EMPIRE via SoundCloud
EMPIRE via SoundCloud

It's not every day that a pair of rap veterans can get a second lease on life as relevant artists, but Fat Joe and Remy Ma have accomplished that feat, rising from the brink of obscurity to emerge as one of the hottest duos in hip-hop today.

After formerly being at odds due to Remy's displeasure with how she felt Fat Joe handled the rollout for her debut album, There's Something About Remy: Based on a True Story, and both serving prison bids, the two reconnected a decade later. Now they look to recreate the magic they captured on the 2004 Terror Squad album, True Story -- albeit sans the rest of the gang -- on their collaborative album, Plata O Plomo.

The album serves as their first full-length release from both rappers since their respective prison bids. Plata O Plomo is the culmination of a year-long victory for the two, which saw them find their way back onto the Billboard charts with their Grammy-nominated single "All the Way Up," one of the definitive songs of 2016.

"Warning," the first shot fired on Plata O Plomo, features a guest appearance from singer Kat Dahlia, finds the two Bronx bombers talking greasy over production by Cool & Dre and Eric Kovacs, giving the opposition a heads up that they're looking to shake things up in the rap game and plan on taking no prisoners. "Before the red carpets I was into narcotics/Beat bad bitches rats and all charges," Fat Joe raps, living up to his kingpin persona, boasting of his criminal exploits and the trappings of his lavish lifestyle and appears to be in game-shape from a lyrical aspect.

A lengthy jail sentence has been proven to diminish the skills of more than a few rappers over the years, but Remy Ma shows no such signs of rust, attacking the track with the aggression and swagger that belies her decade-long hiatus. On "Warning," she drops bars like, "What's your war plan they should of prepared you/I'm ready to ride on bitches already in gear two/They said for me to blow that I had to air you/Could of ended your career but I spared you." The gorgeous gangstress makes it clear that she's coming to reclaim her spot as the Queen of Rap, adjusting her crown without regard for any collateral damage.

Wasting no time proving that their recent accolades and the fanfare surrounding it has done nothing to compromise their ability to deliver overt tough talk and screwfaces with "Warning," Fat Joe and Remy Ma double up on "Swear to God," a Kent Jones-assisted number that features a rock-inspired soundbed provided by Cool & Dre.

Continuing their lyrical rampage with a barrage of cocky one-liners and menacing couplets, Fat Joe and Remy connect with Kent Jones again on "How Can I Forget," this time with Jones contributing an impressive showing of his own which should continue to raise the rising spitter's stock. Remy Ma is at her most brash on the track, recounting her incarceration and her predicted reemergence as one of rap's premier female lyricists. "I can remember me sittin' up in my cell/I was sneakin' makin' calls on my cell/Talkin' 'bout the records I was gon' sell/I am a boss bitch," she raps, with Fat Joe following suit, reminiscing on his own experiences in the belly of the beast.

While Plata O Plomo is largely powered by tracks geared toward the concrete jungle and musings of a hustler and a thug misses, the album's most riveting song arrive during its more tender moments. "Go Crazy," which features vocals from R&B singers Sevyn Streeter and BJ The Chicago Kid, contains a sample of Floetry's classic slow burner "Say Yes," and sees the two hard rocks smoothing things out with flirtatious musings geared to the opposite sex. "It's the don and Remy Revlon, believe I'm worth it/I got a nice set, oh they perkin'," Remy Ma purrs, showcasing her ability to turn on the sex appeal while simultaneously displaying her lyrical bite.

Switching up the tempo with The-Dream assisted "Heartbreak," a serviceable pop-friendly composition that could be a potential single from the album, Plata O Plomo continues to roll along, but its most addictive selection comes in the form of a Ty Dolla $ign collaboration, "Money Showers."

Produced by Cool & Dre, "Money Showers" is a standout that's geared towards the strip-club, with Fat Joe painting the scene, rhyming, "I make it rain on them hoes, I got that Amber vision/We in the back of the Rolls, her and Blac Chyna kissing/Give me a slice of the cake, I made it shower with dough/That's a whole lotta bread, you know it had to be Joe," while Ty Dolla $ign, who nearly steals the show from the two rappers, tackles the hook duties.

Although Remy Ma's verse slightly strays from the matter at hand, she still holds up her end of the bargain, completing the cipher with an efficient verse of her own that sees her invoking the name of her deceased mentor and playing dominatrix. Another offering from Plata O Plomo that stands as a highlight is "Too Quick," a sensual selection featuring vocalist Kingston that finds Fat Joe and Remy getting kinky and spewing sweet nothings over the ILL Wayno-produced track.

Plata O Plomo may be a collaborative effort, with equal billing, and Remy Ma comes with enough quotables to make her comeback to the scene an explosive one, but Fat Joe's presence and dominant performances throughout the album are apparent, a testament to his reputation as one of the most respected, but unsung veterans on the East Coast. While slight hiccups occasionally occur on Plata O Plomo, they are far and few between, as no clunkers are to be found throughout the album's 12 tracks, making it a smooth listen with a considerable amount of replay value.

With both touching on their experiences in the prison system and their rise to the top of the food chain, Plata O Plomo is a triumphant return for Fat Joe and Remy Ma.

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