Jadakiss Investments Have Been Returned In Full

Stevenson Altidor

Let’s step away from the greatness that Jadakiss displayed during the decidedly one-sided Verzuz match-up between Dipset and The Lox. In their recent interview with Breakfast Club on Hot 97, fellow Lox member Styles P said something that encapsulates the group’s success.

“Life is a hamster wheel. You might not be the hottest or on top, but that consistency leads to that big check every once in a while: that big verse, the respect, all of it.”

What the Verzuz showcased more than anything else was the differences in investment. To the Lox, they didn’t come together for a one-night nostalgia act to fade into the background again. For 25 years, Jada, Styles, and Sheek honed their craftsmanship. What started with battles around the corner for three talented MC’s ended in a night filled with roses.

In the end, with the prime of their careers long behind them, The Lox came out on top. Jada, in particular, put on an MVP-worthy performance, navigating between entertaining the fans in The Mecca and at home while surveying their opponents like a Hall Of Fame Point Guard.

But that moment of showmanship was years in the making. Greatness displayed on that level is built upon constantly, day in and day out. A name that is highly respected may fade from time to time, but the work put in that gave it’s acclaim never shares the same fate. A culmination of triumphs, growth, and failure all lead to this.

His love of the game is what drove him during those vital foundational days. He started in the “Single digits,” rhyming with his partner in crime, Sheek Louch, in their Yonkers neighborhood. Styles P, also from Yonkers, lived on the southside but knew about this dynamic. Jada would recall nights where the three would be on three-way, just sharing rhymes while writing.

The Bomb Squad was formed, which also contained Jamarco, the first cousin to Mary J. Blige. He’ll be a crucial figure for the group later. From there, transitioning from the streets to the booth came easy to the crew, especially Jada. Formatting those heart-piercing rhymes from the corner into a good song has been a death knell for many. It was a stark contrast to Jada, who was known to go into sessions on time, with an objective in mind. Alongside Sheek, the Bomb Squad’s work in the studio was always productive, never a second wasted.

Outside of it, Styles P used to work at a record shop, where the group put the records on a tape and sold their projects for 15 bucks apiece. No matter where you went at that time, a group of high schoolers were the talk of the town. The end goal was much bigger, however, and to take their game to the next level, they made their way under one of NYC’s respected hip hop groups at the time, The Mush Men.

“They were able to elevate our recording process,” Jada said in an interview with Complex. “as far as getting different productions.”

What came from their initial investment was elevation. Their knowledge and access to the industry were indispensable early on. Finally, within arms reach of a greater variety of beats, The Bomb Squad took another step towards the top. But the game began to get a little murky. Money that was supposed to trickle down to the group never made its way back.

After the DMX and Ruff Ryders came in and swooped them off their deal with The Mush Men, Jamarco’s connection with the group began to bear its fruits. With the trio honing their respective skills at an exponential rate, it was time to make it to the big leagues. In the ’90s, there was no bigger collective than Bad Boys Entertainment. They were the Chicago Bulls of the rap game: elegant, explosive, technical, with a hint of malice.

Everyone who gazed upon their talent sought out to help reach for the stars. The next phase of their investment was the return. Jamacro. Remember him?  He handed the group’s demo to Mary J. Blige, who then handed it to Diddy while on the Jodeci Tour, who, after the tour, signed them to Bad Boys.

From that point on, nothing was the same for the trio. They were treated like once-in-a-generation draft prospects. receiving the red carpet treatment from Diddy himself, while never meeting with their label mates. Essentially being thrown a beat and told to spit something, “You’ll See” was the start of something major.

But after their shell-shocking debut album Money, Power, Respect things became tense with their label. Unhappy with how they were being portrayed and the overall trajectory of their career, the group wanted out. Integrity meant more than the bottomline.

As a group, The Lox were undeniably great. As individual acts, Jada had something to prove. His debut album left much to be desired, as critics panned the album for it’s repetitive and uninspired nature. Interscope handed Jada “a million and half” expecting to look through a window covered in grime and blood, and got an album that felt as empty as the mansion Kiss recorded in. Without a doubt, there are cuts where Jadakiss comes off as unruly. “None of Y’all Better” and “Show Discipline,” where he raps with intent to kill. “Knock Yourself Out” would make Soulja Boy explode as Jada brags about being the first rapper to cook base on a George Foreman Grill. But then inexplicably, there are tracks like “Fucking or Na?” that should have been left in the mansion it was conceived in.

Jada did not wave his hand at the criticisms; he embraced it. Kiss The Game Goodbye wasn’t a passion project: it was the “get me the hell away from Diddy” slip he longed for. One of his greatest attributes has always been his poise. Like a pro wrestler in front of a rowdy crowd, nothing rattles him. A cut that decimates us mere mortals would barely scratch his exterior. Embracing the criticism and getting away from that toxic relationship gave Jada the creativity to reach his full potential. Giving another eye-bursting budget, Kiss was able to deliver his largest commercial album of his career, Kiss Of Death.

Despite all the success, Diddy still loomed large over his career. And that investment on himself also meant fighting for what is rightfully his. This led to the iconic 2005 interview with Angie Martinez on Power 105.1. Styles P and Jadakiss marched in with a score to settle. After being played twice before, the duo didn’t want to be fooled thrice by the same system. In the absolute coolest way possible, Jada brought up a fridge, a building and security in the same sentence and no one bats an eye.

The investment Jada made during the whole 2000’s was self. He wanted to stick out from those trying to emulate 2001, he wanted to separate himself from The Lox and prove he can stand on his own.  And he did, especially outside of music. When we, the fans, weren’t hearing his gravelly voice on our speakers, he was in the midst of building his portfolio.

Admittingly, It’s been hard to summarize Jadakiss’ legendary status into a piece. Everything I learned was in retrospect. The foundation was laid years before I was born. When speaking on the greatest albums on the greatest hip hop albums of all time,  neither Kiss The Game Goodbye nor the well received Kiss Of Death are brought up much in that conversation. The pillars that solidify his place were built during my developmental years. I can’t give you a firsthand account of his cultural impact. In between albums, Jada would branch out to start multiple businesses, such as SoRaspy, D-Blocc Records, his own brand of coffee called Antidote, and a juice bar called Juices For Life. He even tried his hand at acting. The design stage happened during my teen years, where in my world, you fell off if I didn’t hear on the radio.

What the Versuz did more than anything else was shed light on a palace that was in plain sight. Each investment culminated into that moment.

“Jadakiss is one cold-ass motherfucker.” That was the reaction from my fellow colleague Adien Schwartz after the New York rapper’s dominant performance.

For years, Jadakiss has been a beloved figure in the hip-hop world. In a sport where your name means everything, not an ounce of ill will was ever placed on him. That level of respect, the aura surrounding him, forces those roaming eyes to stare in amazement.The Lox never fell off the wagon when things got dormant because they believed that the next good thing was always around the corner. Don’t force it, don’t doubt it, wait and conquer. The investments you are making now, will be returned in full.

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