Artist: Fat Joe featuring Armageddon
Title: "My Prerogative"
Album: Don Cartagena (1998)
In 1998, Joseph "Fat Joe" Cartagena was riding an unexpected wave of popularity, one brought upon by his affiliation with the late Big Punisher, whose debut album, Capital Punishment, was met with both critical acclaim and respectable sales. Since he's the one that put Big Pun on in the first place (let's pretend The Beatnuts don't exist for the purpose of this statement), Joey Crack felt he deserved all the credit, and as such, we all witnessed a resurgence of interest in his solo career, for better or for worse. He parlayed this into Don Cartagena, his 1998 bid for mainstream acceptance that obviously featured Pun, but also Puff Daddy in a supporting role, because that's how he rolled that week. Joe's ego has never recovered, but that doesn't mean he wasn't still capable of putting out some good music.
Don Cartagena features the first credited appearance of his newly-formed group Terror Squad, which had absorbed Pun's Full-A-Clips Crew in its entirety, since Fat Joe didn't like Big Pun to have nice things. However, he wasn't above charity, so buried deep within the bowels of Don Cartagena is "My Prerogative", a solo track featuring group member Armageddon. Yep, that's right: even though the credits say otherwise, Large Joseph doesn't have anything to do with today's playlist selection, even though it does appear on his album.
"My Prerogative" is an Armageddon solo showcase on which he both produces and spits two verses and a hook. The beat consists of shrieks and stabs set to a shuffling drum beat, and sounds much better than I just described: it's pretty dope, and it's catchy enough to grab a few new ears, had the label thought enough of it to try to push it as even just a promotional single. It's a simple instrumental that barely changes, but the song itself doesn't last long enough for that to become a problem.
Armageddon's verses allow the man to stand apart from his crew, which, at the time, was a sausage-fest featuring Pun and Joe alongside Cuban Link, Prospect, and Triple Seis, most of whom now have their own problems with Large Joseph, having cut ties with the Squad long ago. His bars, while playful, are full of your typical boasts 'n bullshit, but delivered confidently and skillfully; perhaps the fact that he produced his own song is the reason why he sounds so comfortable behind the mic. "My Prerogative" is certainly a much more lyrical performance than one would have expected from a Fat Joe album, although, once again, Joe isn't a factor on here, so yay!
This is essentially an interlude, not unlike the ones from the D-12 albums where they allowed Obie Trice and Young Zee to try to reach a wider audience, but Armageddon makes the most of his three minutes (the last portion of the track is devoted to an skit which, ugh) in the sun by unleashing a monster behind the mic. It's the kind of track that would have earned Armageddon a cult following had it made its debut on, say, a DJ Clue mixtape, as opposed to on a major label rap album, since I never heard anyone else singing this song's praises when it first dropped. But that's okay: we can turn that all around today. Give "My Prerogative" a listen, or if you're already familiar with Don Cartagena, a second chance, and you'll find an enjoyable banger that holds up, even if the rest of the album may not. (I say "may not" because I haven't yet gotten to Don Cartagena in my ongoing project and don't really remember what most of it sounds like. But when I finally do, you'll at least already know how I feel about this one song.)
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