Yonkers bred rap lyricist Jadakiss is in a hurry. As he preps to drop his sophomore album, Kiss of Death the follow up to his near platinum debut Kiss Tha Game Goodbye, he has his thoughts firmly placed on the business of delivering his new album, with an eye towards the future. "This is the one right here. I know everybody says that, but I don't plan on really doing this that much longer. I'm trying to go behind the scenes," says Jadakiss.
However, while his thoughts allude to calling it a career (doubtful), his actions speak to the contrary. The past year has found Jadakiss continually in rap listener's ears via a slew of stand out, cameo verses. With rap fans notoriously impatient when artists have long hiatus between albums, the importance of a rapper staying on the radar between albums is essential. "No matter what budget is being opened or what's going on in the office, you gotta keep your head above water in the street," explains Jadakiss. "You always gotta find out what's coming out, hop on the hot R&B song or a remix or even do a hot featuring with another rapper."
Whether it's on mixtapes, appearing on The LOX brethren's solo album or guest spots, the streets never have to hunt very far for the next scorching Jadakiss verse. The past year alone has found him riding shotgun and spitting alongside rap heavyweights that include Nas ("Made You Look (Remix)"), Jennifer Lopez ("Jenny from the Block"), Ghostface ("Run") and Gang Starr ("Rite Where You Stand"). Besides the stand out verses, Jada also caught the acting bug appearing in the feature film Honey with Mekhi Phifer and Jessica Alba, the BET film Ryde or Die with Vivica Fox and Duane Martin as well as appearing on label mates hit TV show EVE (UPN).
An exhaustive portfolio but it's all old hat for Jadakiss, after all, he is a rap veteran in all definitions of the word. In the mid-nineties he was a member of the Bad Boy Records family with his group The LOX, formerly The Warlocks. When the relationship eventually soured, the grade school buddies Jadakiss (Jason Phillips), Styles (David Styles) and Sheek (Sean Jacobs), in a sense, returned home to become part of the Ruff Ryders Records family. Besides stellar contributions to three Ruff Ryders compilations, the group released an album We Are The Streets, as well as solo offerings from Jadakiss (Kiss Tha Game Goodbye) and Styles (A Gangster and a Gentleman). Now, the focus is another album from Jadakiss, which the streets have been screaming for. "If anybody ever followed my career, I was always categorized as one of the top spitters, my rough voice, and my delivery set me aside from everyone else. It just seemed like it was always something missing...But this time I'm going to make sure all the chips are in place."
Where Kiss Tha Game Goodbye was a critically acclaimed debut that confirmed Jada's ability to hold down an album for self, Kiss of Death will further establish Kiss as one of the rap game's elite lyricist. "I learned about trying different things," is what Jadakiss says occurred between albums, besides the song cameos and acting gigs. "Champions make champions. You can't be scared to try different songs. It ain't all about just punchlines and all that now. Em, 50 and DMX, all these people, they switched it. They made the listeners really want to hear what you feel as an artist and as a person. They don't want to hear a bunch of fantasizing and a bunch of lying."
Indeed, Kiss of Death is packed with enough variety to please die-hard Jadakiss fans and to invite newcomers to become acquainted with his sound as well. Jadakiss is no longer a brash emcee with far flung aspirations to Hip-Hop's throne, but a savvy veteran with legit claims to the crown. Produced by Havoc (Mobb Deep) and featuring soul crooner Anthony Hamilton, the retrospective song and single, "Why" is the album's most personal song. "It's just asking why to a lot of things I think a lot of people all over the world might want to know," says Jadakiss. "Kiss of Death" produced by Red Spyda is a verbal spitfest with Jada's ".38 revolver flow" anchored by industrial sized bass, distorted low end and a quick paced drum track. "Written in the Stars" finds Jada tag teaming apocalyptic horns and gut quivering bass with his LOX co-d, Styles P. Throughout the album, almost every rhyme is to be analyzed for fear of missing the punch line, whether subtle or blatant as on the Scott Storch produced "Times Up" featuring Nate Dogg, where he spits, "F--k riding the beat nigga, I parallel park on the track." Meanwhile, production from both neophyte and established producers including The Neptunes, and Kanye West, raise the album's temperature to the boiling point.
Jadakiss has endured all the requisites for success in the rap game. He's been through a bum record deal, released a solid debut album, is the star player of a team that keeps him on his toes and has support from a strong label home. "I persevered through all the eras, the B.I.G. era, the Nas, the Hov, all of them. I'm still here. People think I'm still hot. They still know I'm hot, so I put in enough work. I feel like it's time. It's more than time."
Indeed, at one point Jada has collaborated with each of the aforementioned Hip-Hop kings sans Tupac (but he did appear on the posthumous Tupac song "Homeboyz II"). It's no longer a question of if but when Jadakiss will be canonized in the Hip-Hop history books as one of the all time greats. With arguably the hottest rapper in the game co-signing his pedigree ("I'm the hardest from New York, my flow is bonkers, All the other hard niggaz, they come from Yonkers"–50 Cent, Back Down) it seems that the industry, the streets are a no-brainer, is catching on to Jadakiss brand of concrete Hip-Hop. Ultimately, it's the listeners that inspire Jada to continues, which makes his desire to move "behind the scenes" unlikely since he has much more music to create, for Hip-Hop's sake.
"I feel like I make therapy," says Jadakiss. "People say incredible sh-- when they come up to me. 'You don't know how much I felt that like right there or you know...' It's therapy for the listeners. That's the best part of the whole shit, touching the human soul." Pucker up.
--- from the official Jadakiss website