The Last Kiss (released April 7, 2009)
"Only a matter of time before they notice that I'm an impeccable lyricist/And with the right mechanics I could take over, be clear of this" - Jadakiss, "Letter to B.I.G."
I hesitated to write this review - I wasn't sure if the GeorgiaMae universe cared about Jadakiss.
I know for sure that kids these days don't.
One of the teens in my church youth group wanted to me listen to The-Dream's new album. I replied that I'd rather listen to Rush Limbaugh pass gas in my face for 45 minutes. I told him that I was waiting for Jadakiss' new album to drop, and I got another lecture about listening to "old man rap."
Jada would be disappointed to hear that because it's obvious that he geared this album toward the young'ns. Sort of.
Jadakiss has long been considered one of rap's best kept secrets. He's been around for well over ten years, has released some really good material, but never quite gets the shine he deserves. This go-round, with the backing of Def Jam and Roc-A-Fella, I think he feels he has the marketing tools to finally break out.
But in this sense, "breaking out" means sucking up to the kids. And there is a lot of pampering to the Pamper set here. For instance, "Who's Real" actually has the nerve to steal the chorus from "if you're happy and you know it clap your hands!" To his credit, unlike most ringtone rappers, Jada doesn't dumb down his grimy flow to match the silly song. So in the end, things end up a schizophrenic mess. Likewise, on "Rocking With The Best," it almost sounds like he's trying to make one of those Stanky Legg-like dance tracks, complete with instructions.
And while I don't usually have a problem with rappers teaming up with R&B singers, there's WAY too much of it here. Mary J. Blige, Jazmine Sullivan, Ne-Yo and others make for some sappy material.
The one standout in the R&B crowd is Faith Evans on "Letter to B.I.G.", one of the best tribute songs I've heard for the late, great Notorious B.I.G. Jada even shows Biggie's kids some love: "T'yanna so pretty/and CJ turned into a lil' Biggie/just a lil' lighter but so witty." Jada waxing nostalgic over a Luther Vandross sample on "Things I've Been Through" is a keeper too.
That's how I like my Jadakiss - lyrical like the old days. There are flashes of that here, especially when he teams with Ghostface and Raekwon on "Cartel Gathering." And even though "What If" is a blatant ripoff of his old hit "Why?" he and Nas still bring killer punchlines. I think Jada gets inspired when going toe-to-toe with fellow rap luminaries. Sadly, the tracks featuring his LOX teammates Styles P and Sheek Louch aren't as memorable.
I certainly can understand a talented veteran reaching for a new audience. Jay-Z, Eminem and all the greats did it eventually. But Jada just sounds so out of place when he tries to go mainstream.
Stick with the old man rap, Kiss.
Best tracks: "Letter to B.I.G.," "What If," "Cartel Gathering"
3.5 stars out of 5