Jealous Ones Still Envy
is Fat Joe's attempt to turn the tables and rack up the sales needed to keep him in the platinum chains and gangsta style he raps about. Despite a decade of trying, he has never quite managed to make it out of hip-hop's second division. His previous three solo albums may have all gone gold, but that's little comfort at a time when rap's big hitters go triple platinum within a week of release.
As the spluttering "Fight Club" and "My Life Style" remind, the South Bronx heavy weight has always been more about passion and attitude than staggering ability. To compensate, he's loaded JOSE with A-list guests who seem to do all his work for him. R Kelly provides the killer hook for "We Thuggin'", Busta Rhymes adds spark to the remix, Buju Banton's ragga toasting sets off "King Of NY" and on standout track "What's Luv?", Joe's barely present, leaving Ja Rule and the angel voiced Ashanti to make it a guaranteed hit.
Perhaps not as creative or essential as his guests' output--or indeed his own 1995 album Jealous Ones Envy, from which JOSE takes its name--this unashamed stab at the commercial jugular could be the bridge to the mainstream he's been looking for.--Dan Gennoe
New album features Xzibit, Ludacris, Busta Rhymes, Buju Banton and more. On CD & double LP from Atlantic Records.