Published Dec 11, 2019Nearing the end of the third quarter, Fat Joe, like many veteran rappers in 2019, pulled up with new energy and hunger that had seemingly been under wraps. He released his first single, "Yes," featuring Latin trap rapper Anuel AA and Bronx star Cardi B in September, leading fans to wonder what the 49-year-old rapper was up to.
It turns out Fat Joe was readying his 12th studio album, Family Ties, a collaborative project with Dre (of production duo Cool & Dre). Coming in at 11 tracks, Family Ties boast several features: crooners Bryson Tiller, Jeremih and Ty Dolla $ign, as well as fellow vets Eminem, Lil Wayne and Mary J. Blige.
The odd casting is telling of the album's unity, or perhaps lack thereof. For instance, on "Hands on You," the duo rap about A Tribe Called Quest and women over a sampling of LL Cool J's "Around the Way Girl", while Tiller and Jeremih sing to a Trap&B generation. Though the disconnect seems to be present, it's not enough to overwhelm the album — instead, it feels more like a fun playlist than a cohesive, thought-out project.
Rather than holding onto a theme that sticks to your ribs, Family Ties weaves in and out of club bangers, R&B-featured collaborations, street music and luxury rap, which could be expected from a less seasoned rapper, but for someone 12 albums deep, the content feels stifled.
Though Fat Joe hasn't missed a step lyrically, and Dre offers his own solid performance, at their best, they are cognizant of who they are in 2019 ("Lord Above," "Pullin'," "Deep") rather than trying to fit in the new generation mould ("Been Thru"). Hopefully, Fat Joe and Dre will hit a lucky strike with a 13th album, and realize that they're more valuable than this album would have you believe. (RNG/Empire)