Terror Squad True Story

With "Lean Back” having made a rapid leap from the underground into the mainstream, the question is whether a reconfigured Terror Squad, headed up by Fat Joe, can actually sustain an entire album of authentic bangers to complement their summer hit. On the evidence True Story presents, the answer is not quite. While there are brief flashes of undeniable dopeness, most of the album feels like a cobbled collection of tracks. "Yeah Yeah Yeah” is perhaps the standout here, fusing Remy Ma’s assured braggadocio to anthemic horns making for a powerful mission statement. But for every track like this, there are missteps like the heavy-handed love joint "Take Me Home” that blatantly court a wider audience and fall flat. Fat Joe himself is no stranger to gaining crossover appeal, but can still pull off credible underground tracks and "Bring ‘Em Back” literally does just that. This track features late, great MCs Big L and Big Pun guesting on Lord Finesse’s rugged production, making for an eerie posse cut. Yet these moments are much too few on an album with 12 tracks that under-uses members of the crew like Tony Sunshine and the promising Armageddon, qualifying the whole project as a missed opportunity, given their recently raised profile. (Universal)