Artist: Remy Ma
Album: There’s Something About Remy
Label: SRC / Universal
Rating: 6.5 / 10
Reviewer: A to the L
Plagued by label and crew difficulties, Remy Ma’s debut album “There’s Something About Remy” has been a long time coming. Too long according to the only female member of the Terror Squad, who has complained in promotional interviews that most of the material on it is over a year old, and had sat on the shelf while Fat Joe and SRC sat on their ass instead of pushing it out to the public.
Rewind to the year 2000… struggling to overcome the death of her mentor, Big Pun (who brought her into the public eye with an appearance on his sophomore album “Yeeeah Baby”) and the implosion of the first version of the Terror Squad, Remy worked hard to keep her name on the lips and in the ears of the Hiphop community. Guest spots and verses on several high profile remixes and mixtapes kept her star shining while Fat Joe reformed a new Terror Squad clique. By 2004 it seemed all the crew members were destined for big things following the world adopting ‘Lean Back’ as its summer anthem, and Remy dominating several other tracks on the “True Story” album which dropped on the heels of the smash single. However, single success couldn’t carry over to album sales, and as Soundscan ratings faltered, the Squad again were rumored to be plagued by jealousy and infighting. With the label dawdling over pushing Remy’s solo album out, Fat Joe seemed more intent on going back and forth with 50 Cent, and the recording masters gathered dust.
Until now. “There’s Something About Remy” finally sees the light of day boasting production from Scott Storch, Buckwild, Cool & Dre, David Banner and the Alchemist amongst others, and gives Remy the chance to prove that in the absence of Lil Kim and Foxy, there’s a new madam who can run with the big boys.
‘She’s Gone’ is a poor opener. Buckwild’s tepid production doesn’t stray from commercial NY territory, and Remy’s boasts are both unenthusiastic and hollow, with more of a focus on foul-mouthed sex rhymes a la Lil Kim, than with proving any of the real skills she has exhibited in the past. Things don’t improve with the Scram Jones and Agallah-produced ‘Lights Camera Action’, which comes off as a lightweight copy of Memphis Bleek’s ‘1, 2 Y’all’ despite its throwback lyrical feel, or the sluggish ‘Tight’ where Remy trades lazy verses with Fat Joe over uninspiring Cool & Dre synths.
Thankfully things pick up with the first single, ‘Whateva’. A certified club banger, this Swizz Beatz produced heater provides Remy with a solid base to fire off eye-opening lyrics in her trademark gruff voice.
“See Rem is a monster,
I’m rap’s MVP the star on the roster,
Officially a Boogie Down Bronxter,
Terror Squad ain’t the Brady Bunch and I ain’t Marcia,
My shit’s so butter they should call me marge,
And I ain’t gotta be boss as long as I’m in charge,
And whatever I say goes, so if I say no,
Don’t ask why I assume it’s because I say so,
I’ve been doin this too long, it ain’t nuttin new to me,
I’ll run through your lil gated community,
You know how the girl be, I’m a show stopper,
I’ll give it to you early before the toast pops up.”
The sultry ‘Conceited’ follows, and although the track is indeed addictive, it shows exactly why this album may struggle. Scott Storch’s production would sound amazing if this was the FIRST time we’d heard him drop this kind of track for an artist, but as this comes hot on the heels of virtually identical work for Kim and 50 amongst others, ‘Conceited’ sounds more formulaic than dynamic, and illustrates exactly why Remy was so pissed about the amount of time it took to get this album to the shelf.
From there, the majority of the rest of the album descends into a hotchpotch of commercial Hiphop by numbers, with attempts for crossover radio play (‘Feels So Good To Me’) jockeying for position amidst underground club bangers (‘I’m’), gangsta tales for the thugs (‘Guilty’), and the obligatory autobiographical street confessional (‘Crazy’ and ‘Still’) and reggaeton tracks (‘Bilingual’). Buried amongst these and the godawful ‘Secret Location’, are a couple of tracks that definitely point to a brighter future for Remy once the label drama is pushed to the background.
‘Thug Love’, bluntly put, is a great example of how to duet with a dead rapper. Yes, it sounds incredibly harsh – but in these recent times of unearthing Biggie and Pun tapes for nowt but commercial gain, its refreshing to hear one song that was actually recorded WITH the deceased co-star over a beat the deceased co-star approved WHILE the deceased co-star was still alive. Yes, Pun’s off key singing is horrific, but his verse and his chemistry with Remy makes the listener appreciate exactly why he was and is such a well respected figure in the Hiphop community.
‘What’s Going On’ piques the interest more for the subject matter than for the Che Harris-laced production, as Remy breaks down her own tale of unplanned pregnancy and the struggles in deciding on abortion. The Keyshia Cole chorus is definitely in the ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ zone, but at the end of the day, its the bravery of Remy in bringing this out into the open on wax in such a descriptive manner that deserves commendation.
If this had been released a year ago, I feel that we would be talking about THIS album a lot more than we actually will now. The Scott Storch and Swizz Beatz bandwagons were rolling over everything then and DJs were spinning their new sounds to death, and THAT was the time to strike with much of the material on this album. As it is, with everything that has come before it, this sounds less ‘something about Remy’ and more about everyone else’s sound. Its definitely unfortunate for her, as I feel that the woman does have genuine skills, but I fear her ship has sailed on this album. Its definitely one you’ll want to check out before buying, but like it or not, it shouldn’t make you discount Remy herself in any way.