For those unfamiliar with the National Recording Registry, it is an extensive compilation of recordings that “are culturally, historically, or aesthetically important, and/or inform or reflect life in the United States,” as indicated by the Library of Congress. In it, one would peruse the already expected precious catalog and find the likes of Marvin Gaye, The Doors, Prince and even Tupac Shakur, as esteemed selections. And though respectable is this list, there is one glaring flaw searing right through me – no Dipset. Yes, the National Recording History has pulled the equivalent of claiming you love A Tribe Called Quest, yet acting brand new when the name Jarobi is mentioned. So, in my earnest interest to help get The Diplomats into the National Recording Registry, and in appropriate coincidence with Durag History Week, I present to all, the pinnacle of Dipset glory – Cam and his cohorts taking over Rap City: Tha Basement. Harlem World, stand up.
“I’ma count money, I’ma count cash money…”
As the sample keys from Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway’s “Be Real Black For Me” adorn the classic Scarface joint, “My Block”, Cam’ron, leader of the almighty Diplomats, prefaces us with exactly what he plans to do with a large stack of money for the next two and a half minutes before he grabs the mic, only to proverbially drop it with a vintage Killa lyrical flourish.
And with that sampling, you have already gotten the aura and unmatched bombastic swagger that epitomized all things Dipset. See, this ephemeral confidence not only shown with Cam’ron, because as you can see in the first two verses, Jim Jones and a seemingly post-pubescent Juelz Santana waved that flag just as high and just as mightily through playful lyrical jaunts about life in these cold Harlem streets and just how ’bout it these gents are about their lifestyle.
“Y’all messing with some gangstas, riders, 9/11 survivors. If you still want beef, then holla.”
Juelz place in the lineup is already solidified as the next best in line with the first bar alone, representing the crew properly with a line that exerts a fiercely New York mentality and hometown pride that The Dipset swept the world over with in the early to mid 2000’s. That unabashedly spirited, native-borne character, was oozing a bravado that the scene had not witnessed before. These dudes had swag before swag had even entered the lexicons of New Boyz and Odd Future neophytes everywhere. Sure, we’ve seen the typically ubiquitous New York crew bragging about the gangsta life, money and girls a hundred times over. But were they having as much fun as The Diplomats when doing so? Were they rocking pink with an impudence and fortitude that only a panther could relate to? Katt Williams said it best with one dismissive, “Don’t worry, I’ll wait.”
“I don’t care, I put the flame in the fire. Christian, atheist, pray to Allah, just don’t play okay. Just pray I don’t snipe ya.”
Which now brings us to Cam’ron’s verse. Per his usual, he was spitting bars and speaking flames by way of wordplay that was comically complex and absurdly intricate. The man was styling on the whole game, waving a scepter of greenbacks and addressing his subjects as the one true Killa, licking off shots of double entendres that went over most average rap fans’ heads.
This was classic material. Timeless, even. Right on par with the suppleness of Kenan Thompson’s and Pharrell’s countenances. It’s 2015 and this freestyle video has over 1.6 million views. If we’re talking enduring legacy that spills into ostensibly perpetual contemporary relevancy, The Diplomats have got it. Their deft ability to balance their hardened street exploits with an infectious fun and revelry was unmatched, a mastery that was chess to everyone else’s checkers.
So get it right National Recording Registry. The Diplomats need to be remembered indelibly within your vaunted catalog. They’ll fit in fine – raucous hotel parties with the Stones, cyphers of lyrical fitness with De La Soul and Public Enemy, peacocking with Jimi Hendrix, slaying dames with ‘Ol Blue Eyes and Pac. Yep, like hand in glove. It’s only right they get such due honor.