Fat Joe - The Darkside 3 (Review)

Fat Joe - Darkside III

"The Darkside 3" is the third installment in Fat Joe's "Darkside" series of mixtapes. The mixtape features guest appearances from Dre, Action Bronson and Nick Shades as well as production from DJ Premier, Diamond D, 9th Wonder and others. It was released on August 26, 2013 and is available as a free download over on Datpiff.com.


1) DarkSide (featuring Dre) - The first song on the album has a cinematic instrumental, provided by Streetrunner, with some triumphant horns and soulful background vocals. Fat Joe sounds pretty good on here, but I'm not really feelin' the auto-tuned chorus by Dre. If the chorus was better, this song would be really dope. As it is, this song is good, but not great. Still, it's got my hopes up for the rest of the mixtape.

2) Madison Squares - Now this is better. The beat on this track, courtesy of Young Sap and Cool and Dre, is dope as hell and has some sweeping strings and energetic drums. Lyrically Fat Joe does his thing and raps about his usual topics of getting money, women and pushing drugs. Despite the somewhat generic lyrics, this shit is fire and is one of my favorite tracks on here.

3) MGM Grand - Streetrunner returns with another banging instrumental, this time with frantic pianos, booming bass and a sped-up vocal sample. Fat Joe comes correct yet again and raps about how real he is and about living out his dreams. Again, it's nothing mindblowing lyrically, but its dope nonetheless.

4) Pain - Fat Joe kicks a few rhymes about the pain of growing up in the streets over an Illa instrumental that has a distorted vocal sample as it's backbone. This song is dope, but it's a little too short, clocking in at just under two minutes long. I wish it was a bit longer, but it is what it is. Nice.

5) Your Honor (featuring Action Bronson) - I can't remember the last time I heard Fat Joe over a DJ Premier beat, so I was definitely looking forward to this song. The instrumental is dope, with a subdued guitar loop and boom-bap drums, but doesn't really sound like a cookie-cutter Primo beat (which is a nice change by the way). Both emcees come through and do their thing, referencing everything from Fat Joe's recent prison sentence to Jay-Z and Beyonce's baby, Blue Ivy. This shit is fire.

6) 9th Wonder - Fat Joe kicks some of his usual rhymes over a soulful 9th Wonder instrumental with a soft piano sample looped up over boom-bap drums. Once again, there is nothing insanely dope on here lyrically, but the way Fat Joe spits over the production sounds great and the beats are banging. Very ill.

7) The Cypher (featuring Nick Shades) - Fat Joe and guest Nick Shades both kick rhymes over a head-nodding Diamond D instrumental that I know I've heard before. I think the sample is the same sample that either Pete Rock or Showbiz has used in the past, but I can't place it for some reason. Oh well, the beat is dope and both emcees bring it, especially Nick Shades (who I've never heard of before). Nice.

8) Grimey In The Early 90s - Illa returns with another energetic instrumental that has a cinematic backing sample layered up over head-nodding drums. The beat is ill and Joey Crack rips it, rapping about his come-up during hip-hop's "Golden Era" among other things. Very nice. Too bad it's so short.

9) Bass (featuring Nick Shades) - Cool And Dre come through with another dope instrumental, this time with a prominent vocal loop and a sprinkle of synths over booming bass. Fat Joe and Nick Shades both spit respectable verses, with Nick coming the hardest in my opinion. This isn't a standout for me, but it's still pretty good.

10) Angels Sing - The final song on the album has an extremely dope instrumental by Young Hype, with an ethereal vocal sample and slamming drums. Fat Joe rips his first verse, but I'm not really feelin' his flow on the second verse. That being said, this song is still really good.

I'm going to rate the mixtape

3.5 / 5

because its actually quite dope. The beats and really good the whole way through, with instrumentals ranging from boom-bap bangers to tracks that sound like something off of one of Fat Joe's more recent albums. There is nothing pop on here though, with almost every song sounding more like a modernized take on the old New York sound. Lyrically Joey Crack is still on point for the most part and doesn't really try to stray any from his tried-and-true formula of street inspired lyrics. The auto-tune chorus on the first track and a few weaker verses from Fat Joe hold the mixtape back a bit, but these are minor issues in the scope of the album. I just wish this shit was longer. Head on over to Datpiff.com and download the mixtape for free when you get a chance.

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