Exclusive: Jadakiss answers if his on-the-spot skills are as sharp as they once were, and he says that while he's unsure if he's still Roc-A-Fella, he can still get Jay-Z on the phone anytime.
Jason "Jadakiss" Phillips is beyond proving his worth to the often fickle Rap masses. Jada is confident enough in what he does to carefully prepare, package and provide a fix to the Hip Hop community - trusting that he’ll get his pay sooner than later - now that’s consignment. The D-Block emcee is as comfortable now as he ever was. In a few months, his debut Kiss Tha Game Goodbye will be 11 years old, and somehow, Jadakiss has managed to maintain fluidity through industry shifts and technology booms. He’s one of the only artists still able to make the streets buzz in anticipation of his latest, and he’s been doing mixtapes since they were on actual tapes. Jada acknowledges his position with easy humility - a wicked coolness that merely hints at his ability to bewilder and amaze within a few bars.
It’s his coup de grace- his deathblow- the way he takes advantage of the doubters who’d forgotten he could rhyme "like that." In one fell swoop and a couple of sharp punchlines, the stragglers are back on the wagon. He won’t say it out loud, without some prodding, but Jadakiss is genuinely one of Hip Hop’s heroes, plugging along, recouping the love from work he strategically floods the streets with, copping his payback- one listener at a time.
On the eve of Consignment’s release, Jadakiss spoke with DX about the formula to longevity, cashing in on favors and being the Incredible Hulk.
HipHopDX: How exactly did the alliance happen with DJ Drama to do this tape under the Gangsta Grillz umbrella? This is your first one right?
Jadakiss: I did The Champ Is Here Part 3 as a partnership- Gangsta Grillz/Invasion - which had [DJ] Green Lantern and DJ Drama, but this is actually my first Gangsta Grillz with just me and Drama. It was kinda like a mutual thing, but I reached out to him because I had a lot of "Down South" features and it just seemed like it coincided to have the hottest mixtape deejay from the South. At the time when I reached out to him, I was like, "Yo, I just need you to do this Gangsta Grillz. What’s going on?," he’s like, "No doubt, I just need you to do this 16 for this song for me…," so I did that and it was just like, you know, a swap out. That’s basically how everything gets accomplished in the industry, ‘cause everybody got a couple dollars, but it goes off your relationship.
DX: In August, Kiss Tha Game Goodbye will be 11 years old. The industry has obviously changed since then, but how have you changed, personally?
Jadakiss: I just try and keep my ear to the street. I’m a little more open than I was back when I was younger. Back then, I just had one sound that I used to stick with and I just started to switch up the flow, or flirt with a different kind of beat. So now, since everything changed I ain’t really scared to try some things that I wouldn’t have tried back in the day.
DX: You have a strong fanbase in Atlanta, a city that doesn’t embrace too many New York artists, but a lot of Hip Hop heads from Atlanta have rocked with you since your beginnings. Why do you think that is?
Jadakiss: Well, my family used to live in Atlanta a few years back so I always had a good relationship with all the artists down there, as well as artists from Houston and Memphis, before the South took over, I was already like a family member of the South so there’s always love. That’s why a lot of dudes down there rock out with Jada like that, ‘cause I ain’t just get on the wave when they started bubbling, nahmean? I was already messing with their music before.
DX: What was your primary goal when you started working on this Consignment project?
Jadakiss: Just to heat the streets and the Internet up, and get back in people’s ears and eyes before I release the album, Top 5 Dead or Alive. Things are natural. This mixtape lane is the lane. You can create such a buzz, you can go on tour. And it’s something the label can support and know that you’re ready to come out with your album so now that the game changed with the whole Internet, you gotta give ‘em a mixtape or some kinda body of work, before you release an album. I want to release the album late summer, early September so now’s the perfect time to give ‘em the mixtape to let ‘em know I’m coming. I’m still on my A-game and I’m still here.
DX: A lot of people who’ve been following your career were surprised to see so many features on Consignment. Why did you feel the need to spread the shine between all these artists?
Jadakiss: I had a lot of inspiration to do the tape off of [Rick Ross' mixtape], Rich Forever - a lot of the same features if you notice and I just wanted to do something a little different than I would do on my album. That’s one of the luxuries of being able to do mixtapes, it’s that you can do something different or you can do anything you want to do, how you’re feeling at the time. You know what I mean? So that’s why you see all the features, because none of my albums really have features like that. A lot of people would like to hear me with a lot of different people, I get that from NBA players and a whole lot of people.
DX: Of all the features you have on there- Trae Tha Truth, Yo Gotti, Lloyd Banks and so many others- which studio experience was the best? Most of these were probably done through e-mail right?
