Music Article

Slammed or Slammin'?

Fat Joe rates the songs of summer 2005. The rapper Leans Back and decides which of 8 singles have a shot to heat up the charts

Wondering what everyone will be grooving to on the way to the beach this summer? So were we. To find out which new singles will rule radio in the coming months, we turned to Fat Joe, the man behind last summer's scorching anthem ''Lean Back.'' And being the gentleman that he is, he took a batch of contenders out for a spin in his very own 2004 Escalade, complete with diamond-studded 24-inch rims and a stereo system loud enough to blast pot holes.

FOO FIGHTERS
''Best of You''

WHY IT MIGHT BLOW UP Dave Grohl & Co. are not exactly slouches in the hit-singles department, and this one features their signature heavy howling and pounding.
FAT JOE SAYS ''It's aight, but I don't know about summer classic. It doesn't really touch me or take me there. [Turns up volume as if to give the song another chance. Two minutes and a few fist pumps later...] This record is really dope, yo. And the chorus is crazy. Dope.''

COMMON FEATURING JOHN MAYER AND KANYE WEST
''GO!''

WHY IT MIGHT BLOW UP John Mayer with two of Chicago's finest MCs? Sounds weird, but Mayer's virtually unrecognizable vocal sample works over the lithe, catchy track.
FAT JOE SAYS [Raises a fist] ''Common's on fire right now. I just heard the beat and started buggin'. Dope. He's killin' them this year. This is my most anticipated album.''

THE WHITE STRIPES
''Blue Orchid''

WHY IT MIGHT BLOW UP Jack White's falsetto-driven melody crashes over a persistent bare-bones drumbeat to striking effect.
FAT JOE SAYS ''I'm not crazy about the song, but I do like the guitar. I heard they put on the best live show. [Listens intently for another minute] I like the beat, but I don't know what the f--- the dude is saying.''

COWBOY TROY
''I Play Chicken With the Train''

WHY IT MIGHT BLOW UP A member of Big & Rich's posse, he's a 6'5'' African-American cowboy who mixes hip-hop with country.
FAT JOE SAYS ''Is this Uncle Kracker? This guy found his niche: He uses country to rap on and create a market all for his own. I don't necessarily know if this is a hit. I can't see that.''

MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE
''Helena''

WHY IT MIGHT BLOW UP This New Jersey emo band rocks harder than Linkin Park. And without any whiny raps.
FAT JOE SAYS ''Yeah, that got that bounce right there. It has all the elements of a hit. I love the way it slows and breaks down in the hook.'' [Turns up volume to 11]

PRETTY RICKY
''Grind With Me''

WHY IT MIGHT BLOW UP A midtempo R&B bump-'n'-grinder from the new singing-rapping foursome — a radio fave below the Mason-Dixon Line for months.
FAT JOE SAYS [Immediately sways his arms and half-dances in his seat] ''This is a hit right here! Pretty Ricky. I'm excited about these kids. [More arm-swaying] It gives you a good vibe, it just feels real dope. It kinda makes me feel like Bone Thugs when they first came out. Probably like a mixture of Bone Thugs and H-Town.''

ANNA NALICