Don't Sleep: Necessary Notables
Mixtape: The Darkside, Vol. II
Headliner: Fat Joe
Key Cameo: "Pushing Keys," featuring Raekwon
Essential Info: In rap, it's important to be multifaceted, feeding fans radio hits while maintaining close ties to the streets. It's a balancing act that Fat Joe has mastered throughout his career, most recently with the release of his super-catchy single "Another Round" (with Chris Brown) and his murderous mixtape The Darkside, Vol. II.
"I'm a grown guy, I'm a grown man, so for me, I don't have no problem touching that sexy stuff — and I do everything," Joe told Mixtape Daily last week. "I might have the most controversial, the most hard-core mixtape out: Darkside II out right now online; [if] you want that real hip-hop, go get it."
When the Bronx, New York, rap titan first emerged on the scene in 1993 with his debut album, Represent, his official moniker was Fat Joe da Gangsta. By the time his sophomore record came out two years later, he'd simplified his name, going by Fat Joe. Still, he's always maintained a hard edge.
"Right now, it seems that gangsta rap is extinct, so I give you that [music] free. I give you The Darkside II, it's better than some people's albums," Joe boasted. "It's that hard, you might hear that and be like, 'Damn.' I give it all: I do songs for the ladies, I do big songs and I touch the streets at the same time, so I feed everybody."
"Another Round" should provide Joe with ample radio play and visibility as he promotes his upcoming 11th album, while Darkside II will keep Crack cemented in the streets. Starting out with the French Montana-assisted "Welcome to the Darkside," Cook Coke Crack sets off his verbal murder spree in grand fashion and doesn't let up. Jadakiss rides shotgun on "Dope Man," a gangsta's reworking of the Beatles' classic "Yesterday." There's no shortage of hard-core rap joints either. Even on the sweet-sounding "Angels Say," Joe spits about John Gotti and late-night gunfights over Mark Henry's soulful production.
Through it all, Fat Joe has managed to keep his integrity as an artist, and for him, that's the most important thing. "I don't really get no flack, no backlash, like, 'Damn, Joe, you doin' a joint for the girls?' I never really get that."
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