September 01, 2021

Fat Joe "Don Cartagena" (September 1, 1998)

With "Don Cartagena," Fat Joe reached a new plateau with his rhymes and the entire approach on the album brings "the art of rap at the illest form," as poignantly said by Fat Joe in "Crack Attack," produced by LES of the Trackmasterz. Fat Joe has expanded his reach as an artist, while not compromising his hardcore essence and this time around, more than ever, manages to sprinkle jewels everywhere in his lyrics. In the title track and first single off the album, "Don Cartagena" (an eloquent piano looped track featuring Puff Daddy and produced by Younglord of "The Hitmen"), Fat Joe proclaims "modesty will get you no where / that's why I go there / and let you know where / to buy the new Fat Joe gear," and later in the verse asks, "Let's choose what life you'd rather live / on the streets stabbing kids or living mad sweet in lavish cribs?" Word. Another of the bound-to-be-classics is "John Blaze," a symphony track that guest stars Nas, Raekwon, Big Pun, and Jadakiss (The LOX) and was produced by Ski. Amid the live strings, the MCs flex lyrically. Fat Joe boldly professes, "I used to run mad spots / now I own many shops / gortex with the lock / 560s - 4 bills a pop / I'm hot / who wanna get burned?" A part of Fat Joe's persona is a new found consciousness and goal to reach a balance, keeping it both real and right. Inspired by a meeting he had with Minister Louis Farrakhan, Fat Joe enlisted the Terror Squad to create a politically-charged song. The result was "The Hidden Hand." Produced by Spunk Bigga, this emotionally-tinged track is reflective in nature with peaks captured by a subtle violin. On this track, Joe talks of his trials as a youth and his dreams for the future. "I was a wild adolescent / blessed with the foul essence / messing with the wrong crowd / I learned my lessons / ... / but now I understand the bigger picture / fuck crying about the struggle / I teach ya how to get richer." Press Kit cont'd below...

"Don Cartagena" is truly a trip through a myriad of sounds and escapades. Fat Joe keeps to his essence with the hardcore anthems "Find Out," produced by Marley Marl and "Misery Needs Company," featuring Noreaga. Fat Joe also provides us with "My World," a Baby-Paul produced track which will have crowds chanting, "It's my life, my money, my world, my girls. TS electrify the sky like the third rail" alongside Big Pun. In addition to the star studded names above, the album also features rising rap queen, Charli Baltimore and rap super group Bones Thugs-n-Harmony. Fat Joe's growth as an artist is reflected by the assembled artists and producers that appear on "Don Cartagena." With lots of love come blessings, and with blessings come protection. Blessed by his peoples in entertainment, his family, and the people in the streets, Fat Joe is surrounded by a legion of friends and loved ones. Men who move with that much reverence, power, and respect deserve the title Don. This summer, prepare to welcome "Don Cartagena." "If I ever make a hundred million, I still walk these streets freely; this is what I love man. More importantly, this is reality." Spoken like a true man of the people. - Press Kit, 1998. Revisit one of Fat Joe's best LPs above. R.I.P., Big Pun.