Though Jadakiss is mostly heralded as an accomplished but somehow still underrated MC, he did declare himself "top five dead or alive," and to this day, he sometimes still spits like he's worthy of that assertion. "Death Wish" is about the grim realities of street violence, namely fatalities, and 'Kiss completely loses himself in the Alchemist production with an alarming deftness.
The multis roll off effortlessly: "Loyalty is thin, the tension is thick/Look at a broke nigga's face when you mention a brick/Stick up kids come around when they sense that you're rich." There's a cohesive narrative that's also wholly supported by valiant lyricism on Jada's behalf, which leads into an equally dizzying chorus that exposes the morose detail of a casualty: "When your heart stops and your body gets breathless/And help don't come in enough time, that's a death wish."
The song amps up a notch when Wayne borrows the rhyme scheme of the chorus and begins his verse: "I be on that way left shit/Better get right or get left shit/Better hit right or get left hit." It sounds like basic slick talk, but the subtle nuance of "hit right or get left hit" is what makes Wayne verses such a delight. By the next line, he's telling an unknown opposition "motherfuck your guest list" and settling on the fatal decision of "let's just kill him and get breakfast" with sobering calmness. Wayne justifies this stark viewpoint with an unsettling note about his hometown: "I'm from the mecca of the reckless, with a record-breaking death list/The reckless and the neglecters think the election won't affect us," making sure to rhyme every word along the way.
"Death Wish" is a toe-to-toe, verse-to-verse competition, and the listener who's a fan of rap ultimately wins. —Ernest Baker