Fat Joe’s latest effort enough to silence critics

By Eli Rosenswaike, Collegian staff

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Courtesy Terror Squad Records

An “elephant in the room” is a phrase describing “a problem or issue that is present but which everyone avoids or ignores.”

That problem, as some in the rap circles may believe, is that Fat Joe’s relevance as an artist is dead and that he should be consequently ignored. They think his skills have diminished and that he will never recover from being dropped by Atlantic Records.

With Fat Joe’s new album, “The Elephant in the Room,” the Puerto Rican rapper is out to show that the only elephant in the room is the people who doubted him.

With a solid individual performance on his new CD, Fat Joe hasn’t totally accomplished that, but he’s at least stopped the stampede of his critics.

The strength of the album is also its weakness – all 12 songs are solid, but none of them jump out at you. This provides a deep CD that can be popped in and listened to at anytime, but there are no instant-hits that you want playing at your party, a la “Lean Back,” “New York,” or “Make it Rain.”

For whatever reason, Fat Joe seems to be some type of running joke, a rapper that never gets the respect he deserves. Maybe it’s his name or his weight, things that could possibly keep people from taking him seriously.

One of the biggest issues with the album – believe it or not – is that there isn’t enough Fat Joe on it. Forget the fact that there are only 12 songs (and a total running time of fewer than 43 minutes) on the CD, but almost every song has some other artist featured on it. In some instances this is a good thing, but Fat Joe is the strength on this album and far too often someone else is ruining the track.

The album features good, interesting and up-tempo beats throughout, which can be largely attributed to a solid group of producers: Swizz Beatz, DJ Khaled, Scott Storch and Danja.

The opening track on the album, “The Fugitive,” serves as an introductory song to the CD, providing a glimpse into why Fat Joe named his eighth album what he did. “Major label drop me, what I do? I got richer,” he raps.

In terms of introducing the album and what it’s all about – it does a great job. Other than that, it’s one of the weaker songs on the CD, filled with way too much swearing.

The last song on the CD, “That White,” is another of the weaker songs on the album. But what’s in between those two songs is a good effort.

As I mentioned earlier, there are no instant hits on this album, but there are a few songs worthy of any iPod or sampling at a party. My two personal favorites are “I Won’t Tell,” featuring J. Holiday and “Cocababy,” featuring Jackie Rubio. With the latter, the hook by Rubio actually detracts from the quality of the song, but Fat Joe is great and it’s a catchy song that can be danced to. In “I Won’t Tell,” Joe and J. Holiday have great chemistry going back-and-forth in the song, which adds a good dimension to one of the slower songs on the album.

On the flip side, songs like “300 Brolic,” and “Preacher on a Sunday Morning,” are two of the collaborative songs that really disappoint and take away from Fat Joe’s performance on the album.

Fat Joe is at his finest on “K.A.R.,” which provides some impressive rapping and really shows off his lyrical talents. It’s a throwback-type song from him, something that reminds you of his better days as a member of Terror Squad. Again though, the hook of the song is a bit annoying and holds it back from being an elite track.

Fat Joe hasn’t completely shed the label of his apparent demise as a major rap figure with this effort, but he’s certainly made a statement.

Eli Rosenswaike can be reached at [email protected]