- Tue, 2010-08-31 17:02
New York veteran Fat Joe has never been a rapper known for his reservation, happy-go-lucky beats or sunny disposition. To discover that there is a shady aspect to his person that has as yet gone unaired might therefore come as something of a surprise, but that’s exactly the claim tabled on his new album The Darkside, the first volume of a proposed trilogy.
The album kicks off, not unnaturally, with Intro. Scram Jones’ production lends a sense of occasion and Fat Joe can’t resist taking a pop at long-time rival 50 Cent with the line “we gon throw the biggest party when Curtis dies,” which comes as part of a hard-hitting flow that sets the tone for the rest of the album. Valley Of Death further establishes the mood with Cool & Dre’s classic-sounding beat bubbling ominously under verses that see Fat Joe rhyming with impressive dexterity. I Am Crack completes an effective opening trio that signals an album laden with intent.
Musically, The Darkside occupies ‘old-school updated’ territory, sampling blaxploitation funk and soul but cutting it with 2010 beats and synths to great success. Lyrical variety comes courtesy of a clutch of big-name collaborations including Young Jeezy, Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes, who provide the albums three high-points with (Ha Ha) Slow Down, Heavenly Father and At Last Supremecy respectively. The latter sees Busta lend his virulent snarl to the album’s closer, on which Fat Joe deals with the criticism that he has lost his way in recent years, asserting that he’s back on top regardless of what may have gone before.
With these twelve tracks of high-impact hip hop, characterised throughout by impressive production and flows, it’s a claim that stands up to scrutiny. While recent albums may have seen Fat Joe posturing and playing the gangster with the best of them, the authenticity that they lacked is present on The Darkside in abundance. Bring on Volume 2.