Fat Joe’s fifth offering, Loyalty, is a polished work, done by a veteran of the rap game.
Much like Big Pun’s second record Yeeah Baby, Loyalty is refreshingly hardcore, with a serious commitment to rap fans accompanying the mainstream pressures.
In Loyalty, Joe realizes what he’s seen and how much success he has finally been blessed with. So he sits back and laughs at it.
Last summer, you couldn’t turn on the freakin’ radio without hearing “What’s Luv?” the poppy rap sensation by the rotund rhymer.
He jokes about the airplay in the banger “It’s Nothing:” “If you love hip-hop / you mighta heard my shit once / or maybe twice / or maybe like 10,000 times / I’m sick of it myself / I’m loving the shine.”
Experience in the game is apparent in Joe’s verses.
He stays clever even when hollerin’ and his confidence is energetic.
Despite having several club joints strictly for the ladies, Loyalty does venture into socially conscious aspirations in the dramatic “Born in the Ghetto.”
Joe’s best quality is his booming voice, matching his huge figure, and he sounds best when his beats are booming loader.
This album, produced by Armageddon, Cool and Dre, and Buckwild among others gives Joe those subwoofin’ instrumentals.
This is apparent in tracks like “Prove Something,” “It’s Nothing” and the title track.
While the album is far from classic, Joe’s charisma makes it too solid to ignore.
– Robert Sumner
This Is Who I Am
You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, and that can be the problem with debut albums for some artists.
Sometimes it is either the first in a string of multi-platinum or a flop of epic proportions.
Heather Headley storms the gate with This Is Who I Am.
If this is, as the album’s title suggests, the essence of Heather Headley, the public can only hope for a prolific career from this talented performer.
Already a Tony award-winner, Headly now proves to be a viable R&B solo-artist.
Accompanying a powerful and alluring voice is unmistakable style and versatility that Headley uses to depict the positive and negative aspects of love, life and the opposite sex.
Songs such as “He is,” “Nature of a man” and the reggae-riffed “Fallin’ for you” all extol the virtues and vices of romance.
This album is not just a tribute to Cupid’s games, however; the funky “Like ya used to,” realistic “fulltime,” soul barring “I wish I wasn’t” and street-smart “Sista girl” serve to offer a full order of modern-day existence.
Headley’s vocals blend beautifully with amazing instrumentals as she recalls such disparate vocalists as CeCe Peniston, Toni Braxton, Deborah Cox and Mary J. Blige.
With This Is Who I Am, Headley almost ascends to the ranks of diva. That is exactly who she is.
– Matthew Ray
Known as “Didg” for his obsession with the acoustics of the didgeridoo, Grahm Wiggins officially became Dr. Didg after earning a Ph.D. from Oxford University.
For three months Wiggins mastered his musical instrument of choice, while attending Aboriginal ceremonies on Elcho Island, in northern Australia.
Wiggins incorporated his knew-found knowledge from Down Under into a didgeridoo dance experience using a “live sampling” technique where Wiggins records and samples sounds from the didg, all while playing, to build loops layers upon layers of rhythmic retro-funk, trance and drum ‘n’ bass beats.
On Dust Devils, guitarist Mark Revell and guitar/bass/keyboardist Dave Motion join Wiggins to combine their signature sound sampling with those of the didgeridoo.
The result is a successful genre-crossing, organic-sounding eclectic experiment with electronic music.
Two stand-out tracks on this album include the heavily jazz-infused sound of “Sharks” and the dark drum ‘n’ bass-y distortion of the didgeridoo found in the title track.
— Caitlin Ryan