The Diplomats
Diplomatic Immunity II

Dipset Mixtapes

he year 2004 will probably be remembered, at least by the men who form Harlem’s Dipset—which, for the uninitiated, is short for Diplomats—crew, as the one in which the Dips finally began to rise off of the mix-tape morass of underground rap and into the wider world of critical acclaim and, for the Diplomats as a unit, commercial success. With increasingly successful singles, several attention-grabbing feuds and, rarest of all for most rap crews, a genuinely great album (Cam’ron’s Purple Haze) to their name, all eyes seem increasingly on Cameron “Cam’ron” Giles, Joe “Jim” Jones, LaRon “Juelz Santana” James and the other members of the Diplomats. If 2004 was the year Dipset broke, 2005 needs to be the year Dipset blow up.

It’s with all that in mind that you should approach Diplomatic Immunity II. Now, granted, this mixtape technically came out in 2004. But between Jim Jones’ uneven On My Way To Church and Cam’ron’s thrilling Purple Haze, Diplomatic Immunity II seemed to stay well under the radar, to such an extent that it’s only getting reviewed by some publications, including Stylus, in early 2005. Release date aside, it’s clear that Diplomatic Immunity II isn’t just another mixtape. This mixtape, unlike previous Dipset outings such as Luca Brazi’s Gladiator, must be viewed in the light of Dipset’s rising star and the greatness of Purple Haze. Does it work?

Well, it certainly improves on its predecessor, Diplomatic Immunity I. That mixtape suffered from all the afflictions of the modern rap album: too many songs, too much dicking around, frequently sketchy production, and a cast of supporting characters who couldn’t really keep up with the featured players. In every case, the second volume improves on the first. Dipset have trimmed the number of songs, and, more importantly, achieved a level of consistent quality that surpasses all earlier Dipset mixtapes. This consistency may seem to come with a price, however, as none of the songs on Diplomatic Immunity II match the heights of genius reached on Volume 1, like “I Really Mean It” or “Built This City,” but this fact could also be attributed to the unfortunate lack of Just Blaze beats on this album. At the same time, this album never gets as bad as Diplomatic Immunity I’s disastrous remix of “Hey Ma.” On the “dicking around” front, Diplomatic Immunity II features a complete absence of skits or “interludes” as the Dips pretentiously insist on calling them. This is good, since you could probably fit every non-worthless skit in rap history onto a single 90-minute cassette and still have space for Ras Kass’ 8-minute reverse-racism epic “Nature Of The Threat.”

And then there are the rappers themselves. You can, of course, count on Killa Cam, Jimmy Jones and Juelz “Human Crack” Santana to come through, and their Dominican prodigy J.R. Writer also seems keen to show people he’s not fucking around. No surprise there. It’s the lesser lights who are more unpredictable, and who all too often hold Diplomatic Immunity II back. It’s not that 40 Cal, Jha Jha, or U.K. imports/putative Dizzee Rascal rivals S.A.S. (Strictly About Stacking) are bad rappers. They’ve all got skills. They’re just inconsistent rappers who clearly don’t approach their craft with as much seriousness as the leading Dips do. Consequently, they often come across as inadequate and out-of-place. Although it’s perfectly commendable for Cam and Jones to put their boys on, they need to avoid being dragged down by unnecessary baggage. Nobody on this tape is even remotely as bad as anybody in D12, St. Lunatics, or other “weed holder” entourages, but those particular cautionary tales should definitely be in the minds of both Executive Producers when they set out to make Diplomatic Immunity III.

The sheer talent of Cam, Jones, and Santana (and to a lesser extent, J.R. Writer and Hell Rell) is evident from the singles off this mixtape, “S.A.N.T.A.N.A,” “Push It,” and “Crunk Muzik,” which more or less feature only the cream of the Dipset crop. These singles, along with tracks like “Dutty Clap” (which lets the aforementioned S.A.S. shine over rolling keys and hand claps) and the merciless Ma$e diss “Take ‘Em To Church” (on which Juelz takes issue with Ma$e’s album title, saying, “he wasn’t welcome in the first place, how we gonna welcome him back?”) are the best songs on the album. Diplomatic Immunity II, flawed though it may be, is ultimately a fine beginning to what promises to be 2005: Year of the Dips.

Reviewed by: Ryan Hardy

Reviewed on: 2005-01-05

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