Last year, we had the chance to enjoy 2 albums from one member of the hip-hop group, The Lox, Styles P and boy did he deliver. This year in early 2020, we get to have a new album from another member of The Lox and one of my favorite lyricists in hip-hop, Jadakiss. Besides featuring appearances in other artists' songs and a mixtape with Fabolous, we haven't heard an album from Jada since his 2015's album called Top 5 Dead and Alive but now, he's back with Ignatius which was released on March 6th, 2020 under Def Jam Recordings. The album features John Legend, Pusha T, Rick Ross, Ty Dolla $ign, 2 Chainz, Emanny, Nino Man, DeJ Loaf and others. I can't tell you folks how excited I was before pressing play for this album so I could hear Jadakiss spit some sick rhymes and lyrics. The album was supposed to release the week before on February 28th, but Kiss delayed the album to honor and respect the late 20-year-old rapper Pop Smoke, and the album is named after the Ruff Ryders A&R and record producer Ignatius "Icepick Jay" Jackson who passed away in 2017 of cancer. He can also be seen be on the center of the t-shirt that Jadakiss is wearing on the album cover.
The album starts off with a melodic instrumental on the song "Pearly Gates" where Jadakiss raps about keeping his mind focused no matter what the circumstances that happened in his life. This introduction song sets the tone of the album as Jadakiss dedicates it to his friend Ignatius Jackson known as Icepick Jay. The following song summarizes why I'm a Jadakiss fan. With the help of another lyrical slaughtering rapper named Pusha T, "Hunting Season" is where the rappers are hunting terrible rappers for poisoning the hip-hop game and lying in their rhymes. The production of the beat is so good that it makes it sounds like a hunting music scene from a movie. It's nice to see at 44 years old, Jadakiss did not lose his rapping and lyrical touch. "Keep It 100" tones down the album as Jadakiss gets personal on this song. On the 1st verse, he addresses his woman by saying no matter how great or bad the times are, who's right or who's wrong, he just wants a 100% relationship commitment, not less. In the second verse, he addresses one of his friends who let him down when a situation got the feds involved. This friend who Jada considered as a brother was nowhere to be found and even though the charges were let go, so did the friendship. This was a very nice song that showed a personal mature side of Jadakiss. The tone down and personal vibe continues with the song "Catch & Release" as Jadakiss opens up about being hurt from a girl he loved and trusted but now he's trying to fight the pain and move on. The vibe of the album switches up with the song "Me" which was the first single of the album. On this sweet and joyful instrumental, Jada raps about his accomplishments, his history, his role and status, and what he has done in his hip-hop career. The producer of the song, Bryan-Michael Cox who is also known for producing a lot of the biggest R&B hits in the 2000s, did a good job of using the sample of Peabo Bryson's “Give Me Your Love”. The song is then followed by the skit "Anna May".
The first half of the album was enjoyable, some songs were personal, but the production was well done. However, the second half of the album started with a couple of fillers. We had "Need Your Best" featuring Ty Dolla $ign. The instrumental and vibe were good, but I felt it didn't fit Jadakiss's style of rapping and "Angels Getting Pedicured" featuring 2 Chainz did not do it for me. Then we have the song "Kisses To The Sky" which has a smooth hip-hop groovy beat featuring Rick Ross and Emanny. We got two nice verses from Jadakiss and the way Rick Ross entered the beat on the third verse was great with his Maybach Music signature. We also must give it up to Emanny who did a good job on the hook as well. The skit "My Condolences" is where Jadakiss pays his condolences to his longtime friend IcePick Jay. The album is 3 songs away from being over and Jadakiss decided to go again on a personal deep route. With the help of Nino Man, Millyz and DeJ Loaf on the hook, "Gov't Cheese" is where all rappers rap about enduring the pain of life because it makes you stronger and to embrace life at the same time. The instrumental has a mini dark vibe but the drums on the beat overshadow that with a motivational vibe. The next song "I Know" featuring John Legend is the deepest and meaningful song of the album. This where we see more of Jason Terrance Phillips and less of Jadakiss. The first verse is about the mother of Jada's 3 sons and Jada took the time to apologize for messing up a lot of times with her. The second verse is dedicated to IcePick Jay where Jada reminisces about the good times he had with him and how he helped Jadakiss hip-hop career by being his A&R. Jadakiss closes the album with the song "Closure" where he dedicates the songs to all his family and close friends he lost throughout the years. He also dedicates the song to his personal friends and rappers who passed away too soon like Kobe and Gigi Bryant, Nipsey Hussle, Mac Miller, Juice WRLD, Pop Smoke and others.