Fat Joe, 'The Darkside Vol. 1' (Terror Squad/E1)

7
The Darkside Vol. 1
Critical Mass
Label: Terror Squad/E1

by Ben Detrick

Fat Joe's dark side-an abyss of Colombian kilograms and Mac-11s-is actually his comfort zone. "In the '80s I made so many premature babies, put niggas in Mercedes," he spits gleefully on "I Am Crack" over Just Blaze's blistering blaxploitation beat. The Bronx native's tenth LP is consumed by legacy: his lengthy career, his harrowing life, and his craft. Backed by rhythmic-but-pensive pianos from Premier on the album's closer, Joe laments the loss of another veteran: "Gangster? Fuck that, I'm Gang Starr," he says. "Tell Nas hip-hop is dead now, my man's gone."

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