Live: Jadakiss Goes In at the Highline Ballroom

As Hot97 radio personality Angie Martinez said, in her clear-eyes-full-hearts-can't-lose pre-concert pep talk: "I was gonna go home and get changed, but then I thought, why? This is New York, baby! This is us! This is New York hip-hop. I got my black-hoodie!" She had a point. Nobody wants to break out the Air Yeezy's (except, uh, this guy) or their Asher Roth for Abercrombie button-up for a Jadakiss show. As a dead man once said, "Come as you are." And there's something off in wearing your Sunday best while screaming along the words, "Kill your mom/Kill your pops/Kill your seed" with the Yonkers veteran.

Jadakiss was playing the Highline Ballroom last night in honor of the release of his third solo album, the satisfying if uneven Last Kiss, which was released on Tuesday. Due to the presence of MySpace Music's cameras, and the impatient tapping feet of whatever tiny fraction of the possible 70 million viewers those cameras might've entailed, the show actually started quasi-promptly at 9:30PM--practically a dawn patrol in hip-hop show terms.

Jadakiss was very much the center of attention; unencumbered by hype-men/cameramen/security guards/juggling acts, planting himself firmly at center-stage. This was his night, and he knew what people were there to see. Verse-for-verse Jadakiss is an absolute titan, and the crowd willingly got served as he jabbed through L.O.X. and solo classics like "Fuck You," "Money, Power, Respect," and "Show Discipline." After throwing an early haymaker with a quick sprint through his classic verse ("I copped your shit/Now I break weed up on it") from Nas' "Made You Look (Remix)" Jada down-shifted for some coffee and conversation with Ryan Leslie, who bounded onstage for a run through "How It Was Supposed to Be."

You go to these things to have threats carved out of granite spit at you, and everything else is icing. You could levy criticisms that 'Kiss remained too static, spending most of the evening locked in place, jabbing his finger or otherwise pantomiming his lyrics. But you only noticed that when super-subs Sheek Louch (a house-quaking "2 Gunz Up") and Busta Rhymes (an elastic, aerobic take on "Respect My Conglomerate (Remix)") joined him. Bounding around, ushering Kiss from one side of the stage to the other, the two urged him to soak up the adoration from the generally boisterous crowd.

After a quick audience census showed an decided gender disparity, Jada announced that he was going to do what he was about to do anyway: "Ladies buy albums." The rapper then trudged through his softer side, playing femme-friendly tracks like "By Your Side" to a predominantly non-plussed crowd. And after a surging, "We Gon' Make It," he erred again, ending the show on the downer double-feature of "Letter to Big" and "Why," to the latter of which the rapper might've appended: "Why does Jadakiss feel the need to do anything but go hard?"


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