All Or Nothing

Artist: Fat JoeTitle: All Or NothingRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Martin A. Berrios

With over ten years in the game, Fat Joe has yet to get his just due as one of the few rappers to continuously step up his master of ceremony game. He has developed the once sophomoric delivery first heard on Represent, into a more laid back cocky flow that helped him lock down last summer along Terror Squad. Now on his appropriately titled sixth album, the Boogie Down’s last hope, attempts to legitimize himself within the battle of the boroughs. Unfortunately, All Or Nothing (Terror Squad/Atlantic) does not stack high enough to justify the Don’s recent King Of NY claims.

On the opener “Does Anybody Know”, the Bronx Bomber sets a stern tone with tales of his come up on the streets and the ambition that fueled it on a sped up vocal sample driven track. Joe goes hardest on “Safe 2 Say (The Incredible)” though. “On my waist you know I gotta keep that oven/for you gingerbread ass niggas, the heats coming/on high/ Joey Crack I/bake the cake serve you niggas humble pie”. Just Blaze cooks up a heater by incorporating Chuck D’s legendary “Once again it’s the incredible” line from PE’s “Bring The Noise” over some menacing guitar licks. In house Terror Squad production duo Cool & Dre are not to be outshined, as they hold down Joe on the albums first single “So Much More”. Other highlights include the DJ Khaled produced “Beat Novacaine.”

Still to this day, Joe has tasted minimal mainstream success with previous cross over smashes (“Lean Back” and “What’s Love”), but has yet to lock down his spot alongside the Jay-Z’s of the Rap world. On All Or Nothing, Crack tries to recreate this magic but can’t effectively nail down a hit. Joe enlists the help of Nelly on the hook and super producer Scott Storch on “Get It Poppin”. The potent lineup that reads so well on paper doesn’t translate into the grand slam he hoped it would have been (Think about when you only appreciate a track when you hear it five years later on your local radio station’s throwback hour). And addressing beef doesn’t seem to be Crack’s forte either as he drops the ball to “ether” down his newfound nemesis 50 Cent. “My Fo Fo” suffers from a weak hook and lack of substance.

Even most hardcore Fat Joe fans will find All Or Nothing a tad difficult to grasp. The album lacks direction, as the album sounds more like a bunch of songs put together. Fat Joe will need to bring more to the table in order to sit with the big boys.

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