Sunday, July 19, 2009

Fat Joe - S--t is Real

There was a very small window in the 1990s where Fat Joe was kind of awesome. This song is probably the apex of that window, and clearly his best song.

The man who would later call himself "Joey Crack" (lame...) had a couple of guest spots on a couple of DITC albums (notably Diamond D and Showbiz & AG in 1992) but really didn't add much. I always put him on par with the likes of Tim Dog and U-God, lyrically... which is to say, stiff, uninspired, kinda dull.

This song, though, has the perfect combination of a very solid FJ flow, along with one of the baddest beats DJ Premier ever made.

The lyrics and video are surprisingly violent. The black and white conceit of the video (of which I am usually very much anti-), actually works here because it fits with the cinematic feel. They actually don't make videos anything like this anymore, especially in modern hip-hop. I feel that even if I didn't like hip hop, I would be compelled by this video.

Of course eventually he would come up with the "Lean Back," the wackest dance craze of the last half-century.

Now I'm sixteen and there's a brand new scene
I'm makin' mad loot, gettin' paid off the dope-fiends
Keepin shit in checkin order,
And my main man Tone was fuckin everybody else's daughter
See everybody knew in town that Joe and Tone had shit locked down
And a nigga wouldn't test me
It seems like every other day the fucking cops arrest me
But the shit would never stick
I make one phone call and be out right quick
Cause uncle Dan had my back
And now niggaz gettin' jealous cause they know I'm livin' fat
Talkin shit around the way and on the block
But never in my face cause they knew I packed a glock
And my crew is mad deep
A buncha crazy Puerto Ricans, so hey yo don't sleep
And all you bitch ass niggaz know the deal, check it out
The fucking shit is real


Todd said...

Oh my goodgeness!

The Jealous One's Envy album dropped the same day as Liquid Swords. I remember running home from the store and listening to them back to back. Both records open with long audio clips from 1970s genre flicks (Jealous One's Envy opens with a clip from Warriors, Liquid Swords with that creepy "Shogun's Decapitator" scene-setter), and punctuate cornerstone tracks with film samples. Golden Age New York hip hop was always striving for this cinematic quality, and at the time I considered both albums classic material. Thirteen years later, GZA's down and out kung-fu crime saga is rightfully regarded as one of the best concept albums of all time. The Fat Joe album enjoys no comparable acclaim. Songs I loved at the time (Respect Mine, Success, etc.) now sound pretty hackneyed and formulaic. Indeed, only one track on this record had any staying power, but man-o-man, that one song has more bang than most albums. Of course I'm talking about the DJ Premier Remix of Shit is Real.

One hot song per album has been enough to keep Fat Joe on heavy rotation for more than 15 years.
Strangely enough, I never saw the video until just now. Young Fat Joe mugging people looks a lot more disturbing than it sounds. Probably because portly adolescents are so ill-suited for robbery.

It turns out that Bill and I went to college with some guys that grew up in the same neighborhood in the Bronx as Fat Joe. They always made him out to be a total goofball.

Bill said...

Toddy, before I knew who Big Pun was you told me that he made Fat Joe looks skinny and I thought you were lying, but good God were you right.

You are right that the thought of his pudgy, bloated face grilling at you doesn't sound that bad but seeing it is actually kind of terrifying. I also like the way he showed different incarnations of himself throughout the years. Even though the vid breaks no new ground, it's really well done.

But come on with the album titles: Jealous One's Envy (J.O.E., get it?), then Jealous One's Still Envy, and now Jealous One's Still Envy 2??? It just isn't all that clever.