Artist: Terror SquadTitle: True StoryRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Martin A. Berrios
History will tell you that keeping a Rap crew together is a tough undertaking, and no one understands this better than Fat Joe. With the release of their first project Terror Squad: The Album five years ago, the click had a formidable line up and the momentum to take them to the next level. Following the unfortunate passing of the late great Big Pun, Terror Squad began to disband. Cuban Link bounced and Triple Seis soon followed, leaving Joe to regroup. The squad is now Fat Joe, Remy Ma, Armageddon, Prospect and singer Tony Sunshine. The Bronx collective is back; focused and re-polished.
True Story instantly gives you flashbacks of Rap during the early 90’s with its concise album structure. Featuring only twelve tracks and no skits, the margin of error is slimmed down. Lyrically the crew steps up their game to make up for the loss of their departed members. Joe sets the tone on the introductory “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Me.” Crack flows smoothly over the dark DJ Khaled production with ease. The intensity is quickly cranked up on “Yeah Yeah Yeah.” Joe and the newly crowned Queen of New York Remy Ma trade fiery verses on a horn flavored Scram Jones banger. Their chemistry reaches an apex on “Lean Back”, undeniably the summer anthem of 2004.
True Hip-Hop heads will also appreciate the resurrection of BIG L and Big Pun’s voices on the appropriately named “Bring Em’ Back”. The two legends sound like they never left on the bass filled Lord Finesse track. Additional highlights include the crew’s LL Cool J influenced “Take Me Home” (Peep the “Going Back To Cali” delivery) and Fat Joe’s Jay-Z slight on “Yes Them To Def.” (I hear a couple of you rappers wanna retire/such liars.)
In regards to the production, the album’s sound can be generic at times due to the lack of originality. The heavy usage of the sped up soul samples found on five tracks, could disappoint some that have grown weary of the fad. Furthermore, Cool & Dre’s production on “Let Them Things Go” is a blatant attempt at a Neptunes hit. The Pharrel influenced hook provided by Dre’ makes the biting even more flagrant.
Other featured producers included are DITC associate Buckwild (“Pass Away”) and newcomer LV (“Thunder In The Air”).
With any crew album, some members will always get more shine on the microphone than others. Fat Joe and Remy Ma efficiently carry most of the weight, while the very underrated Prospect, the gruff voiced Armageddon and crooner Tony Sunshine are only featured on two or three songs respectively.
Even though the group chemistry is not as tight as it should be, True Story still bangs. The borough that mothered this Rap ish hasn’t been repped correctly as of late so Bronx, stand up.