Jadakiss’ new single, Who’s Real, debuted on NYC radio this weekend, riding the airwaves on a careening, tremendous beat from a familiar collaborator, none other than his usual cohort, Swizz Beatz. The Yonkers-based producer really hit the nail on the head with this one, creating the sort of old-school, triumphant Ruff Ryders beat (complete with horns and hand-clapping) that Jadakiss can really thrive on. And while Swizzy’s chorus (which he sings himself) isn’t exactly brilliant lyrically (The entire chorus consists of him repeatedly rhyming: Who’s phony, whose fake? That’s the type of people I hate. Who’s real, who’s not, she’s real, but he’s not.”), it happens to be infectiously catchy, somewhat in spite of itself. Swizz has never been noted as a wordsmith, and he’s never tried to appear to be one, and in this way, with the simple but effective chorus, he sort of fulfills the message of the song. The beat is something I could picture an invading army from the 1800s riding in on.
And while the collaboration between Jada and Swizz Beatz is nothing to be surprised by, Jadakiss throws a huge curveball at us by giving a cameo to up and coming Atlanta rapper OJ Da Juiceman. While many of the hip hop purists who populate Jadakiss’ fanbase will almost certainly not approve of Juiceman’s appearance, it’s a great move by Jadakiss. Not only does he spice the track up with a completely different style of rapping, but he shrewdly reaches out to rap fans on the other side of the Mason-Dixon line on the eve of the release of his new album, The Last Kiss. Now that the song is receiving radio rotation, it will be interesting to see how listeners in New York take to OJ Da Juiceman. So far in my travels, I haven’t met anybody from north of Baltimore who will declare that they are a fan of his work (Outside of myself). On this track, his lyrics won’t exactly make your jaw drop, but he contributes more by lending both his nonchalant, southern trap-star swagger and raw authenticity to the track.
As for Jadakiss, this isn’t Jadakiss trying to make a track for the ladies, like he did with his first single for the album, the Neyo collaboration By My Side. This is Jadakiss in street mode, which at the end of the day is his strongest suit, and he’s close to his finest form - but not quite. He makes his intentions clear early on, opening the first verse by spitting, “Guns gonna clap, packs gonna move, blood getting’ drawn, skin getting’ bruised, real gonna win, the fake gonna lose, the love overpowers the hate by tools, all they left was the yellow tape and the shoes, it’s real when the funeral or wake make the news.” Another highlight is his line “Pocket full of cash, wallet full of plastic, in and out the lane, dipping through the traffic. We ain’t hustling no more, we doing gymnastics, couple of flips and than stash it.”
All in all, this isn’t the greatest work from any of these guys, but it has definitely increased demand for Jadakiss’ new album, showed that Swizz Beatz is still on fire, and introduced OJ Da Juiceman to a new demographic. It’s a pretty good, fun song, which I would give about a seven and a half or eight out of ten, and I definitely wouldn’t mind hearing this trio collaborate on more tracks in the future.