NEW YORK — For once, funnyman Kevin Hart isn't all smiles. In fact, he has a big ol' ice grill on his face, not to mention a Terror Squad medallion around his neck, and he wants to be sure that the world is paying heed to his homie Fat Joe.
"It's not just a task — it's a way of life! So lean back!" Hart yelled Saturday on the set of the Squad's latest video, "Lean Back." Hart (best known for his work on "The Big House" and the forthcoming "Soul Plane"), Lil Jon, Swizz Beatz, Nore and the whole Terror Squad crew were on hand for the song's clip, which took place in a brownstone on the Upper East Side.
Of course, Hart's exclamation was done in jest, as was his critique of Joe's dancing earlier in the day. "First of all, Joe may be one of the top two worst dancers I've ever seen in my life," said a poker-faced Hart, who plays a security guard in the video. "I think the fellow members of Terror Squad should tell him that dancing is not his forte. I think they should sit him at a table and let him eat. When you got Joe attempting to lean back, someone could get hurt. Say Joe attempts to lean back and slips and falls and, say, I'm under there. It'll be a while before somebody can get me, because I'm not the biggest cat."
Inside the brownstone, the biggest cat in the Terror Squad was looking more like Joe Cool than Joey Crack as he moved for the cameras in his pink and white outfit. "My n---as don't dance, they just pull up their pants and do the Rockaway and lean back, lean back," Joe rapped as he slowly threw back his right shoulder in time with the beat.
"It's dumb simple," Joe would later say to the model with the see-through shirt he was dancing with — she couldn't get the move down. "Just throw your right shoulder. I can't dance, but this is simple."
Jessy Terrero, who co-directed the clip with Raul Conde (and who also directed "Soul Plane"), said the moves are bound to be picked up by the public once the video hits. "Fat Joe is doing the 'Lean Back,' " he said. "It's about to catch on, like the 'Chicken Head' [from] the Chingy video [for 'Right Thurr']. This is for the gangsters — you just pull up your pants and lean back. [For the video's story line], we took it back to the Biggie Smalls days with 'One More Chance' and a party in a brownstone: Fat Joe owns the illest brownstone in New York and everybody's trying to get in."
To record the Terror Squad album, Joe and company got out — of New York, anyway. For True Story they went to Miami and laid down tracks in the home of Squad extended-family member DJ Khalid in a studio dubbed Jerusalem.
"It was just time, man," Joe, now surrounded by most of his group, said during a set change. "The family's been holding me down forever. Armageddon came up with the idea. He was like, 'Let's do a Terror Squad album.' I was like, 'Yo, you ready for that?' "
His team — singer Tony Sunshine and MCs Armageddon, Prospect and the lone female, Remy Martin — was ready. It took just nine days to record True Story, which is slated for a summer release, although three songs are already on mixtapes and radio (see "First Rule Of Fight Klub: Do Talk About Remy Martin").
"Let it be told, Terror Squad is so creative and Joe's just been adding the pieces to the puzzle," said Dre from Cool and Dre, who do most of the Squad's production. "We got the baddest bitch. We got Tony Sunshine — no other rap crew ever put out an R&B artist like how we're doing it. We said, 'We got too much talent, [so] let's parade all the talent.' "
Ironically, "Lean Back" wasn't even supposed to be on True Story. It was originally tapped for Fat Joe's solo LP, due in November.
"Scott Storch came up with a crazy ill beat," Joe recalled. "I was gonna do it for the Fat Joe album — I had three verses on there, killing it. Remy heard it, and that was a wrap. She was like, 'I'm rhyming on there. Matter of fact, this sounds like a Terror Squad song.' I was like, 'Daaaamn.' "
"Lean Back" is expected to hit the video channels soon. (The Squad members have changed their minds about doing a split clip for "Lean Back" and "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah," according to their rep.) True Story is due July 20, with Tony Sunshine's debut following in August.