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Terror Squad 

True Story (Universal)

Want to make a bad album? Have a second-tier rapper record an album with his generally unimpressive crew in just a few days, so as to capitalize on said crew's current hit. In most cases, that is a certified waste of effort. In the hands of Fat Joe's Terror Squad, that is, mysteriously, a recipe for success.

Reportedly thrown together in an unreasonable nine days, True Story aims to capitalize on Terror Squad's dominating single, "Lean Back." In "Lean Back," Joe yells about crime, takes shots at Jay-Z and tells club patrons to pull up their pants, while female crew member Remy Ma steals the track. On True Story, Terror Squad provides more of the same. Always good for some New York griminess, Joe's ongoing feud with Jay-Z continues amid loud representing of the Bronx and everyday bitches-'n'-guns rap. Despite ten years in the game, Joe struggles to hold an album himself, but similar contributions from TS members Prospect and Armageddon switch up styles just enough to keep True Story from getting boring. Prospect and Armageddon each destroy their solo cuts, "Thunder in the Air" and "Pass Away," respectively. Crooner Tony Sunshine's token love song, "Streets of New York," has an understated sweetness that Usher could never reach with his generic melodrama. Though she has Lil' Kim's style, Remy tosses off Kim's convention of tantalizing her male listeners. Terror Squad's first lady is much less subservient, much more concerned with getting hers when she wants it, so she can get back to counting money with Joe and the boys. Terror Squad may be Fat Joe's crew, but True Story is Remy Ma's album.

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