Fat Joe has consistently dropped albums since his 1993 debut, Represent, but on his ninth solo look, Cook Coke Crack revisits his most successful effort: 2001’s near-platinum Jealous Ones Still Envy (J.O.S.E.). Back then, it was R. Kelly (“We Thuggin’”) and Ashanti (“What’s Luv?”) who assisted the Fat Gangsta on his mission, but now it’s Ron Browz and T-Pain. Time sure flies, and on his latest, Jealous Ones Still Envy 2 (J.O.S.E. 2), the rapper looks to recapture the magic.
The Bronx Bomber may call Miami home now, but he quickly proves it isn’t all sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters, with the sinister “Hey Joe,” where he spits menacing lines like, “Play Superman, fuck around, get your S lit,” over producer Infamous’s rollicking drums. The Don Cartagena maintains his N.Y. state of mind on the Inkredibles-helmed “Okay Okay” and “Ice Cream,” featuring Raekwon. Still, Joe’s M-I-Yayo influence is eventually felt, on the breezy “Congratulations” and the Fabolous collaboration “Here We Go.” Sonically, the latter plays out like a ride down Ocean Drive, with its soulful loop and R&B hook, but the album’s true gem is the boastful “Music.” Here Joe reflects on his underappreciated hip-hop contributions, arguing, “They say, ‘Crack is too selfish, he wouldn’t let us in the door’/I say, ‘What if I would’ve left Pun in front of that store,’” before name-dropping other protégés, like Remy Ma and DJ Khaled.
J.O.S.E. 2 does hit some snags. The repetitive thump of “Winding on Me,” featuring Ron Browz, is a definite low point, and the Jim Jonsin–produced “Porn Star” sounds more like Weezy’s “Lollipop,” with its eerily familiar guitar riffs. And although the chopped-and-screwed hook of “Me and My Bitch” is catchy, it loses points for predictability. Sequels rarely live up to the original, and J.O.S.E. 2 is no exception. But, in the end, with his string of hits, Fat Joe still remains one to envy. —SEAN A. MALCOLM