse through the majority of P.O.M.E. "Emotionless" is the requisite "serious track," and still boasts "five thousand spent on pants." Even the love songs contain more than a few "BALLIN'!"s thrown in for good measure.
(About that: if you consider that catchphrase one of the main attractions of P.O.M.E., you'll be a pig in shit here. Jones interjects himself at the end of every single line on this album, and you'll either find it hysterical or incredibly annoying. Although, it's actually kinda fun to anticipate what he'll say next, because unlike the usual hype-man repetition or Young Jeezy approach to ad-libbing, Jones either summarizes, augments, or contradicts the lines. It can lead to remarkably humorous exhortations like "CARESS HER A LITTLE!," "TEXTIN'!" or "TWINKLE TWINKLE!" Of course, most of the time it's either "THAT PURPLE!," "TWISTED!," and of course, "BALLIN'!" so we should probably just take what we can get in the way of variety…)
P.O.M.E. might not be of a higher quality than the last major label releases from Cam'ron and Juelz Santana, but it's more successful at scratching the DipSet itch. Diplomatic Immunity and Purple Haze saw the group cross over to the demographic that spends a lot of time thinking about year-end lists and generating unrealistic expectations of the Dips being into stuff like album-cum-statements and growing artistically. No one will confuse this as a claim to some imaginary MC throne: Jones embraces the fact that DipSet was tailor made for the hands-off Koch. The overhead is low, the product is pumped out on a regular basis, and the profits are high enough to create an alternate universe where legends never have to go platinum. Anyone familiar with the Dip aesthetic knows that a Pharrell beat or credible R&B singers would bring nothing to the table; they need a label that'll greenlight Jim Jones Presents: A DipSet Christmas. So count P.O.M.E. as a pretty successful missive to the converted; if you've spent more than a few minutes debating whether or not to listen to a Jim Jones album, it's almost impossible to be let down.