This is powerful music that they brought to the people

“Two more, for Cam, for taking over the Roc!”

I’m old–or rather, I feel old.

Diplomatic Immunity turned 10 years old on March 25. Wait, what? There aren’t many things that can age a 27-year-old, but the fact that this album was released 10 years ago is one of these things.

Diplomatic Immunity, the creation of Cam’Ron, Juelz Santana, and the entire DipSet crew, is a classic. It’s a classic and, while it ages me, it really hasn’t aged one bit.  But I’ll get to whatever it is that makes this album a classic in a bit. For now, I’ll mention that the album, and its lead single DipSet Anthem, was the perfect follow-up to Cam’Ron’s Oh Boy. That single came on Come Home With Me, a solo Cam’Ron album that was also the group’s first foray into the mainstream consciousness.

The recipe wasn’t quite perfect for that solo album, but it all came together perfectly on Diplomatic Immunity. That’s why Juelz raps, “Two more, for Cam, for taking over the Roc,” on DipSet Anthem. In March 2003, The Diplomats ruled the world—and it all started with the video for DipSet Anthem.

That video, which included part of I Really Mean It, changed my life, and I don’t mean this in any light way. I was 17 years old when the video first aired, and it was unlike anything I had ever heard. Ever. Not then, and I probably still haven’t heard anything like it yet. The bass. The soul. The drums. Those all hit hard.

Diplomatic Immunity, and The Diplomats themselves for that matter, came at the perfect time. In 2003, the album had a lot of things going for it. Cam’Ron was the old man, the one with the established name…and the pink shirt, the one who could rap that, “Golly I’m gully,” and everyone would agree how dope this was. Juelz Santana was the young blood, the one who constantly reached and got away with it, the one who now oddly reminds me of Jalen Rose. I didn’t get, then, how ridiculous, over-the-top, silly, stupid and foolish their lyrics were. Cam’Ron, Juelz, Jim Jones, and other DipSet rappers like Hell Rell, Freekey Zekey, aren’t world beaters, but they have great mic presence, are entertaining and funny. Their lyrics are vulgar, even stupid at times, but when have rappers exactly been about uplifting and the betterment of the self? A few are, of course, but the norm tends to be the rapper who wants to spit some nonsense about how fly he is.

I’d probably say that The Diplomats are underrated lyricists since so many insist on how often they say outrageous things and overlook their genius. Not everyone needs to rhyme like Canibus—The Diplomats understood that, and never pretended that they could.

DipSet Anthem remains the group’s finest work. I Really Mean It is the second song of that combo single, and it might be the absolute greatest creation of Just Blaze’s career—and Just Blaze is a first ballot Hall of Fame producer. The Heatmakerz, comprised of Rsonist and Thrilla, created the instrumental to DipSet Anthem and they’re the reason why The Diplomats’ formula worked so well.

And on Diplomatic Immunity, The Heatmakerz were at the apex of their powers. The duo isn’t my favourite producing act of all-time, but their run with DipSet just might be my favourite of anyone ever. (It’s between theirs and Kanye West’s current one.) Their run started with Cam’Ron’s Boy Boy and Come Home With Me, included DipSet Anthem, Juelz’s Monster Music, and Hell Rell’s Back in the Building, and ended on Juelz’s Daddy and Shottas. What makes The Heatmakerz so great is that they’re a mix of so much. They’re part Havoc in that their beats are so goddamn filthy and grimy. And yet, they’re also Kanye, because their beats are all so incredibly soulful. And they’re also DJ Premier, because their creations are loops–dope as hell and simple enough.

And it all came together perfect for Diplomatic Immunity. If there’s nothing better than the instrumental to DipSet Anthem, there’s a whole lot of other quality still. Diplomatic Immunity has 27 songs spread over two discs, and it’s worth every second. More Than MusicWho Am II’m Ready, or Purple Haze would all be the crown jewel of a producer’s career. And they’re all all second fiddle to DipSet Anthem on this album. It’s DipSet. It’s more than what you people call music.

If you call me on my cellphone, you’ll hear it. The horns. The drums. The soul. The bass. “Yeah. DipSet. Come on.” It’s Juelz who says that, though it might as well be me. DipSet Anthem is my ringtone. It’s 10 years old, and I’m 27 years young.