Live: Dipset Brings Pandemonium To The Best Buy Theater

The Diplomats & Vado Best Buy Theater Friday, September 30

Better than: Waiting for the next big NYC hip-hop collective to appear.

"It ain't over! Fuck y'all talkin' about?" Cam'ron emphatically declared at one point during Friday night's celebration of the Diplomats' debut Diplomatic Immunity. He was right. The Diplomats—Cam, Jim Jones, Juelz Santana and Freekey Zekey—have managed to reign as one of NYC's definitive hip-hop groups, despite in-fighting and a relatively limited body of work.

Accompanied by a cavalcade of onstage goons that added members throughout the night and a live band that remained curiously silent until his set's very end, Jim Jones opened the night with a set of his own songs ("G's Up," "Harlem") and his verses on "Day N Nite" and "Walk It Out." His claim to fame, the anthem "We Fly High," was notably purged from the set list; perhaps even he has grown tired of the overused chorus and slam dunk-inspired hand gesture. At one point, buzzy Harlem newcomer ASAP Rocky came out to perform cuts like "Peso," but his reliance on unnecessary hype men and (ugh!) stage diving proved that further incubation is needed before the crown can be passed.

Juelz Santana followed with his own set of songs and guest verses. The dimpled ladies' man of the group, his female-centric "There It Go (Whistle Song)", "Clockwork" and "Oh Yes"—the latter of which features a delightful "Please Mr. Postman" sample—played better than his harder fare. This was followed with a brief and somewhat humorous intermission featuring a very muscular and shirtless Freekey Zekey, grinding and thrusting onstage.

Finally, Cam'ron, outfitted in a black tee emblazoned with the word "SLIME," took the microphone and proved why he's still the head of The Diplomats. Cam injected a much-needed jolt of energy into the crowd with the drug-slinging tales of "Get It in Ohio" to the hilariously sexual "Wet Wipes". His Non sequiturs and punchy, one-liners seem evergreen and my favorite from "Get 'Em Girls" still got a chuckle: "I rock mostly Dolce/ I roll mostly doly/ 
I'll leave you holey, holey/you'll say 'Holy Moly.'" Protégé Vado was brought out for an entertaining show of simpatico back-and-forth on "Hey Muma" and "Speaking in Tongues," but all eyes were on Cam.

All the members returned to the stage for undeniably hard-hitting "Dipset Anthem" and "I Really Mean It" from Diplomatic Immunity, as well as more superfluous collaborations. By this point, the loud backing vocals mixed with live keys and drums and the onslaught of some hundred hangers-on (including one guy in a wheelchair who kept flexing his bicep muscles), turned the stage into utter pandemonium. This cacophony would be critically deplorable in most cases—but with Dipset, it's expected. After all, the perceived insanity is nothing more than the result of four friends from Harlem rapping and having a good time.

Critical bias: Appreciation for Cam'ron is tantamount to musical taste in my book. Let's just say failing to do so has ended many a first date.

Overheard: "That's some old shit. That's some me and Cam shit."—Jim Jones, prematurely likening ASAP Rocky to Dipset.

Random notebook dump: What kind of hip-hop show starts on time?!

Set lists:
Jim Jones: Day 'n' Nite remix G's Up Harlem Walk It Out remix So Cold Peso (ASAP Rocky) ??? (ASAP Rocky) The Dope Boyz Perfect Day

Juelz Santana: More Gansta Music I Can't Feel My Face??? Murda Murda Swag Surfing remix Mic Check Oh Yes S.A.N.T.A.N.A. Make It Work for You There It Go (Whistle Song) Clockwork Back to the Crib ??? Beamer, Benz, or Bentley

Cam'ron: Live My Life Get 'Em Girls The ROC (Just Fire) Wet Wipes Down and Out Get It in Ohio Speaking in Tongues (with Vado) We All Up In Here (with Vado) Hard In the Paint freestyle (Vado) Hey Muma (with Vado) Suck It or Not

Dipset: Dipset Anthem Salute Dipset (Santana's Town) 848 I Really Mean It

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