Released April 7th
One of the most hotly anticipated albums of 2009, The Last Kiss, the third studio album from the emcee that loves talking about kissing, is already up on people’s Top Five of the Year lists. To be fair, if you want the same hardcore street rap, you'll probably be pretty satisfied, but if you're looking for something - anything - new, consider passing.
With maybe the exception of Letter to B.I.G., Jadakiss never really approaches anything that should be considered clever, inspired, emotional, or intense lyricism. He makes a pass at political hip-hop credibility with the track "What If," which should end up generating some buzz with its faux-intellectualism.
What if Shyne beat the case? What if Diddy did a dime flat? / What if Nelson Mandela could give his time back? / What if Malcolm was silent? What if Martin was violent? / What if you could really ‘sneak an uzi on the island’?
Though Jada would have liked to think these questions would evoke profound in his listeners, there are really no edgy questions being asked. He just tallies off historical events relating to the treatment of black people, asking “what if” things were flipped the other way. What if Peyton was fighting dogs instead of Mike Vick? What if Peyton Manning, whose very aw-shucks dopeyness makes him millions in ad revenue, was running a dog-fighting ring? Jadakiss should have picked his battles more carefully if he was trying to raise insightful questions about race. Maybe What if a black man was really controlling Fema? could have been one if the topic had not already been turned into a marketing device. The worst crime of the song is when ‘Kiss inserts threats directed at no one in particular into his musings on history. What if I hit you with the razor from cheek to chin? Just like no one would believe Arnold would just let Tookie get life, no one is gonna buy into it when you toss swagger around like that.
Overall the production on The Last Kiss is mediocre. Jada grabbed a handful of the most popular producers in hip-hop and sprinkled them around on the album. The only producers that have more than one joint on the album are The Neptunes. The result is that every track comes packaged sounding like a single for the radio, the clubs, or the billboards. You are starting some grumbling coming out of the fan bases and even the industry for albums with more cohesive production, which might be accomplished with the use of one producer or production team for an entire album, like Clipse’s Hell Hath No Fury.
Q-Tip himself came out, comparing hip-hop of today to music in the 50s where artists created music with the sole intention of getting singles released. He says on Twitter (Can Twitter be considered a legitimate journalistic source? Guess so) “the industry has generally gotten far from what an album should be. ‘Tracks’ with various ‘producers’ is what we get.” The result in this case is a sonically disjointed album with Jadakiss’s rapping not being enough to pull it together.
Jadakiss originally wanted to call this album “Kiss My Ass,” but changed it because the name “wasn’t testing well at retail,” according to an interview with BET.com. He should have kept it, considering that this album is basically a big fuck you to anyone who wants it real. Get on his dick about how he's the best rapper of all time, kept it street and never went mainstream. But he brought in Nas, Weezy, Jeezy, Ne-Yo, and Pharell as guests, and pulled production from The Hitmen, Just Blaze, Swizz Beatz and the Neptunes. Best rapper in the game? He's not even the most impressive emcee in D-Block anymore. I don’t wanna hate, it’s just a disappointment that another emcee jumped into the mainstream and shouted “too many cats are selling out” as he fell.
Rhymes 6.5 Sound 5.5 Overall 6
Best place to listen to this album: A club...and I'm already too drunk to care.
Listen to Jadakiss's "What If"
(It's not streaming yet, we're working on that)