A blog about hip-hop, rap music, its trends, and an overall thought about the music an culture, without indulging in gossip. A real set of opinions and discussions, not based on the popular sentiment, but examining and challenging it.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Fat Joe- the Elephant in the Room

When you talk about the top artists of the south you have to include Fat Joe right? I mean yeah he's from the bronx but when is the last time you saw him with anyone from New York? Remy Martin? they don't even like each other. Joe has seemed to struggle since the death of Big Pun with finding an identity. This is a guy who's been in the game at least a decade is as old as Jay-Z or really close to it yet he is caught up in trying to establish himself every year it seems. Look new artists even some of the old guys struggle to make moves.

First off everyone knows the single "Never tell" which is getting spins more at the help of Jae Holliday than Joe "crack" himself. The lyrics of which are average to terrible at their best. The album has some stronger points lyrically like "The Fugitive" where Joe addresses both the attacks on him saying the "n" word. the cascading beat bangs well enough for southern and east coast heads which helps a lot.

The album features plenty of features which range fro predictable; Plies and Dre on "Ain't sayin nothing" which most perfectly describes the verses, and Lil Wayne on "The crackhouse" which sounds like wayne wrote the verses too, and he still manages to steal the show on the hook, though Joe manages to throw a shot at 50 cent when he says "hustling crack/not vitamin water"; to the surprising with KRS-One exchanging bars with Joe on "My Conscience". The hypnotizing beat shows that Joe still has some semblance of skill and ability in him as KRS seems to "direct" the song as he performs as Joe's conscience. This is easily the album highlight and I'm not a KRS fan. He also has the unknown in Pooh Bear who lends his vocals to several tracks, one of which is the Scott Storch produced "Preacher on a Sunday Morning". The track isn't anything new but Joe manages to handle some business on it.

Joe manages to step up his flow from the previous albums on this attempt but he is still far from the "Don Cartegena" days when he was in his prime. For the most part the past three or four years have found Joe being relegated to a player beyond his prime trying to hang on for a ring, think Gary Payton or Dikembe Mutombo at the latter stages of their careers. Elephant in the Room proves Joe can still get the juice (or the clear or the cream apparently)flowing in his system and be able to create some quality material. However, with his time in the game you come to expect a lot more when it comes to depth and consistency, not to be regressing and talking about the same things in the same way as 12 years ago.

Rating: 3/5

Rick Ross- Trilla

Okay so the first time i heard Rick Ross I just figured he was the Miami version of Young Jeezy. I was slightly wrong, Rick generally has a better flow than the aforementioned snowman although just about everything else about them music wise is virtually the same. The hood I presume has been clamoring for the sophomore release from Ross. Myself, I was non-comittal figuring i could live without it. Alas after being pushed back Trilla is out.

The first single "Speedin" with the pied piper, R. Kelly could have been left off the album truthfully. The aim seems to get radio play by having Kells on the track, the song works less than the Beanie Sigel/ R. Kelly song, and even less than the second single from this album "The Boss" which features T-pain, with Ross doing his usual boasting of being a drug kingpin and balling across the city. (worth mentioning i feel, is that Ross is actually on one of the truly believable characters when it comes to street cred).

on "Here I am" which costars Nelly and his singer Avery Storm, Ross attempts to cross over and capture the "Black Girl Lost" crowd. The attempt covers in that way, but at the same time Ross doesn't seem to come across as inspiring as most artists with these type of songs. Ross seems more gleeful and being able to exert control over a "buss it baby" (my term not his this time). An even worse failure is the lame attempt to show some contrition over past hustling with "I'm only human."

Amazingly Lil wayne only shows up (and shows up the host MC) on one track "Luxury Tax", on which Trick Daddy and Young Jeezy also drop verses. The best song on the album lyrically is "Maybach music" because of the verse contributed by Jay-Z, who comes correctly within a theme you could understand looking at the title of the song while Ross spits a verse that is indistinguishable from the rest on the album.

Thus the fatal flaw for Rick Ross. If you just want to hear the same song about the street his hustle skills, ice, chains, whips, balling and being a boss in the city then I would assume you would be satisfied. However, the album leaves things feeling empty and wanting a little bit more in the way of authentic emotions from Mr. Ross. That is where artists like Wayne, Jay-z, and even Jeezy seperate themselves in a mediocre rap world.

Rating: 2/5