|Label:||Def Jam Recordings|
|Next Project:||The Last Kiss|
|Twitter:||Jadakiss on Twitter|
Though Biggie is no longer with us, the hip-hop icon’s influence lives on in many of the then-up-and-coming talents he fostered in the course of his rap career. Taken under B.I.G.‘s wing as a member of pioneering East Coast group The LOX, Jadakiss has done his musical mentor proud with a successful solo run to date. Having achieved heavyweight status with 2001’s Kiss tha Game Goodbye and 2004’s Kiss of Death, Jada is now preparing to turn the page on his opening trilogy with one Last Kiss.
Set to hit stores shelves this spring (March 10 is no longer the release date), The Last Kiss will include singles “By My Side” (with Ne-Yo) and “Can’t Stop Me,” and the highly-rated “Letter to B.I.G.” In addition, Jada recently reunited with DJ Green Lantern, his collaborator on 2004’s acclaimed Tha Champ Is Here mixtape, to bring fans Kiss My Ass: Tha Champ Is Here Pt. 2, (available online now) which features the superproducer’s Booth-approved “Can’t Stop Me” remix.
In an exclusive interview with our own DJ “Z,” Jadakiss steps into the Booth to discuss why he wouldn’t be caught dead singing through Auto-Tune, the possibility of a new D-Block LP, and the real story behind his signature “A-HA!” sound.
Listen to the Interview
Jadakiss Interview Transcription
DJ Booth: What’s goin’ on, everybody? It’s your boy “Z,” doin’ it real big, and joining me inside the DJ Booth is a pillar within the foundation of tried-and-true East Coast hip-hop. An original member of The LOX, a D-Block soldier, and simply one of the most gifted lyricists to ever spit a bar, please welcome my man, Jadakiss.
Jadakiss: Z, what’s poppin’, baby?
DJ Booth: How are you doin’?
Jadakiss: I’m all right, just gettin’ ready to launch this rocket at the world. Last Kiss, gettin’ everything prepped up for the album, the mixtape, and getting ready to go on the road.
DJ Booth: For as long as I’ve been conducting interviews, Jada, there have always been a few artists to whom I always wanted to ask one specific question, above any and all, but never had the chance. So, now that you’ve joined me inside the DJ Booth, I can finally check one more off my list – I’m sure you’ve been asked this question before, but, what’s the deal with the trademark, and excuse me if I butcher it, “A-HA!” sound effect?
Jadakiss: [laughs] I started doing that on my last album, I think… it’s a tension-breaker, like, when I’m about to perform, about to start laying the verses, just to clear my ears, and clear my head and my throat, and that’s what I started usin’ it for. Then my engineer, Choch, left it, and a couple people started liking it, so I just started makin’ it before I came in on a song, I’d just give you that so you knew I was comin’. And these old ladies come up to me, little kids, like, “You’re that guy that goes ‘A-heh!’” They can’t do it, but they make all kinds of sounds – it’s just crazy!
DJ Booth: Do you have it officially trademarked, so if someone ever attempts to make money off it, you can say, “I’m gonna have to sue you if you try that?”
Jadakiss: No; I’ve gotta do that, I’ve gotta officially trademark that.
DJ Booth: You should!
Jadakiss: I’m on that as soon as I get off the phone with you.
DJ Booth: Okay; if you want, I can help you push those papers to the right people.
Jadakiss: All right, definitely, we’ll just make that happen – I need to do that.
DJ Booth: Okay, the deal, though, is, if I assist you in any way, I’m allowed to do it and you can never charge for it – how does that sound?
Jadakiss: Oh, definitely, you’ve got all the rights baby.
DJ Booth: I appreciate it, Jada. Like I said in the intro, the new album, The Last Kiss, is dropping [this spring]. Let’s start backward and work our way forward. The Last Kiss – does that sentiment echo that this might be your last solo project?
Jadakiss: Nah, I just named it that so you could ask me that.
