Fat Joe and Remy Ma
Plata O Plomo (released February 17, 2017)
Better late than never, huh?
Eleven months ago, Fat Joe and Remy Ma ended their decade-long cold war to drop “All the Way Up,” a ’90s throwback record that would earn the pair a platinum plaque and become one of the hottest songs of the summer. Even my wife, who quit rap when Kanye started selling y’all $1,000 nursing-home shoes, had the track on repeat through most of the year.
But it took nearly a full calendar year to reach Plata O Plomo, Joey and Remy’s first joint album, and while the buzz from “All the Way Up” has died down, their fire has not.
Fat Joe has long been one of the most consistent players in hip-hop, wisely adjusting his sound and delivery to stay relevant with the times. Remy, though, is just a bull in a china shop, spitting with reckless abandon. Their odd-couple approach always has served them well, going all the way back to 2004’s monstrous “Lean Back” collaboration. Plata O Plomo can’t quite recapture that “Lean Back” magic – “All the Way Up” comes closest, of course – but it’s not for a lack of effort.
“Baby when you say my name, put some respek on it/Yeah, you had a nice run but now the question is , y’all finished or y’all done?” Remy steps on the scene with guns blazing on “Swear to God,” a track that symbolizes the good and bad of the first half of Plata O Plomo – nice production and aggressive punchlines crippled by weak hooks. Kent Jones, who shows up on three 0f the album’s 12 tracks, hinders way more than he helps and simply disrupts Joey and Remy’s chemistry.
Thankfully, things pick up on the second half of the album. “Go Crazy” and “Money Showers” feel like they were plucked from the 2004 True Story Terror Squad album in all the best ways. Both feature guest vocalists crooning over enduring R&B samples (Sevyn Streeter/BJ the Chicago Kid on Floetry’s “Say Yes” on the former, Ty Dolla Sign on New Edition’s “Do What I Gotta Do” on the latter) with Joey Crack and Remy easily coasting over the harmonies. The hypnotic guitar licks of “Too Quick” are just as alluring, making a song about cash n’ climaxing much more sensual than the grimy lyrics depict.
The pair even share the stage with the great Stephanie Mills on “Dreamin’,” where Remy acutely reflects on life after her six-year prison bid:
I went from Castle to Beverly to Bedford Hills
I’m a prime example of keeping it too real
Had somebody asked me if I learned my lesson
Told him, “Actually prison made me more aggressive
I still smack a chick quick, no questions
But now I leave my handprint so she don’t get the wrong impression”
Plata O Plomo is far from the classic Fat Joe had promised – the album often struggles to find itself, bouncing from mainstream-friendly riddim trends (“Heartbreak”) to grittier ’00s-era tracks (“Cookin”). Inconsistencies aside, what works here REALLY works, proving that no matter how many months and years pass, Remy and Joey have an undeniable chemistry.
Best tracks: “All the Way Up,” “Money Showers,” “Go Crazy”
3.5 stars out of 5