A 10-Year History of The Diplomats Reuniting
In the early to mid-2000s, Dipset was shaking shit up in New York City. Along with G-Unit, Harlem rappers Cam’ron, Jim Jones, Juelz Santana and Freekey Zekey set the tone in a Big Apple rap scene that was seeing an influx of new talent.
Coming together in the late 1990s, The Dips formed like Voltron and played a huge part in changing the mixtape game in 2002, ahead of the 2003 debut album, Diplomatic Immunity, via Roc-A-Fella Records. The project rang off for the whole summer—it was a banger-filled double disc stacked with sped-up soul samples architected by the Heatmakerz. It was hard to go anywhere without hearing “Who Am I,” “Real Niggas,” “More Than Music,” “Dipset Anthem,” “I Really Mean It,” “My Love,” “I’m Ready,” and “What’s Really Good”—the OG version, with the Coming to America sample—blasting out of car windows.
After leaving the Roc for then indie giant Koch, the Harlem crew kept the ball rolling with Diplomatic Immunity 2 the following November, picking up auxiliary members Hell Rell, 40 Cal. and J.R. Writer.
Dipset just swagged different. In that brief run, they turned the American flag—and all of its wearable iterations—into a fashion statement. They unapologetically repurposed pink and made it en vogue, all while flipping gang signs and putting Harlem World on their backs with an abrasive yet stylishly Uptown M.O. Diplomats put its fingerprint on the culture. Then, the fallout happened.
Around 2007, rumors that a rift had formed between group members Cam’ron and Jones began circulating. Things were further exacerbated when Capo and Juelz appeared onstage with Cam's then-nemesis, 50 Cent. "You can't get mad at me for not picking sides,” Juelz said in an interview with XXL in 2008. “My whole thing was making sure the bird was still flying out there and that people could listen to the Diplomats however they could."
When pressed about whether there were any talks of a reunion back then, Santana responded, "Honestly, I can't even answer that question right now. Like I said, there has been tension but hopefully it will all turn over."
For nearly a decade, a reunion has been teased with things partially coming into fruition via live performances and new tracks, then conversely falling apart with friends turning into frienemies again, and everything in between.
Now with the Dips all on the same page for the first time in years, and finally on the verge of dropping the new Diplomatic Ties album on Nov. 22, XXL dives back into the past and chronicles the long flight back for the Bird Gang.
After two years of disputes, tension and individual drama, Cam'ron says things are being worked out behind the scenes to get the gang back together.
"Realistically, we working out business," Cam said. "Me and Jim are speaking. I don't want people to think me and Jim aren't speaking We speak a few times a week. Right now, we talking out the business. The deal is on the table. But until the business gets situated..."
Dipset has a studio session with the legendary Dr. Dre. The collaboration is put together by Jimmy Iovine, who is reportedly in talks with the group about signing them to Interscope Records.
Dipset officially sets differences aside, reuniting at the 2010 BET Hip Hop Awards. With tons of celebs in the crowd, Cam, Jim, Zekey and Santana perform the new track, "Salute."
With nothing solid in place several months after their initial reunion performance, Jim Jones gives fans an update on the album.
“Currently in motion, we been working . . . it hasn’t been going as fast as we’d like it to go because everybody got so much business that they’re doing aside from where we left it,” Jones told XXL about the current state of the Diplomats album. “But we definitely been locking in. Shout outs to Cam, shout outs to Juelz, shout outs to Freekey Zekey. Everybody’s on board. We actually working on the Diplomat movie.”
He adds, “Our success and road to success has been filled with a lot of ups and downs. It’s kind of like an action flick if you Google us and read all the news clippings and everything that’s been going on while we been on TV. It should be a good movie.”
The Dips come together and rock a sold-out show at Manhattan’s Best Buy Theater, the last show of Red Bull Music Academy’s Five Out of Five tour of New York City's five boroughs.
“We love it,” Freekey tells XXL. “It’s always good to be on that stage. The crowd still love us.”
Cam, Jim, Juelz and Zekey come together for a show at B.B. Kings in New York City to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the release of their debut album, Diplomatic Immunity. On top of performing the hits, the group brings out Lloyd Banks and Waka Flocka Flame.
Cam'ron teams with A-Trak on the new cut "Dipshits." The video features cameos from Juelz and Freekey and the Santana chorus of, "I know you miss this/It's still Dipset you dipshits," proving the crew is still solid.
Fans do a collective Tiger Woods fist pump upon hearing news from Funkmaster Flex that Dipset is going on a five-city Pledge of Allegiance Tour and dropping a mixtape at the coclusion. A few day later, the group drops the new song "Have My Money."
As promised, the crew comes through with the mixtape American Dream, though it's more of a compilation and less of the full Dipset project that fans were expecting. The project features Cam'ron, Juelz Santana, Freekey Zekey, Sen City, Vado, Lil Wayne, Yo Gotti, Dave East, Hell Rell, Styles P, Webstar, Chinx, Rowdy Rebel, Young Scooter and more.
Yet days before Thanksgiving 2017, the group surprisingly reunites once again at Spotify's RapCaviar concert at Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC. The showcase also features A$AP Mob.
The Harlem boys come together again on the new single "Once Upon a Time." Days later, the Dips, sans Cam, appear on MTV's newly-relaunched TRL and announce they are putting together a new project. A documentary is in the works as well. "We working on a Dipset docu-EP right now, so, it will be very dope—slash movie, slash seven songs," Capo says.
The reunion seems to be on and popping as the Bird Gang takes the show on the road for the Dipset Forever Tour, a 17-city jaunt that sees them touch down in cities like New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago.