If two aging, former sworn rap enemies decide to make a record together in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
Okay, maybe that’s a bit extreme. But collaboration between bitter longtime rivals Fat Joe and 50 Cent would have surely captured the public’s attention years ago, when both MC’s were at their relative cultural and commercial peaks. To today’s rhyme follower who celebrates kindler, gentler, emo deity Drake, Joey Crack—the two-fisted Bronx, New York general who led the way for the ‘90s Latino hip-hop revolution—and Fiddy—the former Queens crack dealer turned best-selling, beef-igniting, king-of-the-rap-world mogul—might as well be endangered species.
And yet the two rappers, who made peace in honor of their mutual bond with widely respected music powerbroker Chris Lighty following his tragic 2012 death, are featured together on veteran New York DJ Kay Slay’s latest Drama King production “Free Again.” The outcome? An unabashed win that proves hunger is not always wasted on the youth. A straight-ahead flip of Raekwon’s classic “Incarcerated Scarfaces” tells you everything you need to know even before a verse is laid: This is some blunt-smoking, Timb-wearing, Tunnel-fighting New York shit.
An inspired Joe offers insight into his brief recent jail bid (“Four months on the toilet, shit I can do that!”) and 50 is well, 50. The latter rap bully is in fine, controversial form here (“It’s an anthem when I rant, fuck you think I am Kanye?/I had them wearing vests now these niggas wear dresses…”) as such a relentless attack will spark debate on whether or not Curtis Jackson will once again reach the mammoth populist heights of Get Rich or Die Tryin’. Indeed, it’s tough rooting for a comeback from rap’s quintessential bad guy. But if 50 continues to stomp over tracks like some bulletproof-wearing Big Foot, we will find ourselves giving it up to the sneering man in black. –Keith Murphy (@murphdogg29)