Jim Jones made his legend both as a member of Dipset and as one of New York City’s biggest solo stars. Yet, the Harlem rep is also well respected for his ear and eye when it comes to discovering new talent, which prompted Atlantic Records to place him in an executive A&R role during the late aughts. One of Jones’ biggest regrets during that period is missing out on the opportunity to sign a then-undiscovered Drake, which he spoke on in a clip that recently resurfaced.
“Drake definitely ran across my desk,” Jones recalls. “I got a call from [music executive] Alan Grunblatt. I think I was on tour, and Alan was like, ‘I got this guy named Drake, he’s an actor, he’s on Degrassi.’” From there, Jones shares his immediate reaction to Grunblatt’s pitch, adding, “I’m like, ‘Who the f**k is Drake on Degrassi?’ He let me hear him rapping, like, this boy could rap his a** off.”
Despite being impressed with his lyrical ability, Jones says Drake’s non-threatening background as a child actor and his own doubts of being able to market him deterred him from taking Grunblatt up on his offer: “Then I looked at him, I’m like, ‘Boy, what do you mean? What am I going to do with boy? He’s an actor, he’s in a wheelchair on the Disney Channel.’ I’m like, ‘Boy, I don’t know how to make this work out.’”
As fate would have it, Drake would ultimately sign with Lil Wayne and Young Money and become a runaway sensation a few years later and even brought out the Diplomats to perform on the New York stop of his Club Paradise Tour back in 2012. No love is lost between the two, though, as Jones recently explained why he feels that Drake is the only rap artist capable of going head-to-head with Jay-Z in a Verzuz battle.
“The person I would say that would put up the best fight, it would be Drake hands down,” Jones revealed. “I know that Drake hasn’t been here for the duration that Jay has been but Drake has put out platinum hits every time he’s put a record out and we all know that every single one of Drake’s hits for the past 10 to some odd years that he’s been in this game, which is a long stretch doing music, and he’s breaking a lot of records when it comes to entries. When it comes to 20 hits, I think that Drake would be the top candidate to jump into the ring with Jay.”