Its hard to believe that Fat Joe is on album number eight. Best known for hot hits in the summer season (Lean Back and Make it Rain), why his albums never seem to be a total cohesive effort is a mystery. The Elephant In The Room (Terror Squad) doesnt stray from such a label, but still manages to show off Joes clever mixture of street anthems and radio shiny tunes.
Among the latter is the Street Runner produced Fugitive, where Crack utilizes a flow that is eerily familiar to Rick Ross' territory. Either way, Joe moves from one story about sexual encounters and drug liaisons to the next, with ease. As simple and overdone as this territory seems, Fugitive goes down smooth enough before jumping into one of two tracks produced by Cool & Dre. You Aint Sayin Nothin which features both Dre and Plies holds a braggadocios hook and is boastfully comfortable until Plies abruptly rips the flow in half. Mixing that Bronx swagger with Plies southern diction proves to be a challenge.
Crackhouse featuring Lil Waynes adds what is becoming his signature version of Hip-Hop whimsy a limbo between singing and a Rap style that sounds too good to be written off as lazy. Upon a closer listen, the lyrics sound like a cry for help on Waynes part (This is the crackhouse, welcome to the crackhouse / Man Im talking more pies than a frat house). Whether the paranoia in Waynes voice is just good acting on his part remains to be seen. As Joes bars weave in and out of Waynes persistent hook, a pattern of ear grabbing featured artists who take away from Joes own performance takes form.
Each producer has a clear style and voice that begs to differ whether Joe is featured on their tracks or if its the other way around. DJ Khaled screams his signature self-esteem building affirmation (We The best) on Get it for Life, while Swizz Beatz brings his traditional hype-man energy on Drop, as Joe takes on one Rap persona at a time.
Yet there are definite high points which include the lady friendly single I Wont Tell featuring J.Holiday. Then the peak point which comes courtesy of My Conscience." Holding a standout beat delivered at the hands of Alchemist, plus a feature from KRS-One, this joint is a Hip-Hop heads wet dream.
Even though Joe isnt the first rapper that comes to mind when you think of standing alone on a song, dont count him out completely. The Elephant In The Room is split down the middle between tracks made with a club and DJ in mind, but also a few personal attempts at artistry. The album shows little growth on Joes part but rather a heavy budget for A-list producers. Yet sticking to the script is what hes known for so while the surprises on this album are few an far between; its nice to know that some things dont change.
Fat Joe Featuring J. Holiday
"I Won't Tell"
Fat Joe Featuring KRS-ONE