Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Album Review: Jadakiss - The Last Kiss (4 / 5)

Jadakiss' last album release was 2004s Kiss of Death which spawned the sultry duet with Mariah Carey ("U Make Me Wanna") became his biggest hit to date, giving him his first U.S. top 10. The album itself was a very satisfactory affair but still making Jadakiss one to watch on the Hip-Hop scene. The Last Kiss (originally titled Kiss My Ass) is the third installment (and presumably last) in the Kiss series -- Death would've been given a 3.5, which would make The Last Kiss a fair 4 as it follows up very well, although not widely better.

Opening with "Pain & Torture", the album gets off to an aggressive start --althought not as daunting as the title suggests. The song pulses a very brisk beat, followed by a smartly crafted chorus, awkwardly rhyming words with 'pain' and 'torture'. Following it up is "Can't Stop Me" which is a drum, tambourine and synth avocation --proving vocals from Ayanna Irish on the repetitive, jump chorus.

"Who's Real" is among my favorites. It joins in a string of Hip-Hop songs using nursery rhymes and throwing a catchy, kinetic beat on it, in this case it's "If Your Happy And You Know It" --which gets its lyrics changed to: ("If your real and your know it clap your hands") backed with an infectious clap and click bass. Mary J. Blige lends her vocals on "Grind Hard" which consists of an astonishing combination between gospel, synth and raw Hip-Hop.

Styles P and Young Jeezy, who are often compared to Jadakiss, pop up on the tracks "Something Else" and "One More Step" --the songs don't sound alike but their structured the same. "Something Else" presents flattering bursts electronic guitar in the backing track.

Kiss of Death is a very lengthy effort, running up to 19 original tracks --which causes the album to start to drown itself with fillers once it reaches its halfway point. "Be My Side" featuring Ne-Yo is best from the second half --a very distinctive highlight, backed with a funky bassline, blistering synthesizers and soaring, layered background vocals. Ghostface (another artist I often compare to Jadakiss) appears on "Cartel Gathering" which is a very retrospective number.

Other good cuts from the second half include "Letter To B.I.G." with Faith Evans, which is backed with a very mid-paced beat and a complimentary electronic guitar --this could've been easily been included on the Notorious movie Soundtrack-- only 4 months too late. The aggressive "Come and Get Me" is another good cut.

Dry spots on the album come from "Respect My Conglomerate" with Busta Rhymes, which sounds like an unlikely grower, but for the time being doesn't stick that well with me. Lil' Wayne's appearance on the dark "Death Wish" is very unfulfilling --I generally like anything Lil' Wayne appears on.

Whilst The Last Kiss is a wide improvement from Kiss of Death --it's not great-- which makes me wonder if a 4 is too generous, but then again I like most of the tracks, so I'm on the fense with this one.

Best Tracks: Who's Real, Be My Side, Grind Hard, Something Else, I Tried, Somking Gun

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