Three years after the colossal disappointment of his debut album "Kiss Tha Game Goodbye", Jadakiss proves that time does not heal all wounds. Falling into the same trap as he did last time around, Kiss fails to learn from his prior mistakes and once again releases a highly disappointing album with his sophomore effort.
Following the industry blueprint, Kiss tries to appeal to every demographic on "Kiss Of Death". Instead of following in the footsteps of Sheek or Styles P, Jadakiss goes for the commercial home run by releasing an extremely formulaic album that is intended to push units, not to appeal to long time Lox fans. The album is plagued with the same problems "Kiss Tha Game Goodbye" featured, with an overload of guest appearances, weak production and watered down songs.
"Kiss Of Death" is ultimately divided into two half's, the first being the commercial side, and the second being the more street influenced. The first half is definitely the albums downfall, as Kiss runs through every cliché song-making attempt in the book. "Shine" featuring Snoop Dogg and DJ Quik is your typical funk filled west coast attempt that is completely misplaced with Kiss' style. The bubbly Jelly Roll produced track finds Snoop and Quik at their usual best, while Kiss tries to "adapt to his surroundings", something he continually fails to do throughout the album.
For the clubs, Kiss attempts to strike it rich with "U Make Me Wanna", a bland duet with pop diva Mariah Carey. Scott Storch laces the track with an arrangement of enticing flutes that certainly adds a sensual feeling to the track. Unfortunately, Kiss is unable to capitalize off of Stroch's work. Similarly, the flavorless Neptune's collaboration of "Hot Sauce To Go", "What You So Mad At?" and "Bring You Down" are all bland attempts that lack any energy or creative flare.
While the second half of the album is more street orientated, it still remains as inconsistent as the first. The all-star combination of Kanye West and Jadakiss fails to live up to the hype with the lukewarm player tales of "Gettin' It In". Kanye's recycled verse takes a turn for the worst with such lines like "don't try to treat me like I ain't famous, my apologies, are you into astrology, cause um I'm trying to get to Uranus". Even more disappointing is the dream team formation of Eminem, Kiss, Styles P & Sheek on "Welcome To D-Block". With your typical, dark and haunting Em beat, each emcee delivers solid verses, especially Kiss. However, the song cannot overcome its dreadful hook, which is entirely too long. Other dull efforts include the lifeless lyrical clinic of "Air It Out" and the gun-toting anthem of "By Your Side".
Thankfully, Kiss did not completely forget where he came from, as he does offer some vintage Lox tracks. "Shoot Outs" is easily the albums finest moment, as Kiss and Styles go back and forth trading verses over a vicious Elite produced track. With a heart thumping bass line and guitar riffs, the track epitomizes the gritty essence of D-Block. The Swizz Beatz produced "Real Hip Hop" follows the same pattern, as Kiss hooks up with Sheek for a fiery street anthem. With an uncharacteristic hardcore production effort from Swizz, Kiss and Sheek go hard for three minutes straight, no hook and no gimmicks. The album's lead single "Time's Up" featuring Nate Dogg is another sure shot hit from Kiss. As Scott Storch once again comes through with an amazing job behind the boards.
One of Jadakiss' main flaws over the years has been his inability to open up and show his more personal side. Everyone knows lyrically Kiss can hang with the best of them, but his limited subject matter of guns and woman has grown tiresome. Looking to change all of that, Kiss offers a more introspective look inside the world of Jason Phillips. The Alchemist produced "Still Feel Me" picks up where the original left off by dazzling listeners with three minutes of brilliance. This time around, Kiss focuses on his own personal struggles, as well as family problems. "I went through something with mama, no drama. Something that came and went, real life karma. My pop thinks his son is deserting him, its hurting him. Guess I gotta be the man and sit down and work with him". However, its on Kiss' second single "Why", were we witness the real growth of Jason. Touching on various political and social issues, Kiss asks the listener to think about such topics as political corruptness and black on black violence.
Whether or not Kiss can spit is not the issue. The real concern is whether Jadakiss can produce conceptual material without having to rely on the industry blueprint as a guide. All great artists learn from their mistakes and grow with every album. If Kiss wants to become one of the greats, he is going to have to stop taking baby steps and start making some real progress. If not Kiss will only be remember as a great emcee who failed to live up to expectations, not "top five dead or alive" like he proclaimed.