There’s Something About Remy
uccessful female rappers are such a rare phenomenon that they're usually discussed in hypothetical terms, speculating about what they need to make it: lyrical talent, some sex appeal, but not too much, a just-one-of-the-guys swagger, and ties to a respected crew or male rap star. Of course, post-Lil Kim and Foxy Brown, several female MCs have come down the pike fitting these criteria and selling more than sex. But for every Eve who crosses over and gets a platinum plaque, there's a dozen like Rah Digga and Shawnna plagued with album delays and meager sales.
Remy Ma, formerly known as Remy Martin before looming Cognac copyrights forced the name change, knows a thing or two about release dates getting pushed back. It's been two years since her breakthrough verse on Terror Squad's #1 single, "Lean Back." But her debut LP has been in the works since even before her mentor Big Punisher, one of the greatest rappers of all time, passed away in 2000. The Big Pun collabo on There's Something About Remy, "Thug Love," was even completed specifically for this album while he was still alive. Just think, There's Something About Mary was probably still a current pop culture reference when she titled the album.
That kind of wait would frustrate any artist, but especially so for Remy, whose entire persona seems to be based on an arrogant sense of entitlement. It's a quality that doesn't make people especially likeable, but for rappers it's a classic archetype that can make for hot records, and no female rapper has ever carried a chip on their shoulder quite like Remy. Her first words on There's Something About Remy are “What do you mean I'm your 2nd favorite female rapper? That's crazy, I'm better than most of these niggas...”
Although she sometimes affects the petulant tone of Veruca Salt in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (i.e. "Tight"'s temper tantrum: "ain't nobody fuckin' with me, me me me me me me me!"), Remy usually expresses her high self regard by rapping in a bored, slightly pissed off monotone. And nowhere is that approach used to greater effect than on the single "Conceited," where Scott Storch's "Lean Back" rehash works better than it has any right to as Remy recites her daily affirmation, which basically translates to: I'm the shit, I'm better than you, and doggone it, people like me.
Unfortunately, it's not a good omen for an album when the two most appealing songs, "Conceited" and the Swizz Beatz-produced banger "Whuteva," were already singles, and didn't do particularly well on the charts at that. Still, There's Something About Remy is at least consistent, and she turns in uniformly strong verses even over ill-fitting beats like the token Southern joint, "I'm," produced by David Banner. But Remy is at her best when she has a solid concept to sink her teeth into, like "Bilingual" featuring Ivy Queen or the brief, perfectly executed storytelling track, "Guilty."
After nearly an hour of relentless swagger and aggression, Remy finally shows some emotional depth during There's Something About Remy's last two songs. On "What's Going On" featuring Keyshia Cole, Remy raps from the perspective of a pregnant teenager who struggles with the decision to have an abortion. It's the kind of conflicted but vulnerable side that might connect with more listeners than all the bravado and bluster Remy has to offer. The album closes with "Still," a more deliberate attempt to show her vulnerability, but Remy nonetheless manages to come off like a spoiled celebrity with statements like "even people with a fanbase have bad days." By that point, though, it doesn't really matter, because anyone who's still listening has figured out that this is one cocky bitch who's earned the right to brag.