Either you love The Diplomats or you hate them. For many fans, their representation of the streets is unparalleled. They rap about the life some only dream about and have an arrogant swagger that dares you to come against them. Combine this with some great production from the Heatmakerz, and you have a group with an insane cult following. On the other hand, for many The Diplomats represent everything that is wrong wit Hip Hop, a group of wild and ignorant emcees that promote gang and street violence. Not to mention their lack of lyrical talent, which at times is down right abysmal. These are the two sides of The Diplomats, and they will never change.
Depending on which side you fall on is going to affect your judgment on The Diplomats newest release from Jim Jones titled "On My Way To Church". For some the album will end up as one of the group's finest efforts, while for others it will be the same old story. However, Jim Jones debut album is neither spectacular nor embarrassing; instead, it is a solid album that finds the middle ground between the two extremes.
While Jones will get his fair share of criticism for his lack of lyrical talent, there is no denying he is head and shoulders above his Dipset counterparts. While Cam'ron and Juelz Santana often stumble with their syrupy flow and grade school lyrics, Jim Jones on the other hand does a decent job at putting together coherent and respectable verses throughout "On My Way To Church".
However, the real strongpoint of the album is its production. While the beats are not as monumental as they were on "Diplomatic Immunity", they certainly are satisfying. "This Is Jim Jones" finds the Heatmakerz cooking up their usual brand of chipmunk soul that seems to never get old. "Only One Way Up" is an electric synthesizer produced track that features Cam & Juelz rocking along side Jimmy for one of the albums best tracks. Even though the track is a prime example of the Diplomats horrid lyricism, as Juelz and Cam both flounder with their respective verses, as always great production is able to overcome it all.
Newcomer Blackout Muzik offers two of the better beats on the album with "Crunk Muzik" and "Bend N Stretch". "Crunk Muzik" epitomizes the Dipset's motto of "powerful music", as Jim Jones and Juelz Santana pull off an energy-filled track. "Bend N Stretch" just maybe one of the Diplomat's catchiest songs yet, as the songs hook will stay permanently etched in your brain for days. "When Thugs Die" & "Livin Life As A Rider" are more vintage Dipset track that succeed to due good production and solid hooks.
The album's two standout tracks are "Twin Towers" featuring Bizzy Bone and "Lonely Daze/Memory Lane". While a collaboration with Bone Thugs~N~Harmony's Bizzy Bone is one of the last things you would expect on "On My Way To Church", the song is easily one of the best the Diplomats have ever offered. Bizzy steals the show and the entire album wit his jaw dropping verse. His insane double timed flow and precise wordplay is criminally slept on, but take full form over "Twin Towers" gorgeous piano keys. "Lovely Daze/Memory Lane" is the best change of pace track featured on the album, as the song is divided into two parts. The first half, "Lonely Daze", finds Jones reminiscing about the good old days of "exploring the streets". The second half, "Memory Lane", is more of the same; however, Chad Hamilton's serene production takes the half to another level.
Even though "On My Way To Church" has its fair share of standout moments, it also features some filler material. The Heatmakerz fail to impress with their production on "Jamaican Joint" and "End Of The Road". The collaboration with T.I. and Bun B on "End Of The Road" is particularly disappointing, as the Heatmakerz bland beat is only made worse by T.I.'s molasses flow and Jimmy's ramblings. The pairing of Jim Jones and Chico Debarge on "Spanish Fly" is another lackluster effort, as Jones' flow is completely off beat.
If you are looking for amazing lyrics and out of this world concepts, than "On My Way To Church" is not for you. However, if you are content with having hard-hitting beats and entertaining music, than Jim Jones may satisfy you with his debut release. Even though the Diplomats get their share of criticism, Jim Jones has stepped his game up since "Diplomatic Immunity". While he may not have the charisma or flare of Cam'ron or Juelz, Jim Jones succeeds in his simplicity. You can at least follow along with what he is saying, which cannot be said for Juelz and Cam at times, who often pop off at the mouth with their nonsensical ramblings. Jim Jones may not be changing the world or setting any new trends with "On My Way To The Church", but it certainly is an entertaining album that hits hard from beginning to end.