When Jadakiss said “Top five, dead or alive, and that’s just off one LP,” it was hard to deny. Rappers who speak truth to power often fulfill the destinies they voice simply through their own active declaration. Want to be the best rapper alive? Just say you are.
Today, the classic Lox debut Money, Power & Respect turns 17 years old, and 17 is a random ass number, but it also affords us an opportunity to look back at perhaps the single best “freestyle” artist of all time – Jada. What do we mean by “freestyle”? To be honest….we don’t really know. A “freestyle” never actually meant going off the dome. That was just what uninformed folk ran with. Traditionally, a freestyle is a rap devoid of any overarching theme. It’s just rapping about whatever the fuck you want. For the sticklers amongst you, here’s loose criteria: there is no chorus. Happy?
So grab a dutch, call up your Haze guy, and listen up to the 20 Best Jadakiss Freestyles Of All Time.
“Be laid up stiff, I spit straight up piff / I did real songs with Big, no made up shits”
Let’s be real: Jada kind of manhandled 50 Cent during their beef. He sounds precise and venomous on every line here. Plus, Kiss over Alchemist is always classic material.
19. “Who Shot Ya”
“Guns in the couch, money in the mattress / And I woulda got the Bentley but I had to pay taxes”
Bar for bar, Jada is one of the most potent spitters ever. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. This proves why. From beginning to end, it’s hypnotic how good he is. He isn’t even saying anything that crazy. It’s just clever, consistent, and cool as fuck.
18. “Calmate (Calm Down)”
“Back by popular demand of the hood / Mean outfit, half ounce, hammer and I’m good”
Jada’s 2004 mixtape The Champ Is Here with DJ Greenlantern is a classic, no doubt about it. To hear him go over the only song Tragedy Khadafi and Nas ever did together only heightens the dramatic effect of this short but effective burst of punchlines. Note Jada’s consistent attention to the color of his cars. When I grow up, I want a milk white Bentley too.
17. “Trading Places”
“What happened to fightin? These dudes get mad, they go home and they start typin’, killin’ the excitement”
Listening to this, Jada’s influence on today’s rappers becomes a little more apparent. The way he lists things at the beginning of the verse isn’t exactly groundbreaking, but it does bring to mind rhymers like Action Bronson or Roc Marciano – and trust, those guys came up on the Lox.
16. “Don’t Get Scared”
“Lover boy, you should stay with your bitch / Fuck rap, I’ll make a car charger for the two way and get rich”
The way Kiss makes songs like these sound effortless had to drive more than a couple of rappers to the brink of depression in the early-to-mid ’00s. He just pummels you with bar after bar. Every line is so nice, it’s almost hard to keep up.
“Some niggas’ll look at their royalties and faint / Money always gone be here, but the loyalty ain’t”
Another reason why Jada is one of the greatest is because he is a multidimensional MC. He had surface-slick punchlines, but he could also hit you with some street wisdom. This freestyle highlights the latter. He’s also a very tactile MC – flowers, his daughter’s eyes, a buffalo. You can almost see the images he spits.
14. “Last Days”
“I done scorched the projects, I’m a boss with logic / Nothing but the man on the horse in my closets”
It’s a bit surreal to hear Kiss spit on “Last Kiss Goodnight,” a RZA beat from the same Biggie album that Jada originally appeared on with Styles and Sheek. Plus, he shouts out CNN. Automatic entry.
13. “End Of Summer”
“Some pill poppin’, see heads still coppin’ / Serve ’em, they walk away with the ill bop’n”
This is a little nothing of a freestyle, but the way Al Qaeda Jada packs so many ill lines into a little over 60 seconds is eye popping. He can take the mundane – like worrying how your Dutches burn – and make you reconsider your life decisions. That’s power.
12. “Shit I Need”
“Mastered every game, hit every dame / Heron era, my man pops hit every vein”
More wisdom, cut with jokes (?) about being brain dead and shooting up heroin. He almost sounds like peak Weezy here, with references to shellfish and his deceased grandmother. Hearing shit like this just makes you marvel at the kind of mind that can come up with this kind of stuff.
11. “4 Da Fam”
“Hollow tips turn grown men back into infants / Two trap houses, Greensboro and Winston”
Again, you can almost touch the images – the waves, the dope in the hole, the stitches. He’s recycled these bars a couple times, but never did he spit them better than over this Amil classic.