DIPSET: Cam'Ron, Jim Jones, Juelz Santana, Freeky Zekey
On-Sale: Wednesday 3.14 @ 10am!
Tastemaker Live & Sean Healy Presents
(Cam'Ron, Jim Jones, Juelz Santana & Freeky Zekey)
FRIDAY July 13th / 9PM - 3AM / 21+
Cameron Giles, better known worldwide as the Grammy-nominated, multiplatinum-selling rapper Cam’ron, is one of the few artists in hip-hop who has managed to remain relevant for nearly as long as the music has existed. Born and raised in Harlem, Cam’ron epitomizes the unmatched entrepreneurial spirit of the neighborhood between the 110th and 155th blocks of Upper Manhattan, having successfully tackled the roles of hip-hop artist, director, actor, screenwriter, designer, and entrepreneur with finesse. He is the de facto leader and founding member of The Diplomats, arguably one of the most influential crews in hip-hop, that has left an indelible mark on the style, language, and swagger of both New York City and hip-hop culture.
Cam’ron is undoubtedly one of the greatest anti-heroes in hip-hop: he’s the man who spawned a thousand memes, drove an unmistakable “Laffy Taffy” Range Rover, wore head-to-toe pink mink in the 2002 Mercedes Benz NY Fashion Week, told Anderson Cooper he wouldn’t snitch on a hypothetical serial killer neighbor, humiliated Bill O’Reilly on his own show, closed out Mark McNairy's runway show wearing custom Dipset capes, and whose face unofficially re-appropriated on everything from orthopedic shoes to Valentine’s Day cards. Cam’ron is truly one of a kind, a paradoxical living legend in pop culture whose point of view as hysterical as it is harrowing and accessible as it is absurd. Unapologetic and unstoppable, Killa Cam is back with a vengeance.
Juelz Santana aka LaRon James was born in Harlem, New York to parents of Black and Dominican descent. He began writing rhymes at the age of twelve and was originally signed to Priority Records as one half of the duo called Draft Pick. The group had several shows around New York City while together, including Amateur Night at the Apollo Theatre, where they won two weeks in a row. Some time after this, he was introduced to Cam'ron through a cousin. He impressed Cam'ron with his unique delivery and command of his freestyles and Cam'ron, a seasoned artist, recognized star potential in the teenage Santana. His first rapping appearance can be heard on Cam'ron's remix of "What Means The World To You", which features artists such as Ludacris, Pimp C, Bun B, and Trina. He is now signed as a solo artist to Diplomat Records/Def Jam Recordings.
Along with fellow Harlem-based player Cam'ron, Jim Jones founded the Diplomat label, home to the Diplomats/Dipset and many of that crew's prolific solo activities. Though more of a businessman and behind-the-scenes figure than an MC (he was also named a director of A&R at Warner Music Group in early 2005), Jones released solo albums in 2004 (On My Way to Church, which hit the Top 20 upon its August release) and 2005 (Diary of a Summer). The 2006 album Hustler's P.O.M.E. (Product of My Environment) took him out of the background and into the spotlight thanks to the massive hit "We Fly High." The track made it to number five on the Billboard Hot 100, topped their Hot Rap Tracks chart, and was adopted by the New York Giants football team as their unofficial anthem. By the end of the year a remix of "We Fly High" landed on Jones' holiday album A Dipset Christmas. The album Harlem's American Gangster appeared in 2008, just as rumors of Jones' exit from Dipset began to spread. His other release that year, M.O.B.: The Album, introduced his Byrd Gang crew. In 2010, his “Salute” single featured a reunited Dipset, with both Cam'ron and Juelz Santana making guest appearances. The track landed on his Capo album a year later
Harlem-based crew the Diplomats, aka Dipset, gained a reputation for inundating the New York mixtape circuit with their CDs, and they have been fairly successful at it, too. Some of that credit goes toward Diplomats Records president Ezekiel Jiles, better known as Freekey Zekey. Despite his executive status, Zekey performed with his crew as an energetic hype man and was also responsible for the ridiculous skits on Dipset mixtapes and lead member Cam'ron's albums. Before coming into his own as a solo artist, he endured hard times and run-ins with the law. His close friend and bodyguard was shot and killed next to him in 2003. Police first suspected Zekey of the crime, but not long after he was vindicated, Zekey was convicted on older charges of operating an ecstasy ring. While in prison for over two years in Durham, NC, he still kept up to date on the thriving business of his Diplomats family, and he also began writing complete verses. Thus, within only a few weeks of his release in November 2006, the same month that Dipset rapper Jim Jones started ruling the independent album chart with Hustler's P.O.M.E., he signed a multi-million dollar contract with Asylum Records for his first solo album. That album, Book of Ezekial, was then released the summer of the following year.