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ALBUM PREVIEW: Fat Joe’s Elephant In The Room

As everyone got comfy in the confines of New York City’s famed Chung King studios, Fat Joe makes it clear that he is very confident in his new work. The South Bronx native just wrapped up his eighth album Elephant In The Room (Terror Squad / Imperial) and is very confident he has a heater on his hands: “Ladies and gentleman, what we have here is that hardcore, gangster sh*t.” Currently slated for a March 11th release date, the title describes his standing in the game. He’s the elephant, and Rap is the room. Simple enough right?

 

All in all Joe still feels like he hasn’t received his just due. Even as he jokingly admits “They doubting the kid after all these years,” you know there is some truth behind his jest. But when you really think of it, he might have a valid point. Originally known as Fat Joe Da Gangsta, Crack has been putting it down on waxx since 1993. Fortunately he has progressed significantly from his rudimentary flows found on his debut Represent, eventually making major records such as “John Blaze,” “We Thuggin’,” “What’s Luv,” “Lean Back,” and “Make It Rain.” Most importantly he discovered one of the illest and pure MC’s to go down in history; Big Pun.

 

With the room now full, Joe takes off the chunky jewelry and settles in. He grabs the remote and hits play to begin.

 

“The Fugitive” (Intro)

Produced By Street Runner

 

If intros are intended to set the mood for the rest of the project, then you shouldn’t expect too many poppy efforts on the disc. This is dark and bangs out with hard drums and a looming soul sample to match. Joe goes for extra swag points with the slurring of the accent. If Latinos using the dreaded “N Word” makes you feel in a way, then you should skip this.

 

“Ain’t Saying Nothing” featuring Plies and Dre of Cool & Dre

Produced By Cool & Dre

 

A good contender to be a club hit. Accordingly Joe talks big money, flossing all way to the bank and back. Your man Plies goons it up on the second verse, while Christina Milian’s hubby Dre does that “I don’t know if I’m singing or rapping” thing on the hook. The beat is up-tempo and heavy on the horns straight from the Motif keyboard.  

 

“The Crackhouse” featuring Lil Wayne

Produced By Steve Morales

 

The first street joint to leak off the album. With a hyped up Lil Wayne on the hook, Crack is talking real greasy on this one (“Bullets are wholesale”). He even takes a quick swipe at 50 Cent (“Convicts in my plane when we roll up / And They hustle ye’ not Vitamin Water”). Steve Morales who did the “Diamonds” beat for Fabolous utilizes some thick guitars to fuel both energetic performances. Joey got ‘em.

 

“Coca Baby”

Produced By Danja Handz

 

Another club joint but not as easy on the ears as the former. Monstrous drums are the main draw here. You get a sexy voiced female repeating an already monotonous hook (“Coca Baby, you know it’s me”). At this point when you hear rhymes like “Call me Joe Blizzard when I’m up at Suez,” you start to want just a little more skill injected into dude’s lyrics but it never happens.

 

“Get It For Life” Featuring Pooh Bear

Produced By DJ Khaled

 

Joe makes it clear he’s trying to get that guap until he drops here. Take this as his version of thug motivation but flipped Miami style; as the synth notes sound like they were jacked from Scarface. You also get your standard DJ Khaled drops screaming they’re the best and Scott Storch’s right hand Pooh Bear on the hook. Nothing new you haven’t heard elsewhere.

 

“I Won’t Tell” featuring J. Holiday

Produced By LV

 

Joe’s first blatant attempt at commercial radio. It isn’t as watered down as one would imagine though. This is more grown up than anything with this selection living in the family tree of “Excuse Me Miss.” A lot of materialistic name checking for his wifey throughout the song, but it seems to come with the territory these days. The light drum pattern makes it easy for J. Holiday’s vocals to glide over. Not mad at this one.

 

“K.A.R. (Kill All Rats)”

Produced By Street Runner

 

Rhyme wise this is just more standard Fat Joe gangster fare with talk of guns, getting paper, and leaving your mans on the sidewalk. Street Runner does provide a hell of a beat though. A searing soul sample in the vein of an old Negro spiritual blares throughout the record saying: “I was born and raised in the ghetto.” This song is definitely a standout production wise, lyrically-not so much.

 

“300 Brollic”

Produced By LV

 

The title of track says it all. A clip from the movie epic 300 sets the surging tone, as opera style chants wail over loud drums making this feel like something you would march out to war with. Joe implements his bully persona with braggadocio bars on how he is not to be played with. So don’t play with him.

 

“Thank God For That White”

Produced By DJ Premier

 

This is by far the best record out of the lot. A classic Primo beat featuring some chopped piano keys blended with some gloomy church organs all topped off with his signature cuts. He even sneaks in some xylophones for extra credit in between! Fat Joe still keeps it street but doesn’t go overboard with the tough talk. Heads familiar with the Premier recipe book will liken this to CNN’s “Invincible,” or The LOX’s “Recognize.”

 

VERDICT:

At the conclusion of the listening session, Joe got up from his seat and surveyed the room. He informed everyone he is hoping to keep the album to a lean twelve songs, with no frivolous interludes or skits included. The Terror Squad general asked the room if there were any questions from the crowd. No one said a peep though. He reiterates this is some of his best work and looks forward to the public hearing it. Being the class act he is, he shakes some hands, gives his thanks and proceeds to make a beeline to the door.

 

With The Elephant In The Room, Fat Joe isn’t going to floor anyone with stellar metaphors and remarkable concepts. Run of the mill lyrics aside, there are still some hot joints on there. With this project, one can tell that Joe is really starting to carve out his niche. Whether this album will be on everyone’s year end list is yet to be seen though.

 

 Fat Joe feat. Lil’ Wayne

“The Crackhouse”

Fat Joe feat. J. Holiday

“I Won’t Tell”

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