Over more than two decades in the music industry, rapper Jadakiss has gone from one of Yonkers’ best kept secrets to one of the rap game’s best freestylers and well known collaborators.
Nevertheless, the native New Yorker never forgets his roots, and his loyalty to his favorite basketball team -- the Knicks -- has never wavered. Though many fans rejoiced when Carmelo Anthony joined the team, perhaps no one was as excited as Jadakiss to see his longtime pal ultimately return home.
As part of Black Music Month, Jadakiss took the stage at the Apple store in Soho this past Tuesday night to perform songs from his latest release, I Love You (A Dedication to My Fans)-The Mixtape.
Shortly after performing, Knicks Journal caught up with the longtime basketball fan to discuss the NBA Finals, his relationship with Anthony, his upcoming album, and more. Read on for all that, plus, what Jada thinks the future holds for his hometown Knicks!
Q: The NBA Finals just wrapped up and we saw the Mavericks win it all. Do you have any thoughts on the way it all turned out?
A: I thought it was great. It was probably one of the greatest NBA Finals I’ve watched in my life, and I’ve watched all of them since I was a kid. I’ve been a fan since I was about 11 or 12 years old.
Q: Wait a minute... you were ok with LeBron and company losing?
A: I was. I was rooting for Dallas all the way. Jason Terry, along with a couple of other players on the Mavericks, is like my brother over there. Ever since the Mavs beat the Lakers, I knew they would win the championship. When the Lakers got swept, there were no politics involved as far as the Mavericks. They definitely deserved it.
Q: Talking about Terry and the other NBA players you’re close with, I know Carmelo Anthony is in that company. What’s your relationship like with him?
A: Melo is like family to me. As soon as he came to New York, we just had a big celebration because he was simply in the same county as us. Having him around gives us more opportunities to be around each other not only personally, but business wise too. It’s great all around the board.
Q: What did you think of the job Carmelo and the Knicks did this past season?
A: It’s taking the team a while to gel with each other, you know, because they haven’t had a lot of time together. But I thought they looked pretty good after the team finally got over that long losing streak. Hopefully the NBA won’t have that long of a lockout and all of the Knicks will be able to get focused with some summer workouts together and be ready to build on their time in training camp when the next season starts.
They just need some time to gel, and then they will be all right. The Knicks will definitely be in the playoffs again—second round this time at least. I can even see them in the Eastern Conference Finals! I’m not going to jump out the window and say “Knicks in the NBA Finals!” just yet, but they’re still going to go far.
Q: So do you think more time will heal all wounds, or does the team need to go out and get another star to make things work?
A: They definitely need another piece or two. I’d like to see them go out and get a legitimate big man and either someone to backup Chauncey Billups or at least another two guard.
The Knicks really just need someone down in the middle—let them get “the beat down,” you know? They don’t need a big star there like Dwight Howard, just any seven-footer to hold us down!
Q: I know being close to Carmelo, you must have followed the Denver Nuggets for a while and saw a lot of Billups. What are your thoughts on his status after an injury-plagued playoffs series?
A: Hopefully Chauncey gets another contract after this season. The Knicks need to keep him! He’s experienced, man—simply a seasoned veteran. That’s “Big Shot Billups,” right there! He’s got hardware. He’s got software. He’s got all kinds of ‘ware. Respect his conglomerate!
Q: Let’s switch gears to music now. You just performed songs from I Love You (A Dedication to My Fans)-The Mixtape, much to the fans’ delight. What can you tell me about that?
A: My mixtape is something everyone needs to go get! It’s online and in stores right now. It’s just something I really wanted to put out for the fans to thank the people for sticking it out with me the last 12-15 years or so.
Q: Alright so, the mixtape is out now, but I know your next album, Top 5, Dead or Alive, is definitely on it’s way very soon as well. What kind of differences in the sound between the two can fans expect?
A: The album is definitely more edgy. It’s just more edgy and more dark than the mixtape. I go hard on the album, you know? The mixtape has more “zoned out” music that I made just for the ladies. I wanted the mixtape to be a celebration for all my fans, and that’s what it’s come to be.
Q: Working with everyone from Kanye West, Eminem, Biggie, to even Knicks fan Swizz Beatz, you’re definitely a man of many collaborations. That said, I really haven’t heard anything about what’s to come on this new album. There’s nothing you can tell me as to which artists you’ve been working with this time around?
A: Yea man, you’re not going to hear nothing from me about that! We’ve been keeping that tight—trunk tight! You know where they found Bid Laden at? That’s where I record! There’s got to be an element of surprise. If you know what you’re getting for Christmas, there’s nothing to it, man. It’s the surprise that makes it that much more epic.
Q: Out of all of the different hip-hop greats you’ve gotten a chance to work with in your career, do you have a favorite?
A: Biggie is my best and most favorite collaboration ever by far. He’s my mentor. He’s my brother. He’s all of our angel from above watching over us, helping all of us in the rap game keep our sanity as we keep going in this industry while he’s gone. He’s guiding us all and making sure we’re going in the right direction for the most part.
Q: Closing things out there, I know you just started the new website, SoRaspy.com. Tell me about your vision and motivations for the site. I know you’ve gotten the support of Carmelo and some other NBA stars like Tyreke Evans and Kevin Love.
A: The So Raspy website is something a little different. It gives the people a little window as to my interests in basketball and football—even baseball and hockey somewhat. You’ll see some of my fashion interests too. I’m a big sneaker head! There’s even some info on current events on there, with exciting content and of course, music, and other updates as to what else I’ve got going on in my career. So Raspy is all about letting the fans into my world a little bit and getting to know me beyond simply an album or a mixtape. If they take the time to check it out, they may find out we all have similar interests!