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On May 24, Jadakiss will put out his eighth mixtape, 'I Love You (A Dedication to My Fans),' in honor of those loyal followers who have stood by his side over the past decade. "Why sugarcoat it?" he tells the BoomBox, in reference to the mixtape's sentimental title. "It's just how I was feeling."
'I Love You,' which Jada describes as a more heartfelt compilation than his previous, three-part 'The Champ Is Here' series, will include features from Rick Ross, Styles P, Teyana Taylor, and if all goes as planned, almost each track will have an accompanying video. First up will be the visuals for 'Hold Me Down,' which have already been filmed.
The new mixtape will precede Jada's fourth solo album 'Top 5 Dead or Alive,' due out later this year on Island Def Jam. The 35-year-old rapper, who sold over 3 million copies of his 2001 solo debut, 'Kiss Tha Game Goodbye,' and spawned three hit singles with 2009's 'Kiss of Death,' chose another direct title for his fourth LP. "If you're just focusing on lyrics, I feel that I'm in the Top 5 with anybody," he explains. Besides the title's bold statement -- a topic that has been fiercely debated for years in the hip-hop community -- his number one focus remains on satisfying his loyal fan base. "I just want it to be better than the last album and I want the fans to appreciate it," he says.
After the release of 'I Love You' and 'Top 5 Dead Or Alive,' Jada will begin work on the long- delayed LOX album, which he hopes will be released by early 2012. During a break from the recording process, Kiss speaks on the rappers he puts in his Top 5, who he'll tap for his forthcoming album and what it was like to meet the king and queen of Swaziland.
'I Love You (A Dedication to My Fans)' is a very straightforward mixtape title.
It's been 10, nearly 15 years, that my fans have been supporting me, so I really love them. Whether it's Jadakiss, the LOX or D-Block supporters, I really appreciate them and love them for real. You're spending your money on my music and my concerts and shows, so, I love you, real talk.
Did any particular event inspire the title?
Me and my homies always say, "I love you," to the waiters, flight attendants or anyone that's helping us. And one day, while I was saying it, my friend said, "You should name your new mixtape that." And I thought, you know what? You're right. 'I Love You (A Dedication To The Fans)' and it just took off from there.
How will it compare to 'The Champ Is Here' mixtapes?
If you follow 'The Champ is Here' series, it's always real hard, and this is still hard but it's a got a little bit more of a softer feel. There are more joints for the females, more heartfelt songs, more real-life issues. It's also ride-out music, the songs that you might start bopping to and start thinking about your ex-girlfriend, or one of your loved ones that's no longer here, or one of your close friends that's incarcerated, or somebody in the hospital. That kind of music.
Following the mixtape will be the new album, 'Top 5 Dead or Alive.' Do you consider yourself to be an underrated rapper?
I consider myself to be blessed but a lot of fans and other people think I'm very underrated. They feel I should be on a higher pedestal than some artists who get praised more, because they feel that I'm better than them. But coming from where I'm from, I'm just happy to have a chance to take care of my family and receive the financial blessings from the work I put in. People always complain but it can always be worse. So why complain?
If I never sold 10 million records, or if you take away all the accolades and money and you're just focusing on lyrics, I feel that I'm in the Top 5 with anybody. You can go get anybody in the world, strip us of everything, put us in the studio with a track, and I'm Top 5. I don't care who you bring, I'mma be able to come out standing. That's how I feel about that.
If you're one of five, who else is included in the 'Top 5 Dead or Alive'?
It's so hard because this whole thing is blown out of proportion with the number system -- the Top 10, the Top 5 and all of that. Everybody goes off different things: record sales, deals, this and that, but if you just strip all of that and put it to lyrics, I'm there. But I would always say Jay-Z, Nas, Biggie, Tupac and not even including myself I'll put Eminem and Styles P in there. That's my personal list.
What features and production have you lined up for the new album?
I didn't really get into the big name producers or artists on this album. Most of my features will probably be favors from somebody that I did things for previously. Styles and Sheek [Louch] are going to be on there, and there will be some of the new artists I'm signing, trying to break in and working with. Along with that, maybe a Drake, Weezy or Jay-Z feature -- one or two good ones -- and that's about it. I ain't going too crazy with it.
Does the title 'Top 5 Dead or Alive' indicate that this album is set to be a classic?
Everybody tries to make a classic, but you've just got to make something that's a thirst quencher at the moment when it comes out. People will always remember it like, "I don't know what was happening then, but I remember that 'Top 5 Dead Or Alive' came out and it came out at the right time." All I try to do is fill the void from the last time I came out with some good product that was appreciated.
Will it be a more emotional record like 'I Love You?'
'Top 5 Dead Or Alive' is very heartfelt, with a lot of pain on it. I'm just painting everything around the pain, so there will still be party joints and story joints. It's just classic Jada, with a 2012 twist. I've already shot the video for 'Hold Me Down,' and then I'm going to shoot the rest as viral videos. I'm trying to shoot videos for all of 'I love You.'
The new LOX album has been constantly delayed because of label troubles. Has there been any progress recently?
I think we finally got untangled so hopefully in the near future, sometime around the fourth quarter of 2011, or the first quarter of 2012, we should be coming your way. We're still early in the process now, because we just got the politics out of the way entirely. Now we're able to move on with the creative aspect and get to the next step.
You recently did a benefit concert in Swaziland. Are you enjoying the opportunity to perform internationally?
Yeah, Swaziland is actually a kingdom -- it's the last kingdom in Africa, so that was an experience of a lifetime. I met the king, the prince, the queen, and it was really like 'Coming to America' in real life. I'm supposed to go back to Johannesburg in June and I just got a couple more offers that I'm trying to set up.
Watch Jadakiss' 'Can't Stop Me'