Kiss of Death

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Jadakiss realizes he’s as driven by fame, women and cash as any other emcee whose creative spur stems from the gritty concrete jungles of Yonkers, N.Y. So he attempts to soften his image with “Why,” a thoughtful lament that canvasses Kobe Bryant and Bush, drug laws and snitches (with Anthony Hamilton guesting on vocals): “Why sell in the stores when you can sell in the streets?” he asks bitterly. “Why do I say the hottest shit but be selling the least?”

Everybody knows Jada’s flow ain’t sloppy (hell, even Nas called him one of the hottest lyricists out) but his formula is as calculated as an Ashanti dance routine. So Kiss of Death is a glossier, more suited-up version of Kiss Tha Game Goodbye. Only this time, things get more personal. “Past few years, shit got so ill it was kind of hard for the guard to laugh through the tears,” he admits on “Still Feel Me,” where he goes on to open up about family drama and calamity.

With an overhyped superstar guest list (Pharell, Kanye West, Snoop, Eminem, Mariah Carey, etc.) it’s assumable that Jada’s worried about marketing. The dude wants a hit. But Mariah’s faux-sex coos aren’t what save the record. It’s Jada’s machete-sharp rhymes, cold swagger and newfound vulnerability. Even if, “the road to riches is taking [him] longer.” It’s the insecurity that creates the allure.

Linda Hobbs is an editorial intern for Metro Times. E-mail letters@metrotimes.com.

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