Jadakiss is a man of the people. The veteran rap star has spent the past quarter-century giving the people what they want, both as a member of legendary rap trio The LOX and as a soloist. Once proclaiming that The Champ Is Here on his classic 2007 mixtape with DJ Green Lantern, Jada’s focus on feeding the streets has made him one of the culture’s most beloved and entertaining figures.
His core audience may have been born prior to the explosion of social media, but the 47-year-old has been able to adapt to the lay of the digital landscape while retaining the values that have afforded him respect. This was exemplified with The LOX’s historic Verzuz battle against fellow New York rap luminaries Dipset at Madison Square Garden in 2021.
Groupmates Styles P and Sheek Louch both rose to the occasion, but it was Kiss who led the charge, putting forth a masterclass in the art of the live performance. Using his commanding stage presence, effortless showmanship and knack for comedic timing, The Raspy One had fans eating out the palm of his hand, turning in what many consider the greatest Verzuz performance to date.
Despite those bragging rights under his belt, Jada is by no means ducking opponents or running from smoke. Earlier this month, Kiss headlined VIBE and Def Jam’s Hip-Hop’s Next & Now SXSW showcase in Austin, Texas. Performing a medley of his biggest hits and fan favorites for the rabid crowd at Empire Control Room & Garage, the rapper held down the fort at the SAG-AFTRA-sponsored event, which also included performances from Def Jam’s stable of rising talent.
Following his spirited set, VIBE spoke with Jadakiss about taking the stage in Austin, the legacy of Def Jam, plans for a new album release in 2023, whether we’ll ever get a Verzuz rematch between The LOX and Dipset, and more.
VIBE: You just got done rocking the VIBE/Def Jam SXSW Showcase. What was the experience like?
Jadakiss: Beautiful. I’ve been to SXSW a few times, but the energy was right. The love was in the building. Shout out to Def Jam, shout out to all the artists that rocked the stage. It was beautiful.
How do you usually prepare for a performance and is there anything you need before every show?
Take a nap. I need some water. I need some zaza [exotic marijuana]. A little bit of Casamigos, a towel, and some good energy.
Def Jam Records has a rich legacy. How does it feel to be a part of one of rap’s most historic labels?
You know, [it’s] the world’s most incrediblest record label of all-time. Def Jam. If you love Hip-Hop and you know about Hip-Hop then you’re happy to be a part of Def Jam.
VIBE magazine is also a host of this showcase. What would you say is your favorite memory of VIBE?
I love VIBE. I ain’t win a lot of awards in my life, but I won a VIBE Award. So I will always have a love and a connection with VIBE. They showed me love.
This year also marks the 50th anniversary of Hip-Hop. What would you say Hip-Hop means To you?
Hip-Hop means everything to me. It’s what I wanted to be, it’s something I was able to become. Feed my family, put my kids through college by doing something I love. 50 years. Let’s get another 50.
You did a Verzuz a couple years ago with Dipset against The Lox. Jim Jones recently said that he’s trying to run it back. What are your thoughts on that?
You gotta talk to my advisors (laughs). I would love to run it back, you know what I mean? Why not? For sure.
You also dropped the Friday Night On Elm Street project with Fabolous a few years ago. Are there any other artists outside of The LOX you would do a collaborative project with?
A lot of artists. It’s all about energy and timing.
We haven’t heard an album from you in a couple of years, so when can we expect the next one?
Working on one this year. Right now.
You got a title?
Nah, no title.
You got a timetable for the drop date?
No timetable, no title. But this year, definitely.