DJ Booth: [laughs] Okay, so, now that we’ve got that question out of the way…
Jadakiss: The name, I came up with The Last Kiss ‘cause I got tired of thinking of album titles that have the word “Kiss” in them, so this is just gonna be my last album that has “Kiss;” you know, Kiss tha Game Goodbye, The Kiss of Death, and now The Last Kiss, a trilogy that you need to stash away somewhere in your attic, ‘cause it’s timeless music.
DJ Booth: Okay; you have to stash away one copy in your attic in case of emergency, but then the other one has to be available to be played at all times.
Jadakiss: You need a couple – just put one in the attic.
DJ Booth: [laughs] I’m not sure if you’re married or not, but who would you like to have on the opposite end of a hypothetical “Last Kiss,” if you only had one left to give or receive?
Jadakiss: I like Eva Mendes.
DJ Booth: That’s a good choice, can’t argue with you there. It took a little more than 4 years for this album to be created and released. After you dropped Kiss of Death in ‘04, Jada, how long did you honestly think it would take till this third project was in the hands of consumers?
Jadakiss: I actually thought I was gonna come back a year later, but then my man D had an accident, I caught a gun charge that I was fightin’ for a year. I was also doing shows for like two years, gettin’ that money, so I wasn’t even thinking of making another album that quick. And then I had the run-in with 50, so I was makin’ more money from shows… I usually don’t make an album till the people call for me, or the people say, “All right, Kiss, it’s time; we need another Kiss album,” ‘cause I’m usually good off of doin’ the shows.
DJ Booth: All things told, do you feel like the four years in between releases was for the best?
Jadakiss: I mean, it’s good and bad, ‘cause the fans and the people change so quick, but I got a chance to get my business right – switch management, switch out lawyers, and hopefully use this as a stepping stone to do some other things, ‘cause that’s all the game is there for anyway, you know what I mean? Rapping’s only a stepping stone, from the artist’s standpoint; producers can do it forever, but if you’re an artist, you should just be usin’ this to go on to some other ventures.
DJ Booth: Definitely – bigger and better things. Let’s continue to focus on the album. The key to any successful album is, obviously, a successful first lead single. We featured your Ne-Yo-assisted “By My Side,” last fall, when it dropped – why do you think that that record had such a hard time achieving success at radio?
Jadakiss: I mean, it’s just ‘cause of the way the times are right now – Auto-Tune’s got a lot of people’s slots blocked up in rotation.
DJ Booth: So, if you or Ne-Yo had used Auto-Tune, that would’ve made the difference on that song?
Jadakiss: Definitely. Anything with Auto-Tune right now could get added to rotation – anything. You don’t even need a label – if the song is good enough, they’ll add it.
DJ Booth: Is that something that you refuse to do with your music?
Jadakiss: You’re never gonna hear me on Auto-Tune, unless I get cancer of the throat from smokin’, and they’ve got to get me one to talk.
DJ Booth: Well, I hope that that does not happen.
Jadakiss: Yeah, I hope that that doesn’t happen either.
DJ Booth: During the recording of this album, did you find it difficult to create records for the sole purpose of appealing to radio?
Jadakiss: Nah, ‘cause that shouldn’t be your core focus. You should never try to make a record and say it’s for the radio, you should just make it, and then if it happens to be that, that’s what it happens to be. Records should come from feelings. You shouldn’t try to do nothing; it should just come out how you feel.
DJ Booth: Absolutely, I agree. The new single, certainly one that you could say comes from feelings, “Can’t Stop Me.” Jada, is there anything that could realistically hold you back from continuing on with your music career?
Jadakiss: Nah, not at all. Maybe if I die or go to jail, ‘cause then I won’t be able to breathe if I’m dead, and if I’m in jail I won’t be able to put out any studio albums, so those are the only two things that can stop me.
DJ Booth: Okay, I hope that none of these things happen, ‘cause this interview’s kind of getting pretty sad – you talked about the cancer thing, the dead thing, the jail thing-
Jadakiss: [laughs] Let’s positive it back up then, baby!
DJ Booth: I looked over the tracklisting, and track six features Pharrell Williams on a song that is entitled “Rocking with the Best.” So, Jada, if you could select three additional guest features, artists who you believe are the best at what they do, just like you, who would you have join you on that hypothetical record?
Jadakiss: Dead or alive?
DJ Booth: Dead or alive.
Jadakiss: Definitely I’d have my man B.I. on there. Andre 3000.
DJ Booth: Okay, that’s two.
Jadakiss: Steve Wonder.
DJ Booth: So Biggie, Andre, Stevie, and Jada – I think we need to make this happen!
Jadakiss: Let’s make it – I’m tryin’! That’d be so much paperwork, it’d be ridiculous.
DJ Booth: But, you know what? I have a feeling that the end result of that collaboration would be epic. And, you know what? No matter how much paperwork is involved, I think it would be worth it.
Jadakiss: I’m gonna try and make that happen.
DJ Booth: Okay, so let’s review so far: you know that, when you get off, you have to get the trademark for the sound effect, and you’ve got to make the collaboration happen. Are you writing this stuff down?
Jadakiss: No doubt. We’re doin’ business; this interview’s turnin’ out great, Z. You’re helpin’ me get my career where it needs to be, baby!
DJ Booth: I always look out for your best interests. As almost everyone knows, the former title of this forthcoming release was Kiss My Ass. So, before we lay this title officially to rest, Jada, is there anyone in particular you’d like to see kiss your behind?
Jadakiss: A couple of the police in the Fourth Precinct over here! [laughs]
DJ Booth: Okay, anybody besides some local po-po?
Jadakiss: Nah, that’s about it.
DJ Booth: Okay. We obtained a video from our good friends at Best of Both Offices in which you viewed for the first time the liner notes of the new CD. Jada, the expression on your face is priceless, almost like a little kid on Christmas morning, unwrapping his gifts. Describe the feeling of seeing that finished product.
Jadakiss: Oh, it was beautiful, man. And that was the one right before the finished one, but I still felt good about it. The album is like your baby, so, when it’s finished, when they finish cleanin’ it off and they bring it back to your arms, that’s a priceless feeling. You go through so much sh*t makin’ the album, with clearances and a whole bunch of political sh*t, that when you finally get the finished product, you can just exhale.
DJ Booth: I noticed, in that video, that you were smoking, and you alluded to that earlier in the interview. Would you say that’s the primary reason for the classic raspiness to your voice?
Jadakiss: Nah – I’m raspy, and if I wasn’t a smoker, I’d still be raspy. My pops has a raspy voice, and my grandfather.
DJ Booth: Okay, so, since we don’t have to worry about the raspiness goin’ anywhere, how about you quit smoking? I want to see you create at least 17 more solo albums.
Jadakiss: No doubt!
DJ Booth: [laughs] Okay, good. Last year I spoke with Styles P. and Sheek Louch, your brethren, and we discussed when a brand new LOX album would be privy to the world. They each said they couldn’t give me a time frame, but that you all have recorded lots and lots of music. So, Jada-
Jadakiss: We’re lookin’ at July, baby. We’re lookin’ at blasting off this summer.
DJ Booth: Give me some details.
Jadakiss: Well, we made some songs and we sat down and had a meeting, so that’s in the works right now.
DJ Booth: Okay. Is this album gonna be released off of Def Jam, Interscope?
Jadakiss: Interscope, it’ll be an Interscope release.
DJ Booth: July’s hypothetically when the album could drop; when could we possibly get our hands on the first single?
Jadakiss: I would say around May and April, maybe sooner than that. The Last Kiss is the set-off – it’s gonna determine when everything else will fall. We’ve got to work our asses off on this project to make everything else come out beautiful.
DJ Booth: Absolutely. [This spring] everybody goes out, picks up a copy of the brand new album, they play it on repeat till the summer starts and beyond, right in time for The LOX to drop. I like that game plan. Jada, give everybody a website or a MySpace page, something so they can find out more.
DJ Booth: My man, I appreciate you joinin’ me inside the DJ Booth. Nothing but the best of luck with this brand new album and the future of your recording career.
Jadakiss: No doubt. Big Z, thanks for havin’ me inside the DJ Booth, I appreciate it. I appreciate all the fans, everybody that support Jadakiss, D-Block. Make sure y’all get that Last Kiss, March 10th, baby.