The DipSet movement has quickly taken hold, not only in the world of hip-hop but in popular culture as well. From Kurt Angle’s subtle use of the Presidential eagle as part of his attire, to the reported movements of copy-cat gangs in the NYC and the proliferation of slang-terms of their coinage, the crew’s well boffo. Diplomatic Affairs is not really a DipSet release, but is rather a mixtape compiled by Mr. E of Tha RPS Fam (“aka the German Luger”), another up-and-coming European crew.
The mixtape is hosted by the newest Diplomats, SAS, brothers Mega and Mayhem, second-generation Nigerian immigrants to Britain. After moving to the US in 1998, SAS (or “Strictly About Stackin’”) settled in Staten Island and made their battle-bones across New York before signing to DipSet/ Roc-A-Fella in 2003 and turning up on State Property II and Diplomatic Immunity II. Memphis Bleek, who’s not known for hyping bad rappers, is quoted on Wikipedia as saying “Mega and Mayhem were the only unsigned artists to ever come into Marcy projects and completely shut it down.”
SAS and their confederates in “DipSet Euro” are part of what could be the music story of 2006, which is the formal entrance of global hip-hop into the US market. There have been plenty of very talented British rappers in the game, from the Streets to Slick Rick, but none have had a big-selling album in the US market as it’s currently formulated. (Even Tricky, for example, blew up under vastly different market conditions.) That will change soon, and everyone seems to know it. Because of its proximity to the US and the close historic ties, the British rappers will pop first, and then we’ll see other talents from other nations slowly incorporated into mass perception of “underground” hip-hop.
Diplomats are just one of the industry leaders moving to literally “shore-up” their position by bringing in SAS, as Def Jam did by signing Lady Sovereign. Music issues aside, this is a matter of economics and propaganda, as hip-hop is arguably America’s most indispensable promotional device, just as jazz was for most of the 20th century.
The first song, “It’s Working” by Maino, features a beat that sounds like something TI would like, but coupled with a catchy kiddie sing-song hook: “Brooklyn, we don’t die/ What we do, little nigga?/ We multiply/ That cash flow ain’t gon’ stop/ The Cristal still gon’ pop.” It’s a good start to an uneven project. “Bust My Gun” is a nice reworking of Eazy-E, with a Remy Ma verse thrown in. Again, the hook is ridiculous.
Host SAS cuts a promo leading into Jae Millz and Jadakiss on “Bring It Back”. The latter acknowledges his low sales for Kiss of Death: “Powerful impact, boom from the cannon/ I’m strong in the hood, I’m alright on the scannin’/ Figure my next joint should do at least double, but right now I’m tryin’ to get at mami with the bubble.” SAS comes in with Haze for “Bad Boys”, followed by Papoose’s instant classic “Body Bluffin”, which is like “The Vapors” for the 21st century. Hoss’ “Cocaine Flow” continues the theme.
Like any good mixtape, there’s a wide variety of rhyme styles; the famous mix with the obscure, but it all retains a fairly fresh feel. Highlights include: Raptile, Cronite and Lioness do well by themselves on the remix of “Barrio”; Murda Mook gets straight nihilistic on “No Beef”. Amplafire teams with The Clipse on “Get It”; Project GNSS reps New York hard on the exclusive “NY NY”; tracks from Bossman, Cashmere, Icarus, Jay Bezel, Littles, Lord Tariq feat. Rover and Red Café. Even Da Backwudz show up with SlimThug on “U Gotta Love Me (RPS remix)”.
More than the mixer, Mr. E gets his time on the mic, as well. He opens up “Money Cash Hoes 2006 (blend)”, featuring Bleek, Cronite and big bossman S. Carter; he also rhymes on “Blaze Da Haze” with Stagga Lee and a remix of SAS’ “Don’t Even Think About It”.
Of course, you gotta have your DipSet tracks. Cam’ron and Jim Jones turn up on “My Hood” and “Girls”, while Juelz Santana teams with SAS for an unreleased remix of “Gangsta Shit”—a big selling point. SAS does a half-dozen drops inbetween the tracks, but it’s the outro—shout-outs over a sped-up mix of “We Are the Champions”—that seals the deal. Like all mixtapes, Diplomatic Affairs is a mixed bag, but there’s enough good stuff here to make it worth checking out. DipSet marks will like it special.
// Notes from the Road
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