When fans and critics throw Jadakiss’ name into the top five dead or alive conversation, not much argument follows considering the rap veteran’s lyrical content puts many of his competitors to shame. But when the Yonkers native puts his own list out for eyes to ogle over, he’s sure to raise some eyebrows as it sits outside the quota. “Biggie, Tupac, Jay-Z, Nas, Eminem, [and] Styles P,” Jadakiss tells Rap-Up.com.
Kiss likes to keep the people talking, and he’s doing just that with his newest effort, a mixtape serving as an EP titled I Love You (A Dedication to My Fans), available now. As usual, he’s playful and menacing in his rhymes but all in all, the lyricist just wants his loyal supporters to use his tracks as the soundtrack to welcome a new season. “It’s to hold you down for the summer,” he reveals. “This is something guaranteed, that you know you’re straight for the summer—for your pool parties, your cookouts. If you ain’t got nothing else, you got that.”
As he readies the release of the Aristotle-directed visuals for his first single, “Hold You Down,” the man who made “Ah ha” a widely recognized phrase, is “chillin’,” in his words. He bumps Keyshia Cole’s “Take Me Away” in his ride (he loves everything about the track) and kicks back with his two kids as they read to him (his son is a fan of Vado and Max B). Get to know the zealous MC as he discusses the one article of clothing he consistently drops dime on, his NBA playoffs pick, and which hip-hop icon he wants to work with on his forthcoming album.
1. What has your schedule been like recently besides promoting your new mixtape?
I just came from performing in the last kingdom in South Africa called Swaziland. It was like real life Coming to America—the king with his face on all of the money. This was my first time there. It was for an AIDS benefit, so it was for a good cause so that’s why I was willing to go do it. I was also just shooting a movie, written, directed, and starring Charles Dutton. I play an artist named Percy Long. It comes out next year probably. It’s a murder mystery that takes place within the music industry.
2. With the mixtape title it’s apparent you’re paying tribute to your fans. Can you think of a memorable fan interaction that really hit home for you?
I had a woman come up to me one time and she pulled out her kid’s social security card and it said Jadakiss on it. She named her son or her daughter Jadakiss. Another time I had this blind girl, she had to be my biggest fan ever. She knew every lyric, she knew every time I was on TV. This was during the first album. When I did a signing for the last album, The Last Kiss, she was grown now, she had a boyfriend and all of that. She was still with me. I’ll never forget that. She empowered me.
3. You have a song on the mixtape called “Rock Wit Me” featuring Teyana Taylor. How did that collaboration come about?
I’m friends with Teyana Taylor’s mother and her aunt. I knew her before she really got to where she is now. So it was just a matter of hooking up with her. It’s all love, baby. She hit me on her project too. It’s really a club banger, that describes it best. [It’s] fit for the radio, club. It’s upbeat. The producer, my man Bink out of Virgina, he did it. He did a lot of production on Kanye’s last album.
4. Everyone knows you as Jadakiss the rapper. What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I just like chillin’, I like reading. I read all kinds of books. Nothing is out of the range. I like shopping for sneakers. I like collecting watches. I just bought a black Jacob; a whole black set actually—a watch, a chain, and a bracelet. I like socks too. I like all kinds of freaky socks—Polo, argyle, the George Jeffersons. I don’t just do the regular white joints. I don’t like under the ankle socks either.
5. Swizz Beatz recently revealed his top five rappers and he listed you among them. How do you feel to be placed in a list like that by your peers?
That’s a blessing. I don’t really get caught up in that, but I appreciate when people acknowledge me as one of their top artists, whether it’s numerical or just in general. I appreciate the love from [my fans and peers] appreciating the body of work I’ve been putting out all of these years.
6. Why do you think hip-hop heads place you in their top five?
I never sold 10 million or none of that, so all the votes I get is strictly off the lyrics.
7. What’s one of the last business decisions you made that really racked your brain?
I’m going through that now actually with a new publishing deal. That’s a good question. I just came from two meetings, so that’s something that is heavy on my mind. You’re dealing with publishers. Me and my management and my assistant and some of the people in my corner [are those that sit in]. I’m trying to work out the numbers and we might have to have a few more meetings. I have a lot of questions that I have to ask. The more questions the better. A lot of these artists are stupid, a lot of these artists dropped out in sixth grade.
8. One of the big news stories in recent weeks is the death of Osama bin Laden. What were you doing when you heard the news?
I was watching the basketball game actually and someone called me and told me that there was breaking news, that they killed Osama bin Laden. I turned to it, looked at it, then turned back to the game. I mean, it didn’t bother me, but if that’s what it takes to bring closure to the people who were lost and killed in 9/11, I’m happy for them. I’m happy for President Obama.
9. Who are you rooting for in the NBA playoffs since you’re a big basketball fan?
Right now I’m rooting for Dallas [Mavericks]. My original was the Knicks. You know I’m New York to the death. They swept us out of there right quick, along with the Lakers. So I’m going with the remainders. I got a close friend on the Dallas Mavericks.
10. You’re currently working on your fourth full-length album. What are you trying to do differently with this album compared to The Last Kiss?
To date [the title is Top 5 Dead or Alive]. Everything is subject to change. And just different content. Just make it better. All of my albums are the same but different. I’d love to have a Dr. Dre track on there. I met Dre a couple times. It’s definitely a possiblilty of getting done, it was just always bad timing. Timing is very important in this game. Timing is very important in everything.