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Kiss of Death (Ruff Ryders)


A rap album's potential can be gauged by its guest appearances. Too few and things can get boring quickly, but too many and it's likely the artist in question lacks imagination. Kiss of Death is plagued by the latter. Less than half of the actual songs feature the headliner; Death becomes a hip-hop Love Boat, with stop-bys from Kanye West, Pharrell Williams and Eminem. How bad can it be with that lineup, right? Pretty bad. All the firepower in the world won't rescue mediocre material. Even back in his Ruff Ryder and Lox days, Jada wasn't much of a rapper. He got by instead on attitude and wordplay, and his 2001 solo debut scored on both fronts. But this time, he sounds uninspired. Death's production lacks innovation, and Jada kills too much time bragging about how controversial he is. Controversial? Jadakiss? Hardly. But when he focuses and spits over an effective beat, Jada can still turn heads. Why those niggas push pounds of powder?/Why did Bush knock down the towers? he asks on "Why," a stream of blunt inquiries. But then he ruins the moment with his trademark Eh-heh!, an annoying, recurring, over-the-top whinny that renders Jada the Howard Dean of hip-hop.

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