Jadakiss, ‘The Last Kiss’ (Roc-a-Fella/Def Jam)
This raspy East Coast vet, who’s feuded with Diddy, 50 Cent, Bill O’Reilly, and Jay-Z wingman Beanie Sigel, will always be a mix-tape rapper. And an exceptionally good one. His latest, The Champ Is Here Pt. 2, plays to his strengths with punishing beats, witty similes, and craggy punch lines. But on his third official solo album (via Jay-Z’s imprint!), he lapses into derivative songwriting formulas. Once again, there’s a “conscious” query (“What If?”) and a song where he trades lines with Lox compatriot Styles P (“One More Step”). The problem: Both are virtual remakes — and vastly inferior — to 2004’s “Why” and 2001’s “We Gonna Make It,” the only hit singles from his first two albums. There are no such standout cuts here.
Listen: Jadakiss, “Letter to Big”