“I’m here baby, I’m one of the greats in Hip Hop. What you have to do is just ask the other greats.”
Since its early beginnings, Hip Hop has always been about competition. For some, being the best means monetary gains and everything that accompanies. Others, respect is all that matters. However, some hope for their names to be quoted as the greatest until humanity ceases to exists. Yonker’s own Jadakiss can be added to the Hip Hop’s handful accumulating all three notions. Before breaking out on his own, Jason Phillips gained his following alongside Styles P and Sheek Louch through The L.O.X. Releasing their Bad Boy Records debut Money, Power & Respect, the titular single earned them a gold plaque besides debuting at number three on Billboard’s 200. Setting out on his own, Jadakiss eventually dropped his biggest hit single to day “Why” featuring R&B crooner Anthony Hamilton from his sophomore album Kiss of Death and earning accolades as well as controversy along the way. Adding another pivot point in his prolific career, he’s set to drop his fourth full length studio album Top 5 Dead or Alive November 20.
A lot has changed since Jadakiss released his third album The Last Kiss nearly five years ago headed by lead single “By My Side” featuring Ne-Yo. “It’s been a whole digital takeover since the last album,” says Jadakiss. “I learned how to get my website right, got my followers up, learned how to engage and maintain with the people almost like making the internet another sixth man on my team.” For Top 5 Dead or Alive, the album represents exactly why he’s considered by many as the fiercest lyricist in Hip Hop. “I got music for those who just got on board and those who’ve been there since day one.” Those yearning for classic Jada can look forward to tracks including “You Don’t Eat” featuring former Bad Boy boss Puff Daddy, the Swizz Beatz assisted “Jason” and a guest verse from Nas on “Rain.” Those looking forward to another reunion of The L.O.X. can look forward to “Synergy” featuring Styles P alongside “Realest In The Game” with Sheek Louch and Young Buck. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t forgotten about today’s Hip Hop vanguards.
Appearances from Future, Nipsey Hussle, Wiz Khalifa and more ensure the level of creative variety that’s defined Jada’s career. “I got stuff for those who want to get deep, those who want concepts and those want lyrics,” describes Jadakiss. “Top 5 Dead or Alive is something you can rock to. I’m taking you on a nice voyage that’s a gumbo of everything.” Alongside Swizzy, expect production from established hitmakers such as Bangladesh, Just Blaze and Rico Beats among others. “I don’t go for big names or who got the hottest song at the moment,” says Jadakiss. “I just got for what I like and if the people love it, it’s a good marriage.”
This time around the motif of Top 5 Dead or Alive is also reflected in a bronze hall of fame busts featuring sculpture of Jada’s head. “My partner was like this album means so much that you need something bigger than an album cover,” Jada explains. “I didn’t think that people were going to understand it, but people seem to love it which i why we’re traveling around with it.”
Jadakiss’ proclamation comes with experience and longevity in a current rap game where emcees are easily disposable. “There are a million rappers out here that’s in nobody’s top five so to even be in the discussion is a beautiful thing,” says Jada. “It’s a blessing and something you should take for granted.” The busts is a symbol of Jadakiss’ unbending hard work. Expect Top 5 Dead or Alive to be his new calling card.
15 years since his grand solo entrance with Kiss Tha Game Goodbye, Jadakiss understands his brand and what it means for Hip Hop. Proving his worth by himself, the platinum selling debut featuring the Pharrell assisted “Knock Yourself Out” served as undeniable proof “the streets are his,” said Rolling Stone music critic Joseph Patel. “I don’t compromise; straight bars and no cutting corners,” says Jada. “I’m painting pictures that make you feel like you’re there. Real life realities brought to you in music where I make you feel like you were there when you listen to me.” One to be reckoned with for over a decade, his ability to mature with the times and maintain his integrity has been Jadakiss’ key to becoming one of Hip Hop’s greats. “Those who make a career out of it are the ones you should stick and gravitate to,” he says. “I’m definitely one of those and should be here for a long fucking time.”