On this day 10 calendars ago, Cam’ron brought America a modern day classic – Diplomatic Immunity 1. The truth about said album? There hasn’t been a better compilation project since.
Already riding high off a MVP-caliber 2002, Cam used the following year as a stepping stone for those around him. These are also what would become known as Dipset’s prime years. In a two year stretch from 2002-2004, The Diplomats would release Cam’s Come Home With Me and Purple Haze, Diplomatic Immunity 1 & 2, Juelz Santana’s From Me To U and Back Like Cooked Crack 1, Jim Jones’ On My Way To Church, Diplomats Vols. 2-4 and J.R. Writer’s Writer’s Block 1.
It was Diplomatic Immunity whose timestamp left its mark in a variety of manners. The lyrics were audacious, with no sense of crossover appeal whatsoever. If the Dips were going to blow up, it was going to be on their terms. The production was sprinkled with Just Blaze and a hint of Kanye, but Dipset’s chemistry with The Heatmakerz help craft a sound which every group member found impossible of recreating as their careers all ventured down different paths.
As much as Cam’s overall godfather guidance, Jimmy’s recklessness and Juelz’s still untapped potential helped guide the project, it was The Heatmakerz who deserved as much credit as any party involved. The trail of fire they left speaks for itself – “Who Am I,” “More Than Music,” “Dipset Anthem,” “I’m Ready,” “My Love,” “I Love You,” “Bout It Bout It III,” and more.
It’s the Master P-assisted and inspired “Bout It” which reintroduced itself to my rotation several weeks ago. The record, the video, the lyrics, the presentation, it was all different. No one from New York embraced the South in the manner the Diplomats did. Where Jay-Z’s “Big Pimpin” with UGK became an undeniable hit, it was Cam and company who constantly made the effort to reach out to those below the Mason-Dixon Line – whether it be because they knew a cultural shift was on the horizon, they legitimately appreciated the music or a combination of the three. The sound of their music even drew influence at times from the South, much like that of the A$AP crew now.
Despite the influences though, Cam repped Harlem. And for an outsider peering into Harlem in the early 2000s when the Internet was first supplanting itself as a key contributor in progressing and promoting the music, as far as I knew, the Diplomats eagle was the official bird of New York. And the jerseys? Such a sign of the times, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t work overtime to save money in efforts to buy the Sonics Shawn Kemp jersey at April’s Sports from the local mall.
There’s a lot more that can and should be said about the album. Like how weird it is to see Juelz now and hearing him then, when he was considered one of the most “can’t miss prospects” in rap. Or about how the lack of Rocafella involvement should’ve been a red flag something was up. Or about how much more The Dips’ movement could have achieved had they and the other parties of The Roc came to some sort of creative middle ground.
Don’t torture yourself with what could’ve been though. Celebrate what was. Celebrate where life placed you 10 years ago today. And celebrate despite you changing, the music changing, and the fashion changing, Diplomatic Immunity never will. Let’s all dust off that oversized throwback in the back of the closet and drink to that. So what if it’s Monday.