Written by Silas Valentino
Although they’ve been appearing with each other on tracks for years, Fat Joe and Remy Ma solidify their hip-hop friendship with their collaborative LP Plata O Plomo. The album’s title is Spanish for “silver or lead” which was infamously uttered by Columbian drug lord Pablo Escobar as his offer to police: money or death.
For this 12-song, 47-minute album such an intense ultimatum does not exist; rather, it’s the flashiness of silver mixed with the roughness of lead that can be used to describe these two who continue to wear their scars from the streets as they peddle rhymes over glossy beats.
“Warning” kicks things off with a sample that’s been manipulated into a fluttering sound that sets up an eerie scene for Fat Joe to dispel. “So much coke you young boys won’t believe it/Hopping off J E T S I’m Revis,” he spits in his album introduction, boasting about narcotic consumption while giving a shout-out to former New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis. (Later down the bars, he gives a nod to New York Knick Kristaps Porzingis and proves that Fat Joe supports his hometown teams even when they’re playing like duds.)
New York City is well represented by Fat Joe during his verse but teeth marks come out when Remy Ma grabs the mic to let her advisories (Nicki Minaj?) know that: “How dare you allow people to compare you/Better be careful cause I don’t care you/Tried to be my friend but I didn’t care to.” Minaj and Ma have feuded and bickered throughout the past–“Warning” sets Remy Ma up to reclaim her independence and enter back into the game following her 2014 release from prison.
Up next is the East Coast rap banger “Swear to God” that sports and horn-heavy hook that thrashes with an abrasive beat. It’s the first track on the album to feature Kent Jones. The Tallahassee young gun makes multiple appearances throughout Plata O Plomo and begins by rapping over a megaphone-like filter that recalls the howling of 2010-era Kanye West. (The whole track in general sounds like a reference to Ye’s “Cold”–which was produced by DJ Khlaed, a longtime collaborator of Fat Joe’s.) Remy Ma steals the track with her verse that starts: “Now if I liked your man’s face, I would have sat on it” before elaborating on why she deserves to the “queen of New York” moniker.
The torch has been passed to a new generation of Bronx MCs in the unexpected hit single “All the Way Up,” which has Fat Joe reclaiming some credit amid the digital age and then hands the mic over to fellow neighborhood man French Montana. Over a silky horn whimper with a bass drop to attract a club audience, “All the Way Up” is a classic brag standard with Fat Joe and Remy Ma boasting about how big their abodes are now that they’re established hip-hop veterans. “Just left the big house to a bigger house” Remy Ma says, referencing her 6-year stint in prison for assault charges. It may as well be 2001 because Fat Joe is back on top.
Fat Joe was asked last month on the a “Ask Me Anything” web board on Reddit if he was surprised of the success behind “All the Way Up.” His response was humble and steady:
“Well I did expect, I knew it was a hit record but it was up to the fans to embrace it and the DJs to play it because you know at the end of the day every artist is at the mercy of the fans, so sometimes I’ve had other records I thought were smash hits but never blew up. So you run the risk of the fans not embracing it and getting it like you do.”
Alongside his hometown colleague Remy Ma, Fat Joe presents his fans with Plata O Plomo and serves up a straightforward album full of big boasts over beats.
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