With each CD that Fat Joe releases, he creeps closer and closer to the mainstream and sells more records. It has to be a satisfying feeling when each of your albums sells more than the previous one. Joe has managed to link quality with quantity, somewhat. Culminating with his 1.4 million selling LP Jealous Ones Still Envy.
Joe got a taste of MTV airplay last year, and his first order of business here is to get a little more. The lead single “Crush Tonight” could just as easily been called “We Thuggin” Part 2. The same mid-tempo, yet obviously radio-friendly style beat is used, and this time Ginuwine provides the hook instead of R. Kelly. Unfortunately for Joe, this one hasn’t caught on like its predecessor. While Joe puts his lyrics on cruise control again, Ginuwine’s vocals seem less-inspired than Kelly’s.
D.I.T.C. brethren Buckwild brings the heat on the album’s opener “Take a Look at My Life”, which has real nice horns and a nice sense of dramatic musical ambiance. “All I Need” and “Life Goes On” are personal tracks that Joe obviously has written for his love. They are very sincere and poetic. The former is more of his declaration of love, while the latter is a story of how he met his woman. It’s a slight departure from Joe‘s tough persona – but strong nonetheless. “Turn Me On” produced by Irv Gotti is just awful. Joe and guest vocalist Ronda Blackwell borrow the cadence from Pac‘s “Toss It Up” for the bridge and hook.
When Joe speaks on the streets, he seems more comfortable. On “Born in the Ghetto,” Lamajic sings a hook inspired by Sam Cooke‘s “A Change Is Gone Come”. Real nice because it works based on the obvious truth being emitted from Fat Joe‘s lips. On the track “Shit Is Real Pt. III”, Joe speaks on Big Pun and fake thugs; his emotion surfaces again and gives way to the best 2 verses on the album.
Fat Joe‘s Loyalty isn’t anything more than average in the end. The hodge-podge of grimy, ghetto inspired tracks and commercially acceptable songs leave this album in staccato. Overall, as a product it’s easy to recommend to the radio hungry Hip Hop fan, it’s just that Fat Joe is not going to be remembered for the time he put into this release. Nothing personifies this album and its release more than: “strike when the iron is still hot…”