Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Admirable Workmanship of Fat Joe

When you ask people to talk about the greatest rappers of all time certain names are often thrown-out. We will doubtlessly hear, "Tupac," and when it comes to newer rappers, "Kendrick Lamar," gets name-dropped too. There is a subset of people who will argue without end, "Andre 3000," and I'm one of them (Big Boi is of course superb as well). One person who seems to often be forgotten in talks about great rappers is someone who has been around for decades and has an admirable work-ethic as proven by his illustrious discography. I'm talking about Fat Joe.

From the early 1990's on the protege of Big Pun has been an interesting presence. In the 90's and earlier 2000's he was around a lot, releasing a number of singles and getting into a high-profile rap-beef with then-newer rapper 50 Cent (they later resolved it). His 2001 album, "Jealous Ones Still Envy," was pure fire with hot track after hot track, but I'm one of maybe 10-ish people who bought, "Loyalty." Once 2010 hit however Joe kind of faded from the spotlight a bit, but not completely, instead doing something else.
Fat Joe does something I like to call, "Groundhogging." I think I've created this term, and it basically means everyone forgets about you for awhile, but suddenly every once in awhile a ton of attention comes your way because you do something important, and then you return to your burrow for a good amount of time to work on something else before emerging again to draw all the eyes. Since 2010 Joe seems to have been doing this, disappearing for awhile only to suddenly turn-up and fill the airwaves with stuff like, "All the Way Up," or a song currently dominating the radio, "Money Showers." He hasn't had his own solo album since the aforementioned year of 2010 but finally released a new LP titled, "Plata O Plomo," done in collaboration with fellow wordsmith Remy Ma.  Also, despite being known as, "Fat Joe," he has lost a lot of weight since at one point being 350 pounds, and as someone who has struggled with their own weight I admire his dedication to that too, because damn is it hard not eating all the delicious-but-bad-for-you foods.

Fat Joe may be overlooked by many when discussing the best rappers, but I feel that is a bit unfair. The man may not always be out there demanding attention, but that is because he is engaging in groundhogging--coming out when he has something to show us, but otherwise hiding away to create his sonic delights. Joe doesn't need your constant compliments because with his workmanship he knows that when he emerges from seclusion you'll doubtlessly want to admire his work. I know I do.

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