On May 24th, rapper Jadakiss will release I Love You, a mixtape dedicated to his fans. "They’re the best fans in the world, die-hard," Jadakiss tells HipHopDX. "Sometimes I take long putting out projects, but they stick with me. I love them and appreciate them for that. I appreciate them for appreciating my craft and me never compromising who I am and what I do." The project will feature 11 tracks with a variety of features, including Rick Ross and Trae Tha Truth on the "Inkredible Rmx" , along with Styles P on "Lay Em Down" (with Chynk Show). The mixtape also includes some young blood like Teyana Taylor on "Rock Wit Me".
Per Jadakiss, tuning into younger fans has been the key to maintaining his relevance. "I listen to people now with the internet, I check blogs, I check the sites, see how people feel about me," he explains. "I keep my ear to the street. Artists get a lot of money and get isolated from the real world. That hurts their career. Me, I try to be hands on with the people as much as I can. That’s the challenge of my career: making a marriage of songs that are good for my age group as well as the new era." 'Kiss also credits his 14-year-old son and seven-year-old daughter for keeping him abreast of what's hot.
I Love You serves as a precursor to Kiss' fourth solo studio album tentatively titled Top 5, Dead or Alive. "Right now that’s the slated title," he states. "Once I get into the mid-section of it, it might change. But I put it on Twitter and 300,000 people said I should keep it. Majority rules. We gonna squeeze the juice all the way out of the mixtape and then go into the album." Jadakiss' place as Top 5 D.O.A. has been a hot topic in Hip Hop for years, so Jada's confident that album title will stick. The project is scheduled to release on Island Def Jam, Jadakiss' current label home. Both he and The L.O.X. have played the musical chairs game with regard to labels, but right now Kiss is "comfortable" with Def Jam. "It’s as comfortable as you make it," the rapper explains. "All of the labels are really the same, they go off the artist. You gotta be the foundation and put that frontline working and they’ll get behind you. If you don’t do nothing, they won’t do nothing. I had a lot of political contractual problems that I’m just really working out now, so I still feel like I got a lot of more product to put out."
Jadakiss shrugs at the idea of becoming a label executive, reiterating Q-Tip's mantra. "Rule #4080 (Record company people are shady), you heard what Q-Tip said. I don’t wanna go under that 4080 law," Kiss says. "You never say never, though. I see what goes down in the industry, I don’t wanna be one of those guys." The cameos and production for Top 5, Dead or Alive are still up in the air, as Jadakiss has about six tracks completed but is still working out the details. "I don’t like going for the top Billboard acts, but sometimes those are the people that owe me favors," he says of potential album collaborations. One possibility? Odd Future. "I wanted to do something with Frank Ocean before everybody hopped on the bandwagon, the other cats as well," he states. "We’ll see how that works out."
While Odd Future are Jadakiss' newbies of choice, he's open to a lot of the newer talent out there, citing Kid Cudi and Drake as exmaples of artists who have thanked him for his contributions to the game and have studied his career. "When the Kid Cudis and Drakes and all of these guys come up to me and say, 'Yo, you’re a legend,' that’s the energy for me to keep going because that’s how I was with B.I.G," he recalls.
In the meantime, fans of Jadakiss will surely enjoy his love letter to them. I Love You is admittedly more heartfelt per Kiss, and not as tough as his The Champ Is Here series. "Of course it has some thugness on there," Jadakiss says, "but it’s more heartfelt." The mixtape arrives just as the summer months are upon us, and according to Jadakiss, it's designed for driving around with the top down. "If you’re one of my fans, you’re gonna put it in and ride out."