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Fat Joe - All Or Nothing


Review: Jack Foley

MAINSTREAM hip-hop conforms to a pretty rigid formula - plenty of attitude, loads of crunk-laden beats and guest appearances aplenty.

Fat Joe's latest album, All Or Nothing, ticks all the boxes for what constitutes a mainstream hip-hop album.

It features collaborations with everyone from Eminem, R Kelly, Nelly and J-Lo, as well as production values courtesy of Cool and Dre.

And, of course, it comes complete with the obligatory parental warning sticker, indicating that this is a profanity-laden effort that is packed with references to pimps, whores, niggers and drug addicts.

In truth, the whole mainstream hip-hop scene is a pretty joyless affair, lacking the sheer feel-good value of some earlier examples of the hip-hop movement. It's a million miles away from the effortless cool of old skool De La Soul or the more recent DM & Jemini.

Yet it sells albums by the bucketload so will probably remain the norm for the time being.

Fat Joe's All Or Nothing isn't necessarily a bad album when viewed within the modern context - but it's hopelessly over-familiar and struggles to deliver a track that is worth getting excited about.

Born and bred in the Bronx, New York, Fat Joe comes from the school of hard knocks and his music tends to reflect the urban environment he emerged from.

Hence, it's hard-hitting and pretty graphic at the best of times, yet always careful to toss in the odd tune capable of generating the radio play needed to ensure chart success.

Hence, lead single, Get It Poppin', featured Nelly, yet ended up sounding more like a song from the guest vocalist rather than anything Joe could call his own.

While tracks like So Much More and My Fofo ('I love hip-hop, I love this mother-fuckin' hip-hop game') emerge as painfully generic blasts of hip-hop that could make their way on to any current album.

Of the notable stuff, Does Anybody Know emerges as a strong anthem for Joe, despite falling back on another modern gimmick - the strained female vocal sample.

And Mashonda's sultry vocal style lends some much-needed soul to Listen Baby - even though the song actually sounds like two separate tracks merged together.

The funky I Can Do U contains a rarely encountered upbeat vibe that should translate well to the dance-floor.

While both R Kelly and Eminem stamp their style on So Hot (a sexy slow-burner) and Lean Back (a crunk heavyweight) to help draw the album to a strong close.

J-Lo, however, re-emphasises her roots with yet more references to 'the hood' on final track, Hold You Down, a supposedly heart-felt ballad that pretty much exposes the main problem with the album.

It's too geared towards success and forgets to maintain an identity of its own.

 

Track listing:
1. Intro
2. Does Anybody Know
3. Safe 2 Say (The Incredible)
4. So Much More
5. My Fofo
6. Rock Ya Body
7. Listen Baby
8. Get It Poppin' (feat. Nelly)
9. Temptation, Pt. 1
10. Temptation, Pt. 2
11. Everybody Get Up
12. I Can Do U
13. So Hot (Feat R Kelly)
14. Lean Back [Remix] - Eminem
15. Beat Novacane
16. Hold You Down (feat Jennifer Lopez)

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