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Remy Ma

There's Something About Remy: Based on a True Story

(Universal; US: 7 Feb 2006; UK: 7 Feb 2006)

She wants to make sure you know that There’s Something About Remy, and she’s going to pound it into your big, fat head. Here’s what that something is: she’s better than you, she’s richer than you, she’s a better rapper than you, she’s sexier than you, she’s better in bed than you, and if you disagree she will beat you, kill you, or cut off parts of you. She’s got some skill to back up the claims (at least the rhyming ones—I can’t speak to the other ones), but her insistence on the reminder, the telling over the showing, eventually wears down what could be an impressive solo debut.


Remy Ma sets the tone early on “She’s Gone” that she’s hard, ripping off an early string of profane suggestions of how real she truly is, with the attitude that matches and a hint of commentary, as when she acknowledges that sex sells, but that she’ll leave the stripping to those who can’t flow like her (although she’ll reverse this idea a few tracks later, claiming pride in having matched her thong to her shoes and saying she needs “a room with a pole in it” and “I was never too proud to show it”). But cut to the chase: she’s “the bitch of all bitches”, and that’s the main thing to remember.


The obssessive self-aggrandizing peaks with “Conceited (There’s Something About Remy)”, which has lyrics ranging from clever put-downs to trite one-liners. She puts it all bluntly, losing the beat to draw attention on the second half of “Who’s that peeking in my window? / No one ‘cause I live in a penthouse.” Considering she’s on the top, she continues coming down to taunt, even going “face down, ass up” to tease; she’d be better off keeping her head about her, because lines like “Your name’s ‘Q’—I only see you when I see ‘U’” don’t cut it. It doesn’t matter, though, because Remy’s going to work the hottness: “See, I look too good to be fucking you”. The important thing isn’t that Remy’s doing well, it’s that you know she’s doing better than you.


Too bad that doing better doesn’t mean better rhymes. The single “Whuteva” nearly drops the whole album with its absurdity, despite having the biggest party-moving beat on the album (produced by Swizz Beatz and utilizing a sped-up “Night on Disco Mountain”). The problem is obvious: dismissing someone with a “Whuteva” shows an astonishing disregard for expiration date, especially for someone in a field where word play and cutting-edge language are so valued. The bottoming out moment comes when Remy declares, “My spit’s so butter, they should call me margarine”.


It would be easy enough to just set this in the line of rap focused on partying or bragging, but Remy Ma has more on her mind, and just hasn’t made the album that deals with it. “What’s Going On” nods to Marvin Gaye’s social concerns with its title, but hits on a personal level as she explores the turmoil of an unwanted pregnancy. The production by Che Harris and Joe Davi isn’t the album’s best, but Remy’s openness does it all. In the context of an aggressive, hard album, this song stands out as the product of a complex person, rather than a blunted persona. Other late tracks carry meat, too, like “Guilty, in which her narrator hits someone with her car and reflects on the pool of causes as well as the exacerbating factors (her weed and her gun), without denying her own complicity in the situation. “Still” closes the album with a basic piano loop and meditations on domestic relationships spinning off sadly. With zero melodrama and the same verve that carries the boasts (but with half the ego), Remy Ma delivers a vivid and memorable picture.


Most of those kind of tracks are buried late in the album, as if she could only reveal herself after convincing us how “real” she is (through a mean facade, of course). I’ve got no interest in hearing Remy make a “conscious” album, but she’s got the thoughts to make an album that says something—that goes for real controversy rather trying to shock with banal lines about sex and gratuitious (and therefore ineffective) language. When Remy learns to put her impressive vocal abilities behind something worth saying, she’s going to be a force.

Rating:

Justin Cober-Lake lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, with his wife, kids, and dog. His writing has appeared in a number of places, including Stylus, Paste, Chord, and Trouser Press. His work made its first appearance on CD with the release of Todd Goodman's first symphony, Fields of Crimson. He's recently co-founded the literary fly-fishing journal Rise Forms.


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