Jadakiss Single Courts Controversy
Ruff Ryders/Interscope artist Jadakiss is receiving a lot of attention for his single "Why?," featured on his new album, "Kiss of Death." The song questions President Bush's involvement in the eventsMusicians often voice political opinions in their songs, especially during an election year. Most hip-hop acts, however, have remained mum on the current political environment -- until now.
Ruff Ryders/Interscope artist Jadakiss is receiving a lot of attention for his single "Why?," featured on his new album, "Kiss of Death." The song questions President Bush's involvement in the events of Sept. 11, 2001, with the lyric "Why did Bush knock down the Towers?" The line has prompted some radio stations to edit the track. According to sources at MTV, the "Why?" video was serviced to the network without the lyric.
For Jadakiss, the song is a way to reach people. "I wanted to make a song that could appeal to a broader [audience] -- and not only the hood," he tells Billboard. "I wanted to make something that would touch people at home in white America.
"I was thinking, 'What's the one thing that everyone has in common? Questions.' Everyone asks why, so I decided to write a song asking questions that everyone wants [answers] to," he adds.
As for the controversial line, the Yonkers, N.Y., rapper's view is unwavering. "I just felt [Bush] had something to do with that," Jadakiss says, referring to the events of Sept. 11. "That's why I put it in there like that. A lot of my people felt that he had something to do with it."
Some programmers say they were serviced only with the version that omitted the line -- in both the radio edit and the "clean" version. "Actually, the uncensored version of that line [on the album] is probably my favorite in the whole song," says one PD, who asked to remain anonymous.
"Since they can hear us in [Washington] D.C., and I don't want [the] Secret Service knocking down my door in the middle of the night," the PD adds, "I'll stick to the clean version."
While some stations air an edited version of the song, other stations like WGCI Chicago and WWPR New York have opted not to. "I saw the video, where they edited the [song], but when it came to playing it on the radio, we never thought we should [edit it]," WWPR PD Michael Saunders says. "Freedom of speech gives him the right to say what he does. No one edited 'Get Low' by Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz."
Interscope head of rap promotions Kevin "Always Bet On" Black isn't concerned about the controversy. "'Why?' is the biggest record I've worked," he says. "It touches the heart and says things that a lot of people are afraid to say."
Black isn't the only one who thinks that. "Kiss of Death," debuted at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 last week, selling more than 246,000 copies in its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Meanwhile, "Why?," which features R&B singer Anthony Hamilton, continues to climb the charts. The cut is No. 16 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart this week.
The type of controversy that surrounds "Why" can end up helping an artist, and Jadakiss knows it. "They're censoring me all over the place, and that's good," he says. "That means it's reaching out to everybody. When I made the song, I wrote it to be political, controversial, and to stir some things up.
"Somebody has to take the forefront and sacrifice," he adds. "That's what I do -- I sacrifice myself."