The New York Times Reviews Jadakiss’ “I Love You…”

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I Love You (A Dedication to My Fans): The Mixtape”

(Def Jam)

“Hold You Down,” by Jadakiss and Emmany, is a little splash of 1995, of
2001, of moments when hip-hop was really giving in to R&B, letting
go of its stiff shoulders and mean mug. “Never mind them side chicks and
they issues/that ain’t nothing but bad luck that they wish you,”
Jadakiss raps, his tough-guy growl put in the service of fealty. Back in
the day a song like “Hold You Down,”
produced by J Buttah — lush but propulsive, and with attitude — would
have been a national smash, but now it sounds like a regional footnote,
an antiquated New York style, a historical re-enactment.

It’s a song out of time, and extremely happily so, but that’s not the
mood throughout the preposterously titled “I Love You (A Dedication to
My Fans): The Mixtape,” the new Jadakiss EP being passed off as
something like a mixtape, though released on a major label.

Maybe it’s contractual obligation, or maybe it’s the rush to monetize
“Hold You Down,” which has slowly been growing in popularity for a
couple of months. Whichever the case, “I Love You” is slapdash by every
measure, except Jadakiss’s rhymes. The beats may change around him, but
he remains a stoic, rapping about drug dealing and women’s footwear with
equal sincerity.

His rhymes land square and hard, with dry wit: “Leave Potsie alone and
come home to the Fonz/Gold medal feel so much better than the bronze.”

The solo songs here are breezy and efficient — three verses in about
three minutes, mostly. But the rest feels cobbled together. There’s a
remix of “Inkredible,” which was released last year by the Houston
rapper Trae; the earnest “Lil Bruh,” which samples N.E.R.D. heavily; and
“Toast,” on which Fred the Godson takes Jadakiss’s flat affect and
raises him, brilliantly. The album closes on a sharp left turn, with the
sad “Gone Too Long,” about jail time driving a couple apart.

It all could pass for a mixtape if Jadakiss himself hadn’t already
redefined what that could mean. In 2004 he released “The Champ Is Here,”
one of the first artist-focused mixtapes to equal or better his albums,
setting the stage for a generation of rappers to make complete artistic
statements without waiting for major-label money. As “I Love You”
shows, it’s hard to go back.

-JON CARAMANICA

I LOVE YOU (A Dedication To My Fans) The Mixtape Available Everywhere Now!

Click here to Download Jadakiss’ New Album “I Love You: The Mixtape” on iTunes
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