Jadakiss [click to read] was already well regarded after his days with Bad Boy and Ruff Ryders, so giving him the rub from Jay-Z and Roc-A-Fella seemed like a good way to get him over that last hump to take a solid spot in the top tier. There doesn’t seem to be much that the new team has offered him musically, but he wasn’t in any real need of a change either so that’s not a problem. Def Jam has instead let Jada be Jada on The Last Kiss, and that alone makes it worth checking for.

His versatility is in tact, letting him sound equally at home on the party records (“Stress Ya”) as the street tracks (“One More Step” with Styles P [click to read]). While not often cited, Jada especially shines when he’s painting a picture of the block. On “Death Wish,” even with Lil Wayne invalidating the song’s concept with his usual scatter-brained verses, Jada breaks down the desperation of the environment expertly.

His understanding of the game and the motivations of the various players adds and extra layer of truth to his bars and is a big factor in what sets him apart, but he’s just as good with the witty punch-lines and smooth, natural delivery. Jada touches every base when it comes to the kinds of records he includes on The Last Kiss, but doesn’t have to get bouncy for the southern “Something Else” because his flow already fits into every situation.

The Last Kiss isn’t without its flaws though, and even though Jada himself isn’t one of them, he’s still responsible since his name is on the cover. The main issue is that there are just too many guests on the tracklist, and while many of them serve their purpose well (Young Jeezy [click to read], L.O.X., Ghostface and Raekwon [click to read]) several are just extra. The glut of R&B hooks is hard to ignore considering that several of the singers can’t really even sing that well–apologies to Avery Storm and S.I. but the truth is the truth.

Even the more capable vocalists still often feel unnecessary. We all understand that the “gangsta love” song for the ladies is an obligatory part of the big-budget rap album, but there are four or five of them on The Last Kiss. While any is good enough to serve the purpose, this isn’t what anyone is really coming to Jada to hear and a few of these tracks will surely end up falling victim to the skip-button on repeat listens.

There are plenty of unnecessary guest rappers as well and most of them are gathered on one track–the overlong “Something Else” remix that takes the original version and tacks on a bunch of affiliates that you’ve never heard of. Add “Who’s Real” to the list of filler, which sounds like something Swizz Beatz [click to read] meant to sell to T.I. but ended up getting thrown to Jada as the last second to satisfy the label.

Even if there are a handful of tracks that should’ve been shaved off, there’s nothing outright bad on The Last Kiss and a lot that’s good. It probably won’t be a standout in his overall catalogue when its all said and done (especially compared to the disgracefully underrated Kiss of Death) but it’s a solid entry nonetheless. A good album from a great rapper–give it your time.