For more than a decade, Jadakiss has held a recurring presence in both the mixtape circuit and the Billboard 200. His relevancy and consistency speaks volumes, especially considering the Yonkers native comes from an era very much disconnected with today’s mainstream sound. Fresh off the release of a new collaboration with The-Dream and readying his fourth solo album Top 5 Dead Or Alive, a longstanding claim, Kiss sat down with XXL at Def Jam’s Midtown Manhattan headquarters to discuss the approach to his new LP, his relationship with Def Jam, and the buzzing rumors he’s headed to Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group.—Ralph Bristout (@RalphieBlackmon)
XXL: You’re coming out of the warm-up gear now that you’ve unleashed this new collaboration with The-Dream.
Jadakiss: I mean you know, we just working. Trying to fulfill my contract.
So is that what it’s about right now? Fulfilling your contract?
I mean it’s always about that. It’s about making money, fulfilling the contract, keeping the fans happy, taking care of your family. It’s a list of things that it’s about.
This is you’re first time working with Dream on a record. How did that come about?
After I laid the verses on there I needed a good [feature]. It was either going to be Miguel or The-Dream. Really those were the only two I thought about. Miguel or The-Dream. I reached out to Miguel, but he was busy or doing whatever so I ain’t wait for him. I went to Dream. Once I got Dream, he was a genius. He took off and did what he did.
Is this the official first single?
Yeah, this is from the album. This ain’t like a throwout or none of that. This is leading up to an album, hopefully in September or October. It won’t be no where past that. It’ll either be earlier than that or September, October. I got to get it out. It’s just about making sure Def Jam do a little bit of what you want. You know, I ain’t one of them artists. I don’t have big radio records, I ain’t looking for Billboard lights and all. I just need my initial push out there to be a good one so I’m able to coast and go hit the road and do some shows, get on the tour bus. Come back and do it again. That’s how we rock.
You just want the machine to do their part while you handle the rest?
Yeah, but I don’t want them to short-deck me though. That push got to be good because I ain’t coming for a bunch of pushes. I just need one good launch. We’ll be aight though.
Yeah, I mean you turned heads with the last album, The Last Kiss. You did six figures the first week after being counted out.
Yeah, they underestimated me in the building. I was talking about that in a meeting up here. They know that. They could tell when I ain’t happy. As far as the music, I’m always going to deliver. But when you put out an album, it’s a collective effort from the label, your own staff, everybody that’s involved with the project—it works like Voltron. Everybody down to the smallest person has to be doing their part to make the whole things take off correct. If that ain’t in place, that ain’t it.
How was that meeting today?
Yeah, I was in the meeting today and they basically said, ‘We know that we screwed up on the last release.’ I did good numbers but I could’ve did more if they were behind me, how they were suppose to be. So their whole thing was that they don’t want me to be unhappy. They really don’t have to care how I feel so that’s a good thing to show that they passionate about me being passionate. So that was actually a good meeting, or at least they sold it as a good meeting and made me think they were behind me. So that’s all you could really ask for, being in the game this long.
More than a decade in, how does that feel?
Sometimes it’s scary to think about when I first came in and how long I’ve been here. But it’s a good thing to still be here and be relevant and still be able to spit and still be loved. It’s all about the fans at the end of the day, because when they don’t want you here, you ain’t going to be here. So I thank the Lord everyday that I’m blessed to still rock out.
You’ve been able to remain relevant and consistent since first coming in. What do you attribute that relevancy to?
That’s one thing I learned from B.I.G. He was always heavy on versatility. I’m able to take an R&B record and rip it the same way I rip a regular freestyle or a hardcore beat, be able to put that same twang and seasoning on anything you do. Whether it’s a song with Diggy [Simmons] or a song with Ross. You still got to spice it up no matter who’s at the plate. That’s one thing that I took off B.I. because he loved a lot of R&B songs. he used to rip those joints and tell you, you got to this the same way. So I really took that out of that and I try to give the same energy no matter what kind of song it is.
And albums too because you do the same with your projects as well. Correct me if I’m wrong, I feel like with Kiss of Death you actually got to do what you wanted to do with the album?
Nah, I do what I want to do with all of my albums, it just be the staff. I could give you an example for every album, even Kiss of Death, where they screwed up. Like on Kiss Tha Game Goodbye, “We Gon’ Make It” was suppose to be the first single. Then on Last Kiss, “Smoking Gun.” I could keep giving you songs.