Fat Joe has never
had a problem creating popular music. But since the Bronx Bomber scored a
platinum plaque for 2001’s Jealous Ones
Still Envy
, he’s watched a series of radio hits fail to convert his
hit-making talent into landmark sales. After pushing through a highly-publicized
beef with 50 Cent and a departure
from his long-time label, Atlantic
Records
, Don Cartagena is once
again aiming for platinum status with Me,
Myself & I
– his eighth solo album.

Though he’s now an independent spitter working with Imperial/EMI, Fat Joe still holds a major label pedigree. He enlists New Orleans fireman Lil’
Wayne
and
super-producer Scott Storch to
assist his latest potential chart-topper, “Make It Rain.” With Storch’s stammering digital horns and Joe’s exaggerated Southern swagger, the
Terror Squad leader is clearly
looking for some down-home love. “No Drama (Clap & Revolve)” takes
listeners down I-95 once again as Orlando’s
The Runners re-hustle their
signature opus of menacing organs and screwed hooks. Joe “switches to Southpaw” and changes his cadence, delivering
slurred, sinister vocals to match the song’s dark setting.

Catering to the industry’s dominant sound is a smart business move, but Joey Crack artistically peaks when he
sticks to doing what he does best: rap fiercely and energetically over intense
music. Staying true to his penchant for stout street raps and anthemic,
horn-heavy production, Joe gets
familiar on tracks like “Think About It” and the LV-produced “Damn.” Skillfully grabbing hold of the hyper horns and
buzzing bass of the latter, he raps, “It’s
survival out here/These niggas don’t even respect the Bible out here/It’s Pirus
out here, Cuz and Kinks too/Death’s the only thing that summer gon’ bring you
.”

Ironically, the lows of Me,
Myself & I
also come when Crack
plays a little too close to home. Despite showing growth through the gritty yet
emotive “Bendicion Mami,” he’s excessively predictable on “Jealousy.” After
bragging about his previous block exploits for so long, the heavy-set emcee actually
spreads himself thin by not staying sharp over the funk-inspired beat. The same
happens when Streetrunner provides a
hard-hitting set-up for “She’s My Mama.” The soulful music and vocal sample are
cheated by uninspiring tales about gaming hood chicks into a life of sex,
drugs, and crack rocks to roll.

Fat Joe doesn’t
hold his weight on a few of the album’s songs, but he delivers enough strength
to silence anyone who questions his place in Hip Hop. Some cynics claimed he
couldn’t bounce back from a tough year of controversy and criticism. But with Me, Myself & I packing a trim yet
still unadulterated serving of Cook Coke
Crack
, there’s little doubt that the Don
still reigns supreme.

Check out DX‘s interview with Fat Joe here