Why has Fat Joe’s new album been deleted from streaming services?
On August 10, veteran rapper Fat Joe surprised fans by announcing a new project titled, What would Big do in 2021? with none other than eminent mixtape DJ, DJ Drama. After the announcement the next day, the Bronx emcee and his team flooded social media with the track list. Executive produced by longtime collaborators, Cool & Dre, the 9-track album, included a roster of feature films by Remy Ma, Ceelo Green, Lil Yachty, French Montana, Sevyn Streeter and others.
Prior to the release, Fat Joe released two moderately successful singles, “Sunshine”, which was produced by internet sensation Amorphous, and “Back Outside” with Remy Ma. What would Big do in 2021? marked the rapper’s 11th studio project “Lean Back” and brought a heavily sampled, old-fashioned summer vibe to Miami. The project’s nod to the late rapper Notorious BIG can be attributed to Joey’s lyrical muscle on an R&B-influenced soul production that caters directly to the ladies. On some tracks, it returns some of BIG’s most popular lyrics.
Released on all streaming platforms on Friday August 13 with mostly positive reviews on hip-hop sites and on social networks, as of today (August 23), the project is no longer accessible on Apple Music, tide, Where Spotify, and Fat Joe, Cool & Dre or DJ Drama have not yet explained why, or even acknowledged the deletion of the project. Fans began to demand answers.
What would Big do in 2021? is arguably one of Fat Joe’s most cohesive projects to date. The project includes replay-worthy tunes and Joe seems fairly at ease throughout his contagious, boastful NY energy. The “Intro” feat. CeeLo Green, “Michael”, “Diamonds”, “Babyface”, feat. Seven Streeter and “Sunshine” are all standout potential hits that bolster the rapper’s longevity in hip-hop. In addition to Joey’s catchy pun and smooth cadence, the production on the project is quite impressive. Led by Cool & Dre, producers Bongo By The Way, 808-Ray, Amorphous, Dj Khaled, and The Mercenaries all bring something precious to the table, from the hard-hitting 808s to chop samples. creative or various drum patterns.
Unfortunately, one of the strengths of the project is also its biggest downfall: the samples. As confirmed by his camp, Fat Joe and Cool & Dre failed to secure clearance for seven of the nine well-produced tracks.
There was a time in hip-hop history when artists could sample any record without penalty, whether obscure or contemporary. Sampling is an art and in the early 90s it became a major component of the hip-hop soundscape. In the anarchic days of sampling, recycling classic jazz, funk, or R&B jams was an affordable (and also creative) way to create rhythm. It wasn’t until hip-hop gained global success that record companies saw an opportunity to cash in on re-using music, even if it was just cadence. Artists like A Tribe Called Quest, Biz Markie, The Beastie Boys, and De La Soul have all experienced what it’s like to be sued for unauthorized use of someone else’s sounds. Nearly thirty years later, the music industry has a clear understanding of what constitutes sampling and what does not, and strict and expensive guidelines are in place for obtaining clearance. There are a number of reasons other than monetary why a record label or an artist’s estate denies sample clearance requests. Before his death, the legendary prince was known to turn down all requests for samples.
By many accounts, What would Big do in 2021? further proves just how underrated Fat Joe is. He put together a dream team that included a dope-ass DJ with a track record from one of hip-hop’s most iconic mixtape series, two Grammy-nominated super executive producers, talented newcomers like Amorphous. and a list of perfectly tailored features from some of the culture’s most talented singers. One could only imagine the possibilities if each sample was cleaned.
For now, fans can still listen to the entire album (with the exception of Prince’s sampled track) on Youtube and Datpiff.com
Listen to “Sunshine” and “Back Outside” below.