Jim Jones Talks Reconnecting With His Puerto Rican Roots & Cementing His Legacy

Photo by Miguel McSongwe for Remezcla

In this lifetime, we can only hope to find a single career we’re passionate about. But when you’re Jim Jones, there’s no industry that the Harlem native can’t touch — he’s amassing a collection of job titles and making it look easy in the process. Hip-hop mogul, musician, actor, reality TV star, podcaster, designer, entrepreneur, and humanitarian are just a few ways to describe him. “Idle time is the devil’s playground, and I’ve never been a fan of the devil. I’m a God-fearing man,” Jones tells Remezcla. 

That would explain the musical triathlon that Jones is going on this summer. While the Internet is fiercely debating the song of the summer, Jones has a number of new projects that could contend. Namely, a Latine album, Broken Spanglish, that has been in the works for years with features from artists like Arcángel, Nelly Nelz, and J Balvin. The album marks Jones’ first full-length venture into a hybrid market, blending dembow, Latine trap, reggaeton, and Spanglish drill. “I learned more Spanish recording this album than I’ve known my whole life,” he shares. 

Joseph “Jim” Guillermo Jones II, born to a Puerto Rican father and an Aruban mother, didn’t intimately grow up with his paternal side. However, he still has memories that planted curiosity in connecting with his people, like his grandmother’s constant Spanish-language TV shows. “My grandmother still don’t even know the best English right now,” Jones says. “I’m grateful for my heritage and my Puerto Rican people.”

More than expanding his discography, Jones plans to deepen his ancestral connections. “I’ve been to Puerto Rico a few times, but not on the basis of trying to see my family or look where my family is from and things like that,” he notes. “I’ll take that excursion pretty soon because it’s well-needed. It’s part of my roots, and I need to learn more about it.”

Even releasing a single project would be a heavy lift for most artists. Jones clearly doesn’t fall into the norm, as The Diplomats co-founder has three additional projects in the works for 2024: a successor mixtape to Vampire Life 3, the second installment of his debut album On My Way to Church, and a Lobby Boyz album and tour. “I’ve been doing this for more than 20 years, so I’ve probably seen everything and everywhere seven, eight, nine times already. But to be inside of this industry and be able to make a dollar for something that you create keeps it exciting,” Jones says.

Lobby Boyz, one of Jones’ newest musical ventures, adds yet another supergroup designation under his belt. The duo, comprised of Jones and Brooklyn rapper Maino, morphed their decades-long brotherhood into yet another album that builds on their debut, which featured Fabolous, Benny the Butcher, Young M.A., Fivio Foreign, and more. The moniker “Lobby Boyz” pays homage to him and Maino’s beginnings in New York City housing, which never strays far from Jones’ heart. “Now I come back to my neighborhood and give these kids the same inspiration I wish was there,” he says.

I’ve been doing this for more than 20 years, so I’ve probably seen everything and everywhere seven, eight, nine times already. But to be inside of this industry and be able to make a dollar for something that you create keeps it exciting.

The way Jones sees it, his journey to greatness might have been pre-destined, compliments to this mother and the power of manifestation. “I’ve always known I had star power within in from when I was born. My mama told me I had star power, so that was already instilled in me, whether I did or didn’t feel like it. Whatever you speak, words are powerful. Sometimes you move in the direction that you speaking about,” he says. 

Growing up in Harlem sealed the deal on his notoriety. “There was something different about Harlem. Everybody there was always fresh. The style, the flash, the way people walk, the way people talk, the attitude it was infectious,” he recalls. 

Photo by Miguel McSongwe for Remezcla
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This uniqueness carried over into not only his music but also his fashion choices. Dipset’s flashy jewelry, bright and bold patterns, and their unlimited amount of accessories have an undeniable influence on streetwear today. Jones keeps this momentum going, from walking New York Fashion Week with Off-White and KidSuper, partnering with VEERT, and spearheading his own clothing line with Damon Dash, Vampire Life Clothing. “So many people have taken bits and pieces of my style and came up with their own identity because that’s what it’s all about,” he says. “That’s all I did when I was coming up. I saw something and I didn’t want to reinvent it. Well, I felt I wanted to make it better.”

So, no matter the particular channel, it’s clear Jones isn’t done building the legacy that initially propelled him into the spotlight. “As life goes on, whatever the next thing is that does interest me, I’m gonna find a way to get involved with it. The way the world runs and the accessibility we have to social media and the Internet, nothing is excluded for me,” he affirms.