Hip-Hop loves an underdog story, it’s a love affair that the genre has seemed to maintain on and off again since the genre’s inception. Whether it’s battling, on-going rap beefs, bad record deals or any other internal industry drama going on, the genre loves nothing more than a good old fashion underdog tale in which to regale fans and haters alike. Needless to say, in recent years both Fat Joe and Remy Ma have found themselves to be the underdog on more than several occasions during their long and bumpy careers. Fat Joe was served with a four-month jail sentence for tax evasion back in 2013, and that seems like a slap on the wrist in comparison to Remy Ma’s six-year prison bid that ended back in 2014 stemming from charges for assault and illegal weapon possession back in 2008. All of this aside, and at their wits end it’s an understatement to say that for a time it looks as if both were effectively down and out for the count both creatively, musically, legally and financially.
However, the duo seemingly appeared to catch lightning in a bottle with Cool & Dre produced hit “All The Way Up” featuring the likes French Montana and Inafared back in the spring of 2016. The single not only re-united the estranged former Terror Squad members but managed to go platinum, earring its platinum certification in August of 2016 and even garnered the duo’s first Grammy nominations since ‘Lean Back’ for Best Rap Performance and best Rap Song at the 59th Grammy Awards, only narrowly losing to Chance The Rapper. However, now more than a year since the initial buzz of “All The Way Up”, the duo has finally released their full-length collaborative studio LP Plata O Plomo through RNG and Empire Distribution. Plata O Plomo is Joe’s first studio project since The Darkside Vol. 1 back in 2010, and the most recent for Remy Ma who hasn’t dropped a studio project in over a decade since There’s Something About Remy: Based on a True Story back in 2006, a result of her subsequent prison term.
From all accounts, it had appeared that the proverbial stars had aligned and that all the right cards had fallen into place paving the way for a triumphant successful return to the Hip-Hop scene and music industry for both Fat Joe and Remy Ma after such long absences from both artists. After a platinum certified single, a well-covered buzz surrounding their personal lives and top of that a storybook comeback story ripe for telling both artists had what seemed like a perfect opportunity for a knockout album. However, what easily could have been (and rightfully should have) served as a triumphant comeback album and a return to form for the two Bronx emcees quickly devolves into a tired, rushed, run-of-the-mill, phoned in rap album. Simply put the duo’s full-length collaborative effort is nowhere near as hard hitting nor as captivating as their breakthrough single.
Plata O Plomo, unfortunately, fails to deliver on several major categories. The album simply lacks another mainstream hit even remotely close to the magnitude of “All the Way Up” leaving casual and fair weather fans with only the duo’s one chart topping anthem and on the other hand the album does little in the way of appealing to long time fans who’ve rode with both artists all of these years through both the good and bad times, lacking a certain amount of NY grit that that one would expect from the former Terror Squad members. The album falls into the trap of many long established New York emcees attempting and ultimately trying too hard to capture and emulate cliches of modern contemporary Hip-Hop artists and trends. The album falls victim to this trend which unfortunately befalls far too many talented New York artists, which quite frankly is a downright shame. Both Fat Joe and Remy Ma have proven themselves to be formidable emcees that can hold their own weight on the mic. However, what the album ultimately delivers is less of a collaborative Fat Joe and Remy Ma record and comes off more like an oversaturated, cluttered mixtape release at times. The whole album is chalked full of unnecessary guest features, every track with the exception of ‘How Long’ features guest appearances by various artists. French Montana, Ty Dolla $ign and The Dream are just a handful of the myriad of guest performers who take up a significant portion of the album’s run time and ultimately take away time from the album’s main acts. Not every feature on Plata O Plomo is a complete miss, however, ‘Go Crazy’ featuring Sevyn and BJ the Chicago Kid is one of the album’s highlights featuring one of R&B’s premier rising stars. Even singer Stephanie Mills makes a surprising appearance on the album’s final closing track ‘Dreamin’. Fitting enough the track is perhaps the most noteworthy on the entire album easily featuring the best sun performance on the entire album and the best cut on the album produced by Cool & Dre. If Plata O Plomo has one stand out feature it’s that the album does feature a rap sheet of accomplished producers. Edsclusive, iLLA, iLL Wayno Shippy, Gaetano, Street Runner, Tarik Azzouz, Vindata as well as Cool & Dre all contribute their production talents throughout the album’s twelve tracks. Cool & Dre handle a majority of the album’s either producing or co-producing seven cuts on the album including ‘All The Way Up. However, with so much filler content and unnecessary features, the album’s production just feels wasted on a rushed project.
That is perhaps the best way to describe Plata O Plomo, rushed. What could have easily been a great concept album detailing two accomplished emcees fall from grace and eventual ascent back to the top is instead stilted in favor of a album clear rushed out to capitalize of “All The Way Up’s” initial buzz and desperately trying to re-create lightning in a bottle and catering to the lowest common denominator utilizing every cliched current trend in the game right now. While the album is head and shoulders above any run of the mill offering from contemporary mumble rappers currently being churned out, the album is a dismal offering and severely below the standards of proven wordsmiths such as Fat Joe and Remy Ma. Remy easily delivers the best bars on the album, perhaps a result of bottled up creativity after a long six-year bid but this still isn’t enough to save the album from mediocrity. What should have easily been a home run out of the park is instead another forgettable, rushed out album that was made to capitalize on hype and buzz instead of to produce true comeback album. While Plata O Plomo is far from being the worst album of the year, it will likely be sorely remembered as a lost opportunity for a greater album that never materialized.
Plata O Plomo is available in stores now to purchase and to stream on Tidal, Spotify, Apple Music and iTunes.
Full Album Track Listing & Credits:
1. “Warning” (Feat. Kat Dahlia)
2. “Swear To God” (Feat. Kent Jones)
3. “Spaghetti” (Feat. Kent Jones)
4. “All the Way Up” (Feat. French Montana and Infrared)
5. “How Can I Forget” (Feat. Kent Jones)
6. “How Long”
7. “Go Crazy” (Feat. Sevyn Streeter and BJ The Chicago Kid)
8. “Heartbreak” (Feat. The-Dream and Vindata)
9. “Cookin” (Feat. French Montana and RySoValid)
10. “Money Showers” (Feat. Ty Dolla $ign)
11. “Too Quick” (Feat. Kingston)
12. “Dreamin” (Feat. Stephanie Mills)