In the early 2000s, Harlem's Diplomats crew was in the upper echelon of East Coast rap, not just commercially (Cam'ron's "Oh Boy" and "Hey Ma" both hit the top 5 of Billboard's Hot 100) and in terms of clout (a brief but notable group affiliation with Jay-Z's Roc-A-Fella Records) but creatively. Cam'ron's unpredictable and offbeat lyricism combined club-friendly conspicuous consumption, hood-ready toughness and enough tongue-twisting agility in his flow to catch respect from even the most anti-pop hip hop heads. Other members of Dipset had similar success -- Jim Jones with "We Fly High" and Juelz Santana with "There It Go (The Whistle Song)" chief amongst them -- but late-decade creative differences and the three-year incarceration of member Freekey Zekey put the crew on the back burner for a while. A Diplomats reunion has been considered one of those "they said it couldn't be done" situations, but a recent deal with Interscope and word of a third [i]Diplomatic Immunity[/i] album -- not to mention tonight's show -- aim to prove otherwise.
Fri., March 18, 10 p.m., 2011