Naming an album after a previously highly respected work (sometimes classic), can be a gift and a curse. Jay’s done it with his Blueprint series, Dr. Dre has The Chronics and Lil’ Wayne’s career has become synonymous for his Carter installments. Even Nas somewhat pulled off the feat with his 2001 release, Stillmatic. It’s a risky move, but if done correctly can have the artist resembling more genius than failure. Consider Fat Joe part of this list. In 1995, Joe released what many consider to be the pinnacle of his recording resume’ with J.O.E. (Jealousy One’s Envy). Six years later, he would release J.O.S.E. (Jealousy One’s Still Envy), his first platinum-seller, which boasted hit records “What’s Luv”, “We Thuggin’” and “My Lifestyle.” 2009 finds Don Cartagena attempting to recreate that same magic on Jealous Ones Still Envy 2 (J.O.S.E. 2).
Hitting hard out of the gate, “Joey Don’t Do It” proves to be the album’s standout equipped with a Jimi Hendrix sample and Joe’s most mafioso lines such as, “Just when you thought it was s-s-s-safe/ I ran up in the crib and cleared the muthafuckin’ safe/Got crates full of bass/Got pills, got ones/ And everybody knows that Joey’s got a gun.” Unfortunately, the best track is also the shortest as it clocks in at just under two minutes and 20 seconds.
J.O.S.E. 2 trudges along with failed attempts at commercial records with Akon and T-Pain, both of which seem extremely outdated. “Aloha”, his Pleasure P and Rico Love assisted single, fails to conjure memories his radio records of the past have. Lil’ Wayne has been a mainstay on several Fat Joe singles in the past and for good reason. He provides camouflage for Joe’s lyrical shortcomings on “Winding On Me” which also features the now defunct Ron Browz.
After disappointing records from Jim Jonsin (“Porn Star”) and Swizz Beatz (“Blackout,”) the album finalizes out with Crack addressing several personal topics. One of which being his ability to “share the wealth.” The reflective “Music” finds Joe vividly explaining “They say Joe too selfish, he won’t let us in the door/ I say shit, I coulda left Pun in front of that store/Coulda left Remy Ma ass in Castle Hill/Where every other day a nigga get killed/ They say what’s Cool without Dre?/I say shit, what if them niggas never met Jose?” Joe goes on to explain why he’s the reason DJ Khaled eventually became President of Def Jam South and why Scott Storch would matriculate into one of the game’s hottest producers. In all honestly, he’s right.
What Joe’s ninth solo album lacks in consistency, there are, however, decent tracks hidden beneath the layers mediocrity. The bouncy, feel good track “Congratulations” happens to be one of those, even despite lackluster guest verses. Raekwon also provides a respectable feature on the appropriately titled track, “Ice Cream”, which could have done without the verse from TA.
In the grand scheme of things, Fat Joe ranks as one New York’s more recognizable figures, for better or worse. With Jay-Z, Fabolous and Maino releasing quality records in 2009, their Bronx counterpart fails to deliver mainly due to a lack of cohesion and a forced sound which doesn’t compliment his rugged flow. With no disrespect to the Terror Squad frontman, not many are going to find themselves envying this release.