The Diplomats - Diplomatic Immunity  
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written by Low Key    
In today's music industry it is not always what you know but whom you know. The Diplomats are living proof of this statement, as it's not their skills or outstanding abilities on the mic that have gotten them where they are today but rather their connections within the industry. Cam'ron and his Diplomat crew, consisting of Jim Jones, Juelz Santana, Hell Rell & Freeky Zeekey, first starting building up some modest street hype upon the crews signing to Roc-A-Fella Records. Soon this modest hype built up into a full frenzy after the release of Cam's "Oh Boy". Soon mixtapes everywhere were cluttered with Cam and his Dipset affiliates as they flooded the market with their own brand of Harlem street tales. Right from the start you knew it was only a matter of time until the Diplomats tried to strike it rich with their debut group album "Diplomatic Immunity".

As expected, "Diplomatic Immunity" is an album for the streets, nothing more or less. The albums strong hold lies within this commitment to the streets along with its production. As with any Roc-A-Fella release, outstanding production is expected and "Diplomatic Immunity" follows this trend for the most part. However, as Just Blaze & Kanye West have laced the Roc with amazing production the past couple of years, it's newcomers The Heatmakers that provide most of the production for "Diplomatic Immunity". Just Blaze & Kanye West are well known for their looping of soul and the Heatmakers have duplicated this sound to a tee. The Heatmakers definitely owe some sort of gratitude towards Just Blaze & Kanye, as their production is a straight rip off, however, it does provide the Diplomats with their only means of success regarding "Diplomatic Immunity". While it's not as original as the industry's elite, as the Heatmakers usually just up the temp on the looped soul, it's definitely catchy and hard hitting.

The only time "Diplomatic Immunity" can be looked at as a decent album is when the production side overshadows all other aspects, which happens most of the time, as it does not require that much difficulty to overshadow the lurid lyricism featured on the album. "Dipset Anthem" takes advantage of the Heatmakers solid production, which of course features a nice vocal sample. Taking a bit out of the Geto Boy's "Mind Playin Tricks On Me", the Dipset crew offers a fairly entertaining track. Juelz Santana is considered a bright up and coming star in the industry, even though lyrically you could find better structure from Noreaga or LiL Romeo. Juelz solo attempt "Who I Am" is of course overshadowed by the production aspect and its looped vocal sample. However, Juelz actually comes correct on the mic for a change, as he runs through the more emotional side of his life, painting a picture of hardships and struggles. It's one of the few times where Juelz doesn't run off track with his rambling nonsense on the mic. "Built This City", which samples the classic Starship track by the same name, "What's Really Good" featuring Dmx & the controversial "Ground Zero" are all standout efforts from the crew that will sure to have systems bumping all summer long.

As the stronghold of the group, Cam'ron plays a large role in the albums minimal success. While never the best lyricist, as seen on "Purple Haze", "Lets get purple like Grimace or Barney", Cam does posses a gritty sense of street life that attracts many. The other remaining Dipset members can hardly be considered rappers, as they are more like street hooligans happy to get on. The CEO of the Diplomats Jim Jones spits a mediocre verse occasionally, while Freekey Zeekey plays the role of ODB in the group, no where to be seen. The incarcerated gangsta Hell Rell is the last remaining member of the Dipset crew and is easily the worst. His laughable attempts at lyricism can be seen on the over the phone freestyles from prison and "This Is What I Do". With a lot of time on his hands in prison, maybe Hell Rell should work on his rap game a little and not give us lines like "Yeah you hot, but that's because it burns every time you take a pee pee", which is nothing but embarrassing.

While for the most part the production aspect of "Diplomatic Immunity" shines bright, the constant looping of soul does get repetitive and boring after awhile. The O'Jay's sample of "More Than Music" and the sub par production of "Juelz Santana The Great" (which is an overstatement if I ever heard one) & "Gangsta" are all mediocre. Not to mention the average thug ramblings of "The First", "Beautiful Noise" & "Un Casa". Even worse is the straight jacking of Marvin Gaye's timeless classic "Let's Get It On" on "Let's Go" & Az's "Mo Money, Mo Murder" on "Real Niggas". While The Diplomats & The Heatmakers have a good taste for classic soul music, maybe they should leave the timeless classics like "Lets Get It On" alone, for everyone's sake.

With two discs of material "Diplomatic Immunity" falls into the same category as all other double disc albums fall into, too much filler material. The various freestyles, interludes and dated tracks were unnecessarily thrown in and make the album drag on. A good amount of the material on "Diplomatic Immunity" was released before hand, as the Diplomats mixtapes the past year featured material such as "I Really Mean It", "I'm Ready" & "Bout It Bout It Part III". The Diplomats should have taken a page out of 50 Cents book and leave the already released tracks for the mixtapes and only give fans new tracks for the album.

"Diplomatic Immunity" is a two-sided story that can be viewed in a multitude of ways. One the one hand the lyrical content of the album is down right abysmal and horrendous. "Diplomatic Immunity" could very well be the worst lyrical album released in the past ten years. However, on the other hand what did fans expect? Most knew going into the album that lyrical skills were going to be at a low and instead focused on the albums production, which is very fulfilling. If you can bear some of the most generic, run of the mill type songs and lurid lyricism in exchange for outstanding production, then "Diplomatic Immunity" might be the debut release you expected.

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