NEW YORK — Jason "[artist id="1163822"]Jadakiss[/artist]" Phillips couldn't have picked a better venue to show his skills on Wednesday night than the Highline Ballroom. Though it's in a trendy Meatpacking District hotel, it's also next to a large housing project.
Undoubtedly, the people in the PJs have been some of the Yonkers rapper's main supporters during his almost 15-year career. That 'hood love is what keeps him afloat. Heck, he's given away way more songs on the mixtape circuit than he's sold with two group albums and three solo LPs (including The Last Kiss, which dropped on Tuesday). Jada gets some mainstream recognition here and there, and the respect he has from his peers is reserved for a select mic-elite few. He's rocked with the best of them: Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z, Eminem, Nas, Snoop Dogg, DMX, all the way to Young Jeezy and Lil Wayne. Jada's charisma is such that even people with whom he's had bitter feuds — 50 Cent, Beanie Sigel, Diddy, DJ Green Lantern — have turned the other cheek and reconciled any differences.
And then there's his lyrical talent. At Wednesday's show, one young woman was reciting Kiss' words so vehemently, you could envision empty Dutch Masters boxes lying at her feet, the smell of chicken patties in the air and the sounds of car engines as they drive by. "Just something about my sh--, you'll never figure out./ It's hot, it's burning my mouth, that's why I spit it out."
You couldn't tell this fan she wasn't standing in front of a corner store in a rap cipher but rather crammed into a ballroom for a show put on by MySpace.
Jada started with a very blunt fan favorite "F--- You," one of the highlights from the LOX's We Are the Streets LP. LL Cool Kiss excited the fans, who put their fingers in the air for the bullying chorus, "Only my man's blood is sacred, c---sucker, f--- you."
Like many of Kiss' most popular records, this one didn't exactly become a radio darling. But that's not where you listen to him. You buy the CD, or cop the mixtape, and you play it in the car. You listen to every acidic line on your headphones while riding the bus or taking that walk across campus. Because trust, you will be replaying songs to make sure you hear every line correctly. You can't do that while listening to the radio.
Jadakiss continued with "Put Ya Hands Up," and the spectators raised the roof. The gunpowder-fueled "Show Discipline" and a Jada verse from the "Made You Look" remix followed.
"Money, Power, and Respect," "All for the Love" and "Wild Out" came next. Kiss has verses. He could do it all night.
Shortly after "Knock Yourself Out," Jada brought out [artist id="1715121"]Ryan Leslie[/artist] for the singer's brokenhearted love jam "How It Was Supposed to Be," on which the "Black Babe Ruth" guest-stars. Sheek Louch came out for self-explanatory banger "Kiss Your Ass Goodbye" and their crew anthem "Mighty D-Block (2 Gunz Up)."
Ruff Ryder family member [artist id="1161216"]Swizz Beatz[/artist] made a short appearance while Kiss took a break. The producer performed a medley of his own records, such as "It's Me Bitches" before Jada returned for his new Swizz song "Who's Real."
The last surprise was [artist id="1043"]Busta Rhymes[/artist], who was accompanied by Spliff Star. All three guys performed "Conglomerate," the next single from Busta's B.O.M.B. LP.
"It's my pleasure to say that Jadakiss is not just one of my favorite MCs," Bus boasted. "But we're officially giving Jadakiss a new nickname for tonight. He's the new 'Hitman' for New York."
Jada enforced his rep, going with no beat to end The Last Kiss' "Pain and Torture." "Get my insight from an OG with a good job and all that/ But he loves sniffin'/ Sh-- talker, playboy British Walker/ Rappers be home like, 'God, please get him off us.' "
Other records Kiss played from his new album were "Things I've Been Through," which samples Luther Vandross, and "What If." The latter features Nas, but Mr. Esco was back in California.
Jada's show ended with the Grammy-nominated "Why."