Like many true Hip-Hoppers out there, I have very much been looking forward to the upcoming Jadakiss solo album, so while at a major bookstore the other day, and paging through the July issue of The Source magazine, I came across a feature article on Kiss. It started out fine talking about how Mary J. Blige discovered the LOX (Jadakiss' group) in 1995; the financial settlement between Ruff Ryders and Bad Boy in order for Jadakiss and the LOX to leave Bad Boy and join the double R etc.... And then I got to this part in reference to how some criticize Jadakiss for sounding the same on every record
"I take that as criticism but a whole state got on because of me. Philly's on right now because of me. Everybody's tryin' to sound like me. I switched it up for the album but it's the voice anyway. You'll never be able to get the voice."
But not everybody buys into the idea that Jada gave birth to an entire city's sound. "Don't nobody from Philly sound like Kiss," says City of Brotherly love ambassador Beanie Sigel, " I'm Philly! What's messed up is that Kiss got mad love in Philly" But that's not the only static in the air. For the past year, there's been speculation about a musical beef between the LOX camp and Jay Z's Roc-A-Fella family, more specifically, Jada and Jigga. Young gun coming for the older gun, older gun holding down the crown? Rumors Jada quickly dismisses as media hype and street lore.
But, again, it's not the streets that rhymed on a recent DJ Clue Heavy Components 3-mix CD over R. Kelly's "Fiesta" remix beat. It was Kiss starting off his freestyle using the same cadence as Jigga did on the Kelly collabo. " After the fight, we gonna catch your baaaahd-dy, then/Lay a nigga in the hotel lahhhb-by, then/ after that probably toss the fifth."
"My songs is addressed to everybody," Jada clears up. "Every rapper- independent, major label, if you tryin' to get on, everybody! I'm a man that deals with respect. I'm a show [Jay-Z] respect as long as he shows me respect. Somebody breaks that line, that barricade, then you might see [that battle]
Hopefully, it ain't gotta go to that."
The Source is at it again. It was just months ago that they were hyping up a supposed beef between Jay-Z and Nas. But they could not get either of the principal parties to go on record dissing each other so they get Jay-Z's protégé, Memphis Bleek to drop some inflammatory words about Nas' crew.
Now, they want Jay-Z and Jadakiss to go at it.
Having spent over a decade of my life around Hip-Hop artists as a fan, friend and adviser, I can tell you with authority, that rappers talk about other rappers in private. Forget the handshakes, pounds and hugs, there is a competitive spirit that runs through all of the great MC's like Kiss and Jay-Z. Usually the comments pertain to style, lyrics, beats and marketing. The rappers themselves know it goes on. These type of comments are not the problem.
The problem is when the media gets involved and makes it seem as if one rapper is deliberately calling another one out, in public. Then, the egos kick in and charge and counter-charge fly back and forth. The danger in all of that is that this is not the NBA, where Shaq , Iverson and Kobe all think they are the best and talk about each other in private and some rare cases in public.
This is Hip-Hop, where unfortunately, people have been stabbed and shot over words and allegations.
Now, if you read the quotes carefully you will notice the Kiss does an excellent job of not adding fuel to the fire. Even though he was obviously pushed, he still maintains that he wants this all to be about respect.
But you can tell that this reporter, Shaheem Reid, was desperate to have his article break the news of this supposed "Jay-Z- Jadakiss beef". If you read his quotes you can almost literally see him tripping over himself running to the phone to call Beanie Sigel to tell him what Jadakiss allegedly said to him about Philly.
And we think that Beanie handled it well. He did not attack Kiss, even though he obviously was offended at what Kiss allegedly said. He maintained how popular Jadakiss is in Philadelphia.
(And for the record, as much as we love Kiss, we see no resemblance between his flow and Sigel's. We are not sure, who in Philly he may be referring to, if he actually said what The Source said he did).
In addition, we don't see Jadakiss' verse on the D.J. Clue mix-CD as any type of evidence of a smoking gun. Especially since it is D.J. Clue who is actually signed to Jay-Z's record label Roc-A-Fella. We doubt that Clue is going to intentionally put a record on one of his mix CDs where one of his friends, Jadakiss, disses another one of his friends and business partner, Jay -Z.
The interesting thing about all of this is that The Source magazine just had a summit last year with Rev. Al Sharpton where the issue of rap feuds was discussed.
The Source in many ways is like the CIA or FBI doing intelligence work among groups they want to destroy. They like to throw the rock into the crowd and then hide their hand. When ill feelings, envy, resentment and feuds are fed by articles that they print in their magazine and people point the finger at them, The Source takes the attitude of "Who, Me?". They express concern about ending violence in Hip-Hop and then they run stories that pit one rapper against the other. Even if they aren't outright agents of the government sent to destroy Hip-Hop, the effect is the same. So, what is the real difference between a paid agent and one who does the same work for the sake of magazine sales and advertising revenue?
The interesting part about the Jadakiss article is that they place in the center of one of the pages, the quote that they attribute to Jadakiss supposedly about Jay-Z. That quote, lifted and put front and center in bold-print is designed to catch the attention of people who rapidly flip through the pages. It is deliberate.
The really unfortunate thing about this is that Jadakiss had some glowing words and respect for Jay-Z in an article in another Hip-Hop magazine article I read a few months back. I believe in XXL magazine. He even thinks Jay-Z is a great businessman and said so. Why didn't The Source mention that?
The sad thing about this is that Hip-Hop artists feel they need The Source magazine to sell records therefore they make themselves available. Even though Ruff Ryders was reportedly infuriated over The Source's record reviews, or lack thereof of their artists, they make Jadakiss available for this interview. They too are responsible for feeding into this stuff just because they want the exposure that The Source magazine provides. They would have been better off, in the long run, not talking to the magazine, if they believe their artists can't be fairly treated or reviewed.
But Hip-Hop artists and executives can't have it both ways. They can't complain about The Source and then beg them to put their artists on the cover or do stories on them etc...
At the Hip-Hop Summit, two weeks ago, while walking to an elevator in the Hyatt hotel, I had a discussion with Chris Lighty of Violators Records and Management. I mentioned how I noticed at the Hip-Hop Summit how special accommodations were made for CNN, WNBC, and other mainstream cable and TV networks. I then compared that to how some Hip-Hop, alternative and Black media were handled at the event - not that well, at times.
I said to Chris that the thing about all of that which is so interesting is that Russell Simmons and all of the rappers will be complaining the next day about how the event was covered by CNN, NBC, CBS etc
Chris then said to me that while that may be true "we need the exposure from them". I then asked him, "what good is the exposure if it is distorted?"
Maybe Jadakiss, Jay - Z , the Ruff Ryders and Roc-A-Fella and everybody else in Hip-Hop should keep that question in mind whenever they speak to The Source.
Is a cover story, review and article in The Source worth all that comes with it?
Like it says in the Bible, in the book of Mark 8: 36:
" For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the world, and lose his own soul?"