The Terror Squad of True Story is notably different than the group that had debuted five years earlier on its self-titled release. Much had changed for the Fat Joe-led group during those five years, above all the passing away of group heavyweight Big Punisher, who had brought substantial star power and talent to Terror Squad. In addition to his loss, a couple other group members are MIA here on True Story -- Cuban Link and Triple Seis -- having been supplanted by Remy, aka Remy Martin, a sharpshooting female MC who gets plenty of time in the spotlight, second only to Fat Joe himself. The other Terror Squad members -- rappers Prospect and Armageddon, and singer Tony Sunshine -- are now pushed far to the periphery, only making a few appearances apiece. These changes are beneficial ones, like them or not. Back in 1999, when Terror Squad recorded its debut album, gangsta rap was in vogue as were posse efforts à la Wu-Tang Clan; however, in 2004, club-oriented collabos graced with catchy singalong hooks were in vogue as were name-brand personalities. And this is indeed the difference between this Terror Squad album and its predecessor -- it's clubby and dominated by the well-known Fat Joe and the appealing Remy, who make a good, marketable couple. Of course, this means True Story often feels more like a duet album than a group one, no doubt to the dismay of the other Terror Squad members and the fans who like them, but it makes for an album that's fitting for its era. And nowhere is that more in evidence than on the downright hypnotic lead single, "Lean Back," a perfect club-ready duet between Joe and Remy that boasts a trademark Scott Storch beat and a memorable singalong hook (and dance-along step) -- "my niggas don't dance, we just pull up our pants/do the Rockaway/now lean back, lean back, lean back, lean back" -- illustrated well amid the brownstone party of the song's video. A few other songs here on the 12-track, 43-minute-long True Story are notable if not exceptional: "Yeah Yeah Yeah," with its crazy beat and Remy feature; "Take Me Home," a fun-spirited player anthem with a Kanye West-style sped-up-sample hook; "Streets of NY," another Remy feature, this one highlighted by a bright Tony Sunshine vocal; and "Bring'em Back," a from-the-grave collaboration between Fat Joe and the passed-away tag team of Big Pun and Big L. Then there's the standard filler, of course, which in this case is sequenced toward the second half of the album (from track eight on). Taken as a whole, however, True Story amounts to a solid half-hour listen if you forgo the filler, and "Lean Back" alone might be reason enough for many to pick this one up, even if that repeat-worthy song is far and away the high point.
AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier
feat: Fat Joe
feat: Prospect Park