Within New York, there’s a demographic comprised of hood dudes who practice an orthodox strain of Hip Hop. If you ask them and more likely if you don’t, they will tell you with a straight face that Big Mike, DjJ Envy and Tapemasters Inc.’s Ahead of the Competition is the greatest album of all time. These guys often believe in the Illuminati and blame them for the existence of “Bonnie & Clyde 03” and Soulja Boy’s entire career. They also believe Jadakiss is the world’s greatest rapper. Jada has long been a mainstay on New York radio, and up until now has achieved an impressive duality: making the type of Rap and Bullshit dreck that Fabolous lives on almost exclusively (Critics: Fab’s weed punchlines stopped landing years ago and everyone knows it but you), and satiating the underground by dropping fairly polished, ferocious mixtapes every few years. Which makes his recently released mixtape, ironically packaged as a “love letter” to his fans, so disappointing.
It’s not all bad, despite it’s atrocious name “Lil Bruh” finds Jada over a Neptunes beat that sounds like a rough draft of “Popular Demand” and Jada’s on his most conscious shit since “Why”. On “Lay Em Down” he’s as menacing as ever, running his patented two man weave with Styles and not missing a step. But the mixtape is rife with the cynical crossover shit Jada has resorted to for years to keep the lights on, atrociously sung hooks and poorly executed R&B rap — only this is a free mixtape. This suggests two equally frightening possible conclusions: that Jadakiss is no longer interested in spitting the 16 bar sermons of fire that gave us the ability to forgive his Neyo collaborations in the first place, or that his fan base has become a rabid hoard of 14 year old girls.