The album the hip-hop scene didn’t know it needed, what a way to make a comeback...

Jadakiss's five year hiatus from recording a studio album has ended with the 13-track ‘Ignatius’, and with it the Yonkers rapper proves he still has the creative vision to create a full-fledged project.

The definition of “Ignatius” is “the fiery one”, and this is apt for the listening experience of this record - akin to being on fire. With multiple noticeable features – 2 Chainz, John Legend, Rick Ross, Emanny, Pusha T, Ty Dolla $ign, Dej Loaf, Nino Man, Millyz – the varied roster means no two tracks are similar, quite a rarity in today’s music scene. And in enlisting multiple producers from both coats – Hitmaka, Ayo & Keyz, Buckwild – Judakiss has also delivered a range of sounds, while staying true to hip-hop.

Opener ‘Pearly Gates’ introduces us to Jadakiss’ familiar raspy vocals, beginning with a slow-tempo piano beat, reminiscent of his previous material – very New York. His voice is so bassy it overpowers the slow beat, commanding attention to the lyrics he is rapping, while still emphasising the beauty of the down tempo rhythm. “You get the picture, I just gotta finish the caption/Still raspy so you don't gotta keep askin'”. This line on the track, establishes a self-awareness that the hip-hop scene’s been waiting a while for Kiss to release some new music in an oversaturated industry.

‘Need Your Best’ is a standout track, featuring Ty Dolla $ign it showcases that knack Jadakiss has for jumping on any beat and still managing to deliver a passionate verse. With the use of a bouncing beat and subtle synthesiser, it creates a G-funk style atmosphere, conjuring up visuals of riding in a low-rider with the top down, head-nodding in the sun city of LA, not a care in the world. Ty Dolla $ign being from the City of Angels adds more to this mood, his smooth voice bringing the laid back vibes while Jadakiss stays true to his East Coast roots by imparting his raw and gritty flow.

‘Catch & Release’ is one of the few solo tracks for Jadakiss here, showcasing his tangible emotional connection to music, and speaking on the hardship of relationships and the pain of heartbreak. The beat is slow-tempo and punchy, with evocative instrumentation – the subtle piano in the background elevates the emotional pain Jadakiss is describing, subtly infusing blues into a classic hip-hop sound.

“Keep sayin' that I'm fine, but the pain is my mind/I can get the money back, but you was playin' with time” is a line that resonates, as many artists shy away from speaking about their true emotions. To see an OG in the hip-hop scene talk about his pain is refreshing, and shows anyone should feel able to without feeling ashamed.

’Ignatius’ is the album the hip-hop scene didn’t know it needed, the raw voice and understanding Jadakiss delivers here offers much-needed respite from the shallow music we seem to be swamped in at the moment. What a way to make a comeback.

8/10

Words: Ramy Abou-Setta

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