Jadakiss: Yeah. We did two where everybody was in the same studio together while recording. Rest in peace [to] Slim Dunkin. He and Waka [Flocka Flame] came up to shoot a video and we knocked out that "Back to the Money" while they were here. That was the first time Waka came up to [Yonkers] to our studio. We had fun shooting the video, recording the song, and that was actually my first and last time meeting Slim Dunkin. So that was a special moment.
"Paper Tags" with Wale and French [Montana]- they came up to check me and we recorded that all at one time. They came in there and it was spontaneous thing, we were just supposed to be chilling and they came up and it turned into us making some music. The vibe in the studio was great because it came to me playing my other joints and the music was so energetic and knocking they were like, "Yo, let’s do something now." So that’s how that song came about. The energy they got from me playing the songs that I already did, led to us making that song, so that’s always a good thing when you display your music to company and they love it so much that you make some more music to add on to the catalogue.
DX: Have you and Styles started working on your collaborative project?
Jadakiss: We probably got about one or two songs done, we’re just picking some beats, but we working slow.
DX: So with the Consignment tape, the Top Five Dead or Alive album and the Styles P joint project, you’re doing a lot. Are you overwhelmed?
Jadakiss: Nah. I look at my bills and I get my calls from my account, I feel underwhelmed. [Laughs] You gotta keep working, baby. You gotta work. I got kids, I got bills, I like nice things - always buying cars and watches. I’m a sneaker-head. So you know. I get overwhelmed sometimes but you gotta work. It feels great to… You know, with this game, you got a lot of one-hit wonders and one-year wonders, it’s hard to make a career out of this so in order to make a career, it’s a beautiful thing. To keep going all these years, still being in high demand, getting nice bread for a show, getting nice bread for features - that right there is a blessing that you could never top. No matter what nobody say, to be here for more than ten years and still going strong? It’s one of the best blessings you could ask for.
DX: You recently told MTV that you’re “happy with being included in the greatest 50, like NBA players…,” but your style on the mic is more aggressive than your modesty lets on. Do you think you could still dominate in a street battle?
Jadakiss: Positively. That’s still my history. Battling. When I get in that mode, I’m a whole other animal. It’s like the Incredible Hulk and [Bruce] Banner. I try not to turn into the green one. ‘Cause when that green man comes out… All hell breaks loose baby.
DX: So you still think you can hold your own then?
Jadakiss: Hell yeah! With the best of ‘em, with whoever you think... Whatever they think, whatever you think… Anybody! If they tamper or knock that stick off my shoulder, I’ll bite they ass, anybody.
DX: As far as The L.O.X.' new deal, have you guys closed on anything yet?
Jadakiss: Yeah, yeah, we close. We close. I’ve been saying it for about a month but we close. Hopefully before Memorial Day it’ll be done.
DX: Can you speak on who you’re leaning towards, label-wise?
Jadakiss: Nah, nah, I can’t let the cat out the bag.
DX: A couple weeks ago, we saw a picture of you and Kanye West in the studio. Then we saw your name on the Chief Keef track, "I Don’t Like." How did it come about? Did everyone record together?
Jadakiss: That was ‘Ye. ‘Ye put me up on that. I was actually only in the studio with Kanye [West]. Big Sean and them weren’t there at the time.
DX: Had you already heard of Chief Keef? What are your thoughts on him?
Jadakiss: Nah, they actually put me up on him. I heard about him, but when I heard that song? He’s crazy. The song is knocking. I think he’s gonna have a nice little career, he gon’ be alright. You know, a lot of good artists come outta [Chicago]. I think he has a promising career, so far from what I’ve heard. He got all the right people in his corner, so he should be good.
DX: When Top Five drops, will it be on Roc-A-Fella Records? You’re still signed to them, right?
Jadakiss: I’m not really sure. I think so. In fact, I could be… Or could not be. I’m on Def Jam more. I’m signed to Def Jam and [Roc-A-Fella Records] was just a branch before the Roc Nation thing. But I could be. It could be a line on the contract somewhere that makes me still… Under… You know… But I can call [Jay-Z] for anything. Hov is the big homie. Nahmean? He still answers my calls, so that’s a beautiful thing…
DX: [Laughs] Okay, so you’re already planning for Top Five. How far along are you with it?
Jadakiss: It’s all going off the momentum once I drop this mixtape. Before you drop an album, you need some momentum. You’ll hear me on more features: a bunch of G.O.O.D. Friday music, Kanye’s album, the G.O.O.D. Music compilation, Cruel Summer, Pusha T’s album, Lloyd Banks’ new mixtape, [Fabolous'] album… You just gotta get on everything and be everywhere and drop the album when it feels right. I’m just setting up the preparation for it to start feeling right and I’ll get y’all that Top Five.
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