Fat Joe – The Darkside Vol. 1 | Album Review

As one of a handful of leading emcees who emerged in the ’90s it seems Fat Joe’s legacy is still in the process of being formed. Although his works as a solo emcee and as part of the Terror Squad are held in high regards, it is his recent spat with 50 Cent and G-Unit which most people associate the BX assassin with. Whilst beefs often overshadow qualitative material, here’s hoping that Joe’s Darkside release puts to bed all notions of tit-for-tat squabbles with his arch nemesis.

The Darkside ventures into familiar territory for Fat Joe – hard hitting, abrasive rap packages from one of the few representing for New York. A soulful cut is provided by long time collaborators Cool and Dre on “Valley of The Dead” as haunting wails soften the hardcore delivery from Joey Crack.

Although straight shooting, foul mouthed tirades make up the majority of lyricism on the mixtape, Fat Joe dons a metaphoric style on the Just Blaze credited “I Am Crack” which the likes of Nas and Pharaoh Monch would be proud of.

Transforming into various varieties of the deadly drug, Fat Joe raps on the harrowing effects which crack has had in the US and its news reporting samples and crashing production only make his rhymes hit harder. But Joe goes from highlighting its effects to somewhat praising the financial gains from selling it on the track “Kilo” which many will find contradicting. Nevertheless, Fat Joe continues with his Godzilla like vocals, terrorising on tracks such as “Rappers Are In Danger” and “At Last Supremacy”.

Production credits remain tight knit, with Cool and Dre, Scoop Deville and Raw Uncut handling most of the precedings. But DJ Premier – the man who mastered the sound of New York in the ’90s – still remains supreme with his vintage sound providing the score on “I’m Gone”.

An album which very well tilts towards the darker side of rap as its unapologetic subject matter will be a turn off for those looking for Hip Hop minus its aggressive side. However Joe has been bringing the hardcore for some years now and this effort provides enough of it for some satisfaction.

Whilst features from Jeezy, Trey Songz and Lil’ Wayne add some much needed variety, Joey Crack’s offence remains dominant, resulting in another hood epic being added to his catalog – which has remained consistent for over a decade.

The Dark Side Volume One is out now via Terror Squad/E1 Music.

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