Jadakiss: Kiss Tha Game Goodbye

Jadakiss: Kiss Tha Game Goodbye

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Jadakiss

Album: Kiss Tha Game Goodbye
Label: Interscope

As The Lox's frontman, Jadakiss has long been viewed as gangsta rap's next big thing, a lyrical kingpin with the understated wit, charisma, and delivery of an all-time great. But The Lox's two albums weren't impressive enough to justify the hype surrounding the rapper's eagerly anticipated solo debut. The Lox's 1998 debut Money, Power & Respect was notable mainly because it spurred a well-publicized split with P. Diddy and Bad Boy Records, while 2000's We Are The Streets boasted a terrific single in "Ryde Or Die, Bitch," but sunk under the weight of The Ruff Ryders' tinny, interchangeable production. Jadakiss fares better with Kiss Tha Game Goodbye, which follows in the footsteps of Eve's Scorpion in combining the rapidly improving skills of the Ruff Ryders production team with a handful of hotshot outside producers and enough guest stars to fill out a hip-hop edition of Hollywood Squares. The Ruff Ryders' deep pockets have brought out guests like 8Ball, Eve, DMX, Carl Thomas, and many more, but while money can rope in big names, it can't buy quality. Veteran guest-whores Nas and Snoop Dogg turn in lively performances on "Show Discipline" and "Cruisin," respectively, but big-dog producers The Neptunes, DJ Premier, and Timbaland turn in work that feels like a half-hearted afterthought. Jadakiss' subject matter, meanwhile, remains stuck in the streets, as evidenced by Kiss' opening track, "Jada's Got A Gun," which pays homage not to Aerosmith's late-period cautionary tale, but to Jadakiss' impressive artillery, which he describes with the fetishistic zeal and attention to detail of an NRA lifer. His mesmerizing flow manages to make the trite topic fairly compelling, which says a lot about his strengths and weaknesses, especially since the remainder of the album finds him fighting a mostly winning battle against lame skits, familiar subject matter, uneven production, and a padded run time. Jadakiss has yet to make an album worthy of his somewhat inflated reputation, and though it's no exception, Kiss Tha Game Goodbye shows signs that he may become a legitimate great after all.

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