Before Joe formed the Terror Squad and became a mediocre pop rapper. He was down with the D.I.T.C. (Diggin In The Crates) crew, and ironically he was a mediocre rapper then. I was in my mid teens when Joe dropped his first LP Represent in 1993. I knew dope emcees when I heard them then as well as now, and I knew average or wack emcees when I heard them then as well as now also, and I couldn't believe that SOME people(definitely not everybody) actually took him serious as an emcee. Joe really didn't have that "IT" factor, and quite honestly I don't think he ever achieved it. Funny thing too, some folks actually regard this album as a classic. Look, just because something is over a decade old doesn't mean it's a classic, and just because the game pretty much sucks now, doesn't mean all things from the past are classic either. No, this is a classic example of hyped up "classh*t" being toted as a classic. Seriously, the word classic has become a joke because people are tagging everything they like, and everything 15 years old or so with the word. Hell, they're even tagging stuff that came out yesterday with the word.
The production which is mainly handled by crew members, Diamond D, Lord Finesse, and Showbiz has its shining moments. While other times it can be mediocre. The Beatnuts bring their F game for Joe's strongest track on the album. However, numerous times the production saves several tracks and help them to be listenable.
This debut album is like a hike through mud a majority of the time. The biggest problem on this album is definitely Joe's mic skills concerning his presence and his lack of overall charisma. He can barely carry a track at times, and his braggadocio comes off weak quite often. This is due to his rhymes never being better than average, lackluster lyrics, and he is clearly out shined on all guest appearances, but I will give him credit on some of these tracks though. You'll see later.
The intro uses Tony Montana's dialogue from a real classic, the gangster film Scarface. We're immediately then put through the opening track Livin' Fat. I have to be honest and say that I wasn't gripped to this one bit. For a good while, we're giving nothing but below average tracks with nothing but braggadocio. All you hear is how bad Joe is, and what he can do. This is not necessarily bad material, but when put in the hands of an average rapper. You're simply not going to get anything mind blowing. He should have went the storytelling and retrospective route, because that was when he was at his strongest.
The first posse track which also happens to be the albums second single is Watch The Soundfeaturing Grand Puba and Diamond D. They deliver some pretty solid verses, and the track is good at best, but I prefer the extended remix that didn't make it to the album. Up next is the lead single Flow Joe, which is another braggadocio track with a decent bassline. I never really felt this track, but it's actually among the better ones here. Da Fat Gangsta is definitely among the better ones here, and I like this one with its mafioso feel, in combination with the jazz sound, and sax in the background. Joe does spit a few good bars here, and this track gets a few spins.
The most popular single on this album is The Sh*t Is Real. Joe takes us on the retro tip here, talking about his past, being raised by a single mother, being the bummiest cat in the crew, and having nothing to the point where he mugged his own cousin. This is probably Joe's deepest track ever, but the sorry a** production by the Beatnuts sinks this one. Thankfully, this song would receive the re-mix treatment by the legendary DJ Premier, and the song would be featured on Joe's second album.
Another posse track You Must Be Out of Your F****n Mind, features the late Apache, along with vicious, gangster rhyme spitter Kool G. Rap. The bassline is hot and G. Rap lyrically floors them both on this one, which came as no surprise back then. My only problem with that track is the annoying and ridiculous hook. It actually hurts the track. I Got This In A Smash, is another track that I get into, because of the killer bassline and the sax in the background. This was produced by Showbiz, and even though Joe's lyrics were alright. I think this beat should have been saved for A.G. to spit over. The final song that is worth a couple of spins is the last posse cut Another Wild N***** From The Bronx. Sad to say, but I think Joe was out shined here as well by everybody, but the winner had to be King Sun. I think he stole the track here, and I like the Cypress Hill sample mixed into the hook.
Represent isn't exactly a completely forgettable album, at least not to me it isn't, but it's very far from a good one. Even though it's a debut album, I can't recommend it for a purchase, and I almost always recommend first albums. I recommend trying to download or borrowing it, because I believe it's a must to hear where an artist came from. Especially, if they have a long discography.
Despite how average his rap game was then and still is up to this day. Joe has still managed to hang around, and that should be respected, but this album doesn't get a free pass from me because of his longevity. I think the album should be checked out mainly by his fans, and hip hop fans who must hear everything. Just don't go calling this a classic around me. I'll more than likely just laugh at you.
Track Listing: 1-A Word To Da Wise 2-Livin' Fat 3-My Man Ski (skit) 4-Bad Bad Man 5-Watch The Sound 6-Flow Joe 7-Da Fat Gangsta 8-Shorty Gotta Fat A** 9-The Sh** Is Real 10-You Must Be Out Your F***In Mind feat. Apache & Kool G. Rap 11-I Got This In A Smash 12-Another Wild N***** From The Bronx feat. Gismo, Keith Keith, & King Sun 13-Get On Up 14-I'm A Hit That
Standouts for me: Da Fat Gangsta I Got This In A Smash
Honorable Mentions: Another Wild N***** From The Bronx You Must Be Out Your F***in Mind Watch The Sound
Pros: -A few decent tracks -Features help out
Cons: -Joe is far more boring than captivating -He's outshined on all posse cuts
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