Jadakiss: Top Five, Dead Or Alive

posted October 06, 2008 12:00:00 AM CDT | 168 comments

Jayson Phillips is a mans man, a rappers rapper, a hoodlums thug and a D-boys kingpin. More Nino Brown than John Wayne, Jadakiss speaks his soul in a raspy narrative, reminiscent of Marlon Brandos Godfather. In the streets and on wax, the Yonkers native proves that he is cut from a different clothPossibly that army fatigue, clothing Generals and cadets alike. Hes never forgotten where hes come from. Whether Vh1s The Glamorest Life or the sidewalk of Nepperhan Avenue, from concrete he was molded and on it he forever stands.

Everyones list is different. Not only are we talking ingenuity and strength of catalog, we are talking talent and success. Its your list versus mine, each with its own handicap and quirky criteria. Were talking Hip Hop and its storied hall of fame legacy that is finally being done justice with the likes of Vh1s annual Hip Hop Honors. If nothing less, Jadakiss can be ranked as one of the top five emcees out of New Yorkall time. Which is a heavy crown for any rapper repping the birth-state of Hip-Hop.

Jadakiss first solo effort arrived in 2001 with Kiss Tha Game Goodbye. He did just that with hit singles that topped the Billboard 200. Jadakiss strong reputation in the rap industry proved notable on his debut, as he commanded top tier producers (DJ Premier, Timbaland, The Neptunes) and artists (Nas, DMX, Snoop Dogg) in Hip Hop, considered heavyweights by many. Kiss The Game Goodbye became certified gold in a matter of months. The L.O.X. front man reached platinum status with his sophomore follow-up, Kiss of Death that also earned him a Grammy for his pointed political commentary on Why featuring Anthony Hamilton. The most memorable line, why did Bush knock down the towers, sparked controversy and spoke to the hearts of everyday Americans.

Hes come a mighty long way from the shiny suit era of waving the Bad Boy flag. Jadakiss has matured as a man and taken off the fatigue, from trading scathing verses with Beanie Seigel to surviving verbal warfare on mixtapes with G-Unit. Now he just wants the world to Kiss My Ass, as his latest fourth quarter offering promises. Jadakiss chops it up with HipHopDX about the streets, his new Roc-A-Fella venture and reminisces on his most memorable moment with rap legend, Notorious B.I.G.

HipHopDX: What kind of influence did The Notorious B.I.G. have on your career as an up and coming rapper?
I thought Big was incredible. We grew upright about the time we was about to get in the game, is when Big was poppin. So when we was sittin around writing together we'd be like I wonder what Big would say if he heard us. After we got the time to meet him and he was feeling us and it was mutual, that was like the greatest inspiration ever. "This nigga we been trying to meet, and he feeling us? It's no turning back now."

DX: Whats your most memorable moment of Biggie?
My best moment; I had a birthday party one year, uptown, and Big came to the party. It was him and [Lil] Cease. No security, no other people, none of that. He stood on the wall, popped bottles with me and smoked all night.

DX: What do you think of the new Notorious movie, that portrays his life, soon to hit theaters?
I hear it's aiight, I'm glad they made a movie. I just hope they portray him right on there.

DX: Lately you've been like Barry Bonds; hitting it out the park with freestyles, mixtapes and guest verses. Where has this recent inspiration come from?
Well you know, it's a certain formula for when you gonna come out and now with this Internet shit you gotta put out even more music. That's what it is. You gotta feed the people, feed the streets and the net.

DX: The "Hi Hater remix" is dope. I was listening to Hot 97 and Maino was on the radio saying how you were one of the first people to support the record.
No doubt, I heard it in the club and was like, "This is gonna be something." I let him know that I was gonna hop on there when he did the remix. I try to help the new niggas out 'cause they can't get in touch with [Jay-Z] [click to read] or Nas or their favorite artist. I'm the only favorite artists that they can get in touch with, so I try to keep that love with 'em.

DX: Are you like an O.G. in the rap game to up-and-coming emcees?
Yeah, I am like an O.G. I'm like niggas fathers in this...like a forefather that ain't too much fore. [Laughs] Im like a young parent. You know when you see niggas with they pops, chillin.

DX: The hottest song in the game right now is "We Run This" [click to listen] featuring Jay-Z.
Yeah, that's something I let out for the streets.

DX: How did that come about?
Well you know I'm on Roc-A-Fella, Def Jam, Ruff Ryders, Vivendi and a couple other shits before the money even get to me. So, I just hollered at him. I don't need him to hold my hand or walk me through this joint. I just needed some light love and I'll be alright.

DX: Explain the sit-down between bosses that led to the Roc-A-Fella deal.
"Ayo, you wanna make some money? Let's make it happen." He already know where the skills is at 'cause we came in the game somewhat together. It's not like a new artist where he don't really know what it's hittin for. Who wouldn't be happy to have 'Kiss down with 'em?

DX: Plus, you were a free agent.
Yeah. I was flirting with Star Trak and Roc-A-Fella, back and forth.

DX: Why are you going with Kiss My Ass for the album title?
That's how I'm feeling right now. At the third album, this is what it is. The game is all rearranged right now, it's all digital, this and that, not selling. Not really to the fans, but whoever ain't feeling my movement; kiss my ass. It's always love with the fans, that's why I keep giving you music. That's why I do all the handshaking, picture taking and rent paying. But even you feel like telling your boss that, every couple of times a month. Everybody feels like that. Even kids feel like that without talking but with gestures and hand movements. There comes a time when you gotta tell somebody that. You get fed up and you say, Kiss my ass. It's almost legal. It ain't like nigger. I ain't gonna have the same problems as nigger, because even white people tell other people to kiss they ass.

DX: When can we expect the album to hit stores?
Trying to get it out late November, early December. We just heatin' up right now so when we get to a full sizzle and it feel right, we gon' let it go. It's right around the corner though. I only gotta do prolly two, three more songs, finish up some hooks, do some interludes and we gon' be ready to rock.

DX: Who are some of the artists and producers you worked with for this project?
I got Buckwild, Alchemist [click to read], this new kid Success. Eric Hudson [click to read], Pharrell [click to read], Baby Grande, Barrington Levy, Styles [P] [click to read] and Sheek [Louch] [click to read], [Lil Wayne][click to read], [Young] Jeezy [click to read], Baby Storm. I'm a have Faith [Evans] on there. You know I'm trying to give you a nice voluptuous project.

DX: What's different on this third go around?
I just really did it by myself; picked all the beats and all that. I really started working and then I got my team right as I started the project. So it's not like before; people was giving me beats, telling me...I did every beat that I wanted to do. I don't care who felt they liked it or not, if I liked it I did it. I did whatever I wanted to do on all of the songs and that fits in with the whole Kiss My Ass thing. I never got to do that on my other projects. It wasn't like I was cooped up and told what to do but I had to wait my turn to get to this point and do it all by myself.

DX: Are you still top five, dead or alive? Where did that originate?
It might have been a couple people coming up to me telling me that or is just how I see myself in the game. I'm up about number three now. I moved up a couple notches.

DX: Who are the other two, if you're top three?
Nah, I don't know right now. Hov is alive, so he got that number one spot. The number two spot is just floatin' around and it keeps switchin'.

DX: But it always comes back to Jadakiss.
Yeah, it's gon' come back. When they make that next MTV list, I'm on there.

DX: I was actually watching Vh1 and...
Yeah! I was in the bed watching that and seen me come up on The Most Glamorest joint. It was on my sneaker game.

DX: What's the deal with your customized Air Force 1's?
You knowI'm old-school baby. You know how we feel about sneakers. I gotta get all the exclusives. Keep my Nike gameJordan connects. You know how we do. 914. Fly baby!

DX: Vh1 said you had an Asian artist working on your sneakers.
Yeah, my man Hue. I knew Hue before he blew up. I used to order wild shit from him. I got a good stylist, Groovy Lou, he put me up on the hot stuff.

DX: Youve spoken about how bizarre the rap game is with kids wearing tight clothes and all that.
I'm not really playing when I say tight clothes people, 'cause to each is own. I even stepped my clothes down a size smaller, not too small but, you gotta touch on stuff like that. That's what people like to hear. Whatever is hot or contemporary, they wanna hear what's going on.

I was in the sneaker store the other day, this young kid told me about some sneakers that's the hottest shits that I ain't even know about. You gotta stay in touch with the young people.

DX: I have spoken with Styles and Sheek before and one thing that always impressed me about The L.O.X. is that ya'll are close to the concrete; riding through your old neighborhood and showing love. You make it a point of stopping through the local car wash just to say what's up.
That's how we maintain our love. We're hands on with the people. There are people that like us that don't even like rap music. 'Cause it ain't always about the music or profession, you gotta have a good rapport with people, no matter what job or field you in.

DX: On tracks you often talk about the state of the community, specifically with kids running wild today. I remember hearing you on the "Smile remix" with Trae and Styles P...Are you referencing rap, the community or both?
All of that. I'm from the hood so I gotta let it be known. And I got kids and you gotta let 'em know what's really going on out here. I can't pull the wool over my son or daughter's eyes. I gotta try to show them the best of both worlds like my mom and pops did for me. I lived in the crib but I went over to my cousin's house in the projects a couple of times a week, feel it out over here. This is what it could be like. Gotta let 'em know both sides of the fence.

DX: On your last album you had the song "Why" which was very political and earned a Grammy. In this election year, when can fans expect a Barack Obama endorsement on wax?
Nah, I aint really gonna do that too much. I'll probably vote this year, but I'm a stay away from that. I might throw a little reference in here and there.

DX: Nothing too political this year...
Yeah, I'm a keep it official. They didn't expect it, that's why I did it before. You gotta always come from left field.

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