Jim Jones: From 110th to B’Way

jimjonesmonoSo last night I had the opportunity to check out the return of Hip Hop Monologues: Inside the Life & Mind of Jim Jones here in NYC. Not that I really wanted to go inside the life and mind of Jim Jones, but since my relationship with him varies between love and “ugh,” I thought that I would give it a run and see just what exactly what Joseph Guillermo Jones had in mind when it came to the theataaahhhhh. All in all, I was impressed.
What was essentially a creative way to market his album for press and industry heads back in November of 2008, Hip Hop Monologues got a creative kick when Jones partnered with actor and director J.Kyle Manzay (The Actor’s Rap) to bring the project back onstage, just in time for the release of his new album, “Pray IV Reign,” which the script essentially brings to life. Held at the intimate 37 Arts Space, the same venue as Fela!, viewers get to see a part of Jim that they may already know, but in an entirely new fashion. {A sneak peek after the jump.}

Essentially, it is the quintessential hustler’s story. The beginning (the hood, no father, ‘product of my environment’), the low point (jail!) and the redemption (a second chance, birth). In it, Jim returns to his East Harlem stomping grounds to confront his past: a preacher/judge/voice of reason (played by Ben Chavis), the mother of his son, hood rivals and even himself as a boy. While the story isn’t new, the concept and presentation is funny, refreshing and entertaining—better than any packed club concert. Take away the random entourage onstage and smokey venues, Jim at the core is a crowd-pleaser, and onstage he rhymes for most of the time, but his acting chops are solid and commendable. I didn’t get any flashback of Nas in Belly, which is a good sign. I could have done without the theatrical rendition of “Pop Champagne” at the end, but seeing Juelz come out sans bandanna was a nice touch.

Overall, if you are looking for a unique and humorous way to start the evening, with a dose of hip-hop, and good crowd/people watching, Hip Hop Monologues: Inside the Life & Mind of Jim Jones is the way to go. It won’t change your life, but it will make you chuckle.

Random Notes

– Jim walks out onstage wearing a Batman fitted and jacket…are we bringing that back? Really, lol?

– He manages to rhyme while doing push-ups, 2 points for breath control.

– Om’Mas of SA-RA is the musical director, 2 more points. Live band is an added plus.

– Spotted in the crowd: Baron Davis, Russell Simmons, Dame Dash

– Whose idea was it to use a f*$#ing pillow as a preggers prop? Epic fail for the production. She didn’t look pregnant, she looked weird. LIKE SHE HAD A PILLOW IN HER SHIRT.

– Good set design, solid transitions between acts, good supporting crew

– Playbill and promo artwork is good.

– Go HU!

A scene from Hip Hop Monologues:


Hip Hop Monologues: Inside the Life & Mind of Jim Jones

37 Arts Theatre: 450 W. 37th street (btw 9th & 10th)

Date: March 24th – March 28th

Curtain Call: 8:00 PM (8:00 PM and 10:00 PM shows available Saturday 3/28)

Tickets: $40.00 available Ticketmaster and box office

Starring: Jim Jones

Directed by: J. Kyle Manzay

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