Jadakiss, Kiss of Death (2004)
In press interviews for his new album, Kiss of Death, Jadakiss, a member of the Lox, has asserted that he wants to be considered one of the greatest MCs of all time. Though it seems like hollow bravado, the fact that New York’s hip-hop community take his statements seriously is an indication of the amount of respect he gets there. But his profile is due to his singular talents as a technically-proficient rapper, not as an artist; his debut album, Kiss the Game Goodbye, was wildly uneven in its attempts to please both mass (the Neptunes-produced “Knock Yourself Out”) and underground (the Alchemist banger “We Gonna Make It”) audiences. Kiss of Death is a minor improvement, and Jadakiss gamely tries to inject some pathos into his famously cold-blooded approach. There’s the lead single, “Why,” a series of questions that range from the earnest (“If it’s all love, daddy, why did you come with your nine?”) to the ridiculous (“Why did they come up with witness protection?”). Most of all, he constantly predicts his ascension, dropping lyrical hints such as “Bring You Down’s” “Trust me, this album, the vapors going to go around” as if they were subliminal messages. Producers include Mobb Deep’s Havoc on “Why” (with chorus by Anthony Hamilton), Scott Storch on “U Make Me Wanna” (chorus by Mariah Carey) and “Time’s Up” (chorus by Nate Dogg), and many others. Guests include Jadakiss’ crew the Lox, which was in the process of changing its name to D-Block to avoid contractual obligations with Bad Boy Records; and Kanye West, who produces and adds a guest verse to “Gettin’ It In.” Ruff Ryders/Interscope.