In press interviews for his new album, Kiss of Death, Jadakiss, a member of the Lox, asserts that he wants to be thought of as one of the greatest MCs of all time. Though it seems like bravado, the fact that New York's hip-hop community has taken his statements seriously is an indication of the amount of respect he gets there. But his profile rests on his singular talent as a technically proficient rapper, not as an artist. Jadakiss's debut album, Kiss the Game Goodbye, was wildly uneven in its attempts to please both mass (the Neptunes-produced "Knock Yourself Out") and underground (the Alchemist banger "We Gonna Make It") audiences.
Kiss of Death is a minor improvement, and Jadakiss gamely tries to inject some pathos into his famously cold-blooded approach. There's the lead single, "Why," a series of questions that range from the earnest ("If it's all love, daddy, why did you come with your nine?") to the ridiculous ("Why did they come up with witness protection?"). Most of all, he constantly predicts his ascension, dropping lyrical hints such as in "Bring You Down" -- "Trust me, this album, the vapors going to go around" -- as if they were subliminal messages. --Mosi Reeves