After the success of "All The Way Up", the duo faced the daunting task of creating a project worthy of its singles.
Album - Plata O Plomo
Artistes - Fat Joe, Remy Ma
Record Label - Rap's New Generation; EMPIRE
Producers - Eric Kovacs, Cool & Dre, Edsclusive, iLLA, Street Runner, Tarik Azzouz, 808-Ray, Vindata, iLL Wayno Shippy, Gaetano.
Duration - 46 minutes
For a rapper in the twilight of his career, Fat Joe continues to fight for the success that younger rappers dream of. It is more a function of his history in rap than anything else; over the years, he has stayed relevant in a career that has seen him work with everyone from Big Punisher to newbies like Kent Jones.
On the other hand, Remy Ma, since she got back from prison, has felt like a dinosaur in a room full of cyborgs. She is a far cry from the femcee that delivered bars with weight and menace, her recent projects have laboured past the finish line.
Together, the two created the biggest hit of their respective careers - 2004’s "Lean Back" with Terror Squad. After a spat, they re-united in 2014 to replicate that success and they pulled it off with the smash hit, "All the Way Up".
There is an understated synergy between the two that led to some anticipation for this project, but whatever magic comes out of it only showed up in flashes.
The opening track “Warning” feels like it is stuck in time; the production is heavy and thumping, with a sparse hook courtesy of Kat Dahlia, yet Fat Joe and Remy Ma struggle to merge a dated flow with the music.
The two are a throwback to an era that is slowly fading away, and Remy Ma’s inflexibility makes it all the more evident. Fat Joe has a greater knack for adjusting his sound to what works at any time, and that versatility often makes for a good back-and-forth with Remy Ma, but here, it fails to hit the target.
After its lead cut, “All the Way Up”, the album finally kicks off. The production is the same, but here, lush strings and synths find their way in to host the RnB talents that guide the album down the right path.
"HeartBreak" featuring The Dream, with its lush riddim, is a hopeful shot at mainstream success that manages to work against all odds; and thanks to a sample of New Edition’s “Do What I Do”, “Money Showers” featuring Ty Dolla Sign sounds like an ode to 80s and 90s RnB that Fat Joe and Remy Ma do justice to.
Kent Jones proves one of the surprise packages on the album. He appears memorably on three tracks, but his hook on "How Can I Forget" stands out in an album that does not suffer a shortage of good hooks.
Fat Joe and Remy Ma shift between attempts to create catchy mainstream singles and hard-hitting tracks for their core fans and the effect is that the album seems scattered at times. There are a few standout efforts, including the turn-up anthem “Cookin” and “Spaghetti”, but there are songs here that would feel out of place on a weak mixtape.
Dropping a full year after its first single meant that the project was most likely to be seen in the light of the songs that came before it; "All the Way Up", "Cookin" and "Money Showers".
It might feel like an unfair comparison, but it takes nothing away from the fact that "Plata o Plomo" is far from the masterpiece that Fat Joe and Remy Ma promised us.