In 1995, The King of New York, The Notorious B.I.G., told his younger labelmate, Jadakiss, that he was one of the “nicest” in the game and all of sudden the switchboard went off in the Yonkers’ upstart’s brain. There was no looking back; Kiss could only forge forward with his deadly 16s. Jada has become a certified living legend stamped by peers such as Lil Wayne and Jay-Z as one of the best to ever spit on the mic.
In 2001, Kiss released his first solo LP, Kiss Tha Game Goodbye, and not only did he inflict his bars of death, but Jada proved he can make classic records. That year, Jada had to compete with other anticipated albums like Jay-Z’s The Blueprint, Fabolous’ debut Ghetto Fabolous and Nas’ comeback effort, Stillmatic. Here, The Lox member with the raspy voice talks about the competition back then, the making of his first album as well as how the economy has changed the way MCs record now. —As told to Shaheem Reid (@shaheemreid)
Back in 2001, you had to come out swinging. If you wasn’t a warrior, you could have gotten smothered. Everybody was turning it up. People were putting projects out rapidly. Then when Hov puts out a project, it shuts down all the slots at retail and the radio. If you ain’t a heavyweight, you gotta fall back and wait for the Wrath of Khan to go by. My whole thing is if I can get across to enough of them that my project is coming, I don’t care who else is coming out. It was never about sales. I’m just trying to please you with the music. For me to always stay in the race with dudes like Nas and Hov at that time, I was good. But you definitely was on your toes though back then. You was listening to the [Funkmaster] Flexes, the [DJ] Clues, the mixtapes, or you would have gotten swept. You would have got caught in that tsunami. I call that “The Tsunami Era” in hip-hop.
It was a lot of pressure to make my first solo album, but at the same time, it wasn’t really pressure. I was blessed to have people feeling me as lyricist; being down with Bad Boy and Diddy then going to Ruff Ryders. I was blessed to be in a good position. So they always took good care of me. Interscope did a hell of job promoting that first album. I was Ruff Ryders’ little baby, so they wasn’t gonna let nothing happen to me but the best. I felt good. I felt like a King or Prince, you couldn’t tell me nothing. I was just a kid out of Yonkers rapping.
The biggest difference from making my new album Top Five Dead or Alive and my first album Kiss Tha Game Goodbye is everything is independent now. Everything is dumb downed. The budgets! My first album, we were in one of Al Capone’s old cribs on South Beach, beating the budget up, as opposed to now just working in my own studio. The luxury of moving around and renting a house for a few months ain’t there no more. The money ain’t there. The economy in the game is down, which is cool, but these new cats ain’t never gonna get a chance to experience that; a few million dollar videos and all that stuff.