April 08, 2009 @ 4:45 pm

Jadakiss: The Last Kiss

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On his latest, J-to-the-muah doesn't want to leave his lane

The Last Kiss (Def Jam)

Jadakiss wants his haters to pucker up. A chunky catalogue dating back to his entry into the rap game with Bad Boy and his crew, the L.O.X. Constant mentions in the Top 5 Dead or Alive debate as a soloist. Innumerable scene-stealing verses. These are just a few of the credits that make Jadakiss one of hip hop's elite lyricists. However, a glaring omission on his curriculum vitae is a lack of mainstream recognition, save for his hit "Why?" from his sophomore album Kiss of Death (Interscope, 2004). With his latest long player, The Last Kiss, the Yonkers heat spitter’s exquisite rhymes again get lost in an overabundance of boilerplate attempts at hits. 

When Kiss rocks in his lane, he is almost infallible. "Stays hot I ain't gotta get my buzz back / what everybody trying to be now / I was that," he spits  on the horn-laden, "Can't Stop Me," which seamlessly combines his cocksure delivery with a radio-ready melody. On “Grind Hard,” Jada connects with fellow Y.O. native Mary J. Blige, whose searing vocals make the song a possible anthem for anyone who isn’t recession proof but remains ambitious. Then there are slick talk-filled entries like the Buckwild-produced “Pain & Torture,” which showcase that all the savvy vet needs is his wit and a knocking instrumental to get his point across, and make a hot song.

But for Jadakiss to elevate his work consistently he’ll need to step outside his comfort zone, which he rarely does. Many of the album’s go-to collaborations look like big swings on paper but are misses in execution. Swizz Beatz provides dull horns on the limp "Who's Real," while the Nas-assisted "What If" is a rote re-hash of “Why?” Even the guest list appears scattershot: Inviting Young Jeezy to bless “Something Else” or Styles P to tag team “One More Step” are no brainers, but OJ Da Juiceman appearing on "Who's Real" or the plethora of R&B crooners (Avery Storm on “I Tried”, Jazmine Sullivan on “Smoking Gun”) reek of mainstream pandering.

Jadakiss is a strong enough artist that collaborating with formidable MCs— i.e. Raekwon and Ghostface on "Cartel Gathering" or Lil Wayne on “Death Wish”—only bolsters his own talent. But at this point in his career ‘Kiss would have been better served asserting his Rap mettle for self as he does on contemplative “Things I’ve Been Through.” Fans deserve to hear more Jadakiss, less filler.

"The Last Kiss" is in stores 04/08/09

Track listing for The Last Kiss

1. “Pain & Torture”
2. “Can’t Stop Me” feat. Ayanna Irish
3. “Who's Real” feat. Swizz Beatz and OJ Da Juiceman
4. “Grind Hard” feat. Mary J. Blige
5. “Something Else” feat. Young Jeezy
6. “One More Step” feat. Styles P
7. “Stress” Ya feat. Pharrell Williams
8. “What If” feat. Nas
9. “Things I’ve Been Through”
10.  “I Tried” feat. Avery Storm
11. “Rocking With the Best” feat. Pharrell Williams
12. “Smoking Gun” feat. Jazmine Sullivan
13. “Cartel Gathering” feat. Ghostface Killah and Raekwon
14. “Come & Get Me” feat. Sheek Louch & S.I.
15. “By My Side” feat. Ne-Yo
16. “Letter to B.I.G.” feat. Faith Evans
17. “Something Else (Remix)” feat. Young Jeezy, Snyp Life, Bully, A.P., Blood Raw
18. “Death Wish” feat. Lil Wayne

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