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A crown jewel of the early 00s, the album by The Diplomats has remained a staple of NY hip hop. With multiple classics across a double album along with plenty of firey deep cuts, the entire album has rightfully earned classic status. With the verses being handled majority by Cam’Ron, Juelz Santana & Jim Jones, they pull through with some of the greatest drug dealing raps & flexes ever laid on wax.
Coming off the back of Come Home With Me, Cam’Ron’s third studio album, it features Cam at a lyrical peak. Not only does he sound so nonchalant, making his raps sound like a skill that comes naturally, he packs in all these insane rhyme schemes. All under the mask of drug dealing flexes, Cam’s ability to talk shit but make it rhyme with internals your favorite backpacker rapper could only dream of is unmatched.
She bought a gravy Rover, it had a pastry odor
Yes she made the quota, cause I’m like Ray Liotta
The Diplomats – Purple Haze
This album, while it is presented by Cam, he is not the star of the show. This title goes to Juelz Santana, Cam’s then-protege. Not only does he get his hands on the majority of the hits, he even gets a proper introduction on “Who I Am.” While this album serves as a victory lap for Cam, leaving the more serious bars behind on Come Home With Me, Juelz raps like its his last chance to rap. Managing to straddle the line between the serious raps of the streets & having flexes that can go toe to toe with Cam, its obvious why Cam chose him to handle the album.
I see ghosts when I sleep
It’s real, I got to wake up, just to know I was sleep
Holding the heat, cold sweat all over my sheet
The Diplomats – Who I Am
Unfortunately the weakest link goes to Jim Jones. While his more modern music has seen him enter this veteran status, speaking more cool & calm with great bars, he hadn’t entered that level yet. His flow is ever so slightly off, adding an awkward feel to the tracks that Cam & Juelz consistently kill by themselves. His bars aren’t bad, you can even say he has one of the better verses on “Built This City,” but his flow clearly hadn’t been mastered yet.
In this apple of mine is rotten, deal
Clap up your shines, pop shots that’ll crack up your minds
And cop rocks and cook that crack up to dimes
New York City, the capital of crime
This isn’t to ignore the other Dipset members that appear, as we do see small appearances from Hell Rell & Freekey Zekey. Hell Rell in particular, who not only has one of the nicest voices of the group, but drops one of the best jail freestyles you can find. This freestyle is one of the coldest, taking full credit for the crime & his drug dealing past, he spits his verse knowing he’ll be back in no time.
And nigga I did the crime, I ain’t gonna cry about this time
Or hold no grudge with the judge
Just shackle me down, put me up North
Send me to my cell, long as y’all don’t fuck with my food or my mail, I’m good, nigga
The Diplomats – Hell Rell Interlude
Of course this couldn’t all come together in the way it does without the producers. The Heatmakerz handle the majority of the tracklist, and they absolutely kill it. Multiple soul sample chops with some of the hardest drums to grace NY music, they manage to maintain interest for the entire runtime of nearly two hours. Even though they follow the sped up sample trends laid by producers like Kanye & Just Blaze, their production here is just as good. They prove this by being within the same tracklist as them, with the Kanye beat for Un Kasa feeling like a throwaway, and the two Just Blaze joints sounding just as good as The Heatmakerz tracks.
A handful of tracks had landed on mixtapes & other albums prior to their release, and it goes to show how destined this album was to reach its classic status. Multiple tracks here had proven to be hits already, they provided us with a remix of Master P’s “Bout It Bout It” that adds a new dimension to the already anthemic nationwide encompassing track. “Hey Ma” gets a Dipset remix as well, featuring a new Cam verse & verse from Toya, but it was a product from the mixtape Diplomats Volume 3. The track “Juelz Santana the Great” is another hold over from Diplomats Volume 2, as are many tracks.
The Diplomats – Bout It Bout It…, Part III
Its an album that winds up juggling multiple tasks, and exceeds all of them with flying colors. It acts as an introduction to Dipset themselves, a victory lap for Cam’Ron, drumming up hype for Juelz, something of a greatest hits of their mixtape work. Despite its incredibly long run time no track feels unnecessary, maybe its in part to the skits that break up the length, but its also clearly on the tracks being that good. Even the weakest members have highlights, and there’s very few moments of poor performances. No matter what came from the group after the album, none of it matters, because this one has managed to stand the test of time.