Joey Crack has a long enough resume to make anyone acknowledge him as one of the best rappers to have repped NY in the last couple of decades. I still get excited by a new album from the Don because even as his mainstream popularity may have taken a hit over the years, he never lets us down musically. His latest album, The Darkside Vol. 1, his first as part of E1 (formerly Koch) Entertainment, proves to be no disappointment to a true Hip-Hop fan and a testament to continue to release great music, while keeping his legacy relevant.
Darkside, as the title suggests is supposed to be a trip through the slums of Hip-Hop and it starts off as so with his intro followed by “Valley of Death”, one of many Cool & Dre produced bangers. The album continues with Joe reminiscent of his early Hip-Hop days, channeling into his days of selling illegal substances on tracks like “I Am Crack” and “Kilo”. On the second of those The Clipse and Cam’ron assist Joe in painting a picture of Hip-Hop’s favorite drug.
The album does start off slow for Joe on this one because Darkside or not, no one wants to hear a 17-year rap veteran talk about Crack. Darkside reaches its peak at the midpoint in part because of the features. Jeezy and Trey Songz appear on the singles “Ha Ha (Slow Down Son)” & “If It Ain’t Bout Money” respectively. It gets better with Rico Love, R. Kelly, Too Short and Lil’ Wayne each appearing on one of the next four tracks. Joe does more than required to hold his own with the other artists, but something about a big name feature has always made Joe get more intense on a track. Inspired, he earns every penny spent on this album within the 6 tracks.
The album ends with a solo venture over a DJ Premier beat called “I’m Gone”. His storytelling skills seal the deal on the project, while staying true to everything a Premo production deserves. The albums bonus track, which features Busta Rhymes on the hook provides an extra piece of love for the listener rounding out 13 tracks you’re guaranteed to want to play at least one more time.
Like past albums the production is flawless and the samples whether instantly recognizable or slow to diagnose are creative gems that rival the originals for each record. His wordplay and lyricism is still stuck in the 90’s, a sign that even though he is ten albums strong in the game, he hasn’t lost his hunger yet—something that can’t be said for most of the rap industry these days. I won’t say the album is a Classic but Joe taps into what classic Hip-Hop should sound like on this quality project. Hip-Hop fans should definitely support good music.
Parlé Album Pick:
Fat Joe f/ R. Kelly – How Did We Get Here
The Darkside Vol. 1 receives a PARL
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