Fat Joe’s 2010 street album The Darkside Vol. 1 found the BX hip-hop vet returning to his roots—high octane coke rap. With his follow-up, The Darkside Vol. 2, Joey Crack decided to release the project via the mixtape circuit, his first project of the kind after nearly 20 years in the industry.

On the opening cut, “Welcome to the Darkside,” Joey sets the stage for another dark suite of stories detailing possession with intent to distribute as French Montana menacingly croons over the introduction’s grandiose production. "DopeMan,” samples the Beatles’s classic “Yesterday,” and the result’s a drug dealer’s anthem with the Don Cartegna declaring “Rollin' in Bugattis, I got that Ringo Starr, I’m slingin’ Paul McCartney.” Complete with a raspy feature from Jadakiss, it’s the kind of gritty New York hip-hop that Joey put on the shelf once he found success with the radio hits and club bangers that gave him his mainstream commercial success over the past decade.

On “Pushing Keys,” the newly slimmed down rhymer slows things down, waxing boss knowledge over pitch-manipulated soulful samples. It’s a solid piece, though, it ends up being a bit of a letdown—Raekwon is listed as a feature on the song, but doesn't spit a verse; instead, it’s The Chef talking shit to the haters for a minute and a half.

While The Darkside Vol. 2 isn’t breaking any new ground, the project serves as the second installment of an effective rebuttal to the charge that Joey had lost his edge. Between hard nosed beats and unflinching lyrics, Joe Crack the Don iss still a force to be reckoned with. Coca! —Neil Martinez-Belkin