Jadakiss breaks down the craft of rap lyricism at Art Basel


Jadakiss is one of the top all-time lyricists in hip-hop. For nearly two decades, the Yonkers, New York, native, along with his comrades Sheek and Styles P, has pushed the culture of rap forward with precision when it comes to lyricism.

During Art Basel in Miami, Jadakiss and the Lox served as special guests during the Gold Bungalow event presented by Dutch Masters.

Before a special performance, Jadakiss took a moment to share what it takes to achieve greatness in the craft of emceeing.

For Jadakiss, his love for music came when he was introduced to it by family members. “[I fell in love with rap] by hearing the music they were playing as I was growing up,” Jadakiss said. “They introduced me to hip-hop. My early influences range from The Furious Five, Run-D.M.C., [and] The Sugar Hill Gang. When it came to R&B, it was The Whispers and Luther Vandross. My mom was playing that music at the crib.”

Jadakiss soon began to hone his skills as an emcee during his teenage years. His distinctive voice and ability to paint vivid pictures with words set him apart from other rappers of his generation. We delved into the process of how he crafts the perfect lyric.

“Creating the perfect lyrics is not a process, it’s just something that comes in your brain,” Jadakiss said. “When I create lyrics, I just go off of energy. Sometimes I write down my lyrics on my phone and most times I remember the lyrics in my head.”

While lyricism is an important aspect of hip-hop, it often can take a back seat to the live performance. There is an art to moving the crowd and controlling the moment.

“You have to give the crowd energy to feed off of and they will give it back,” Jadakiss said. “If you go on stage acting sluggish and nonchalant, that’s how the crowd will be. But if you let them know you appreciate them and do call and response, you’ll get a good reception.”

Another key aspect in hip-hop is the ability to remain consistent. Rap is a genre that thrives off newness. Veteran rappers can have a difficult time navigating the youth-driven scene. But Jadakiss has continued to remain a key figure in rap years after his initial debut. With a new album set to be released with the Lox, Filthy America, Jadakiss has also embraced the art of longevity.

The art of remaining consistent is keeping your ear to the street and the new music,” he said. “Embracing the culture for what it is. You can’t get a nice heat wave and then forget about the people. The more you put out music, the more strength and power you possess.”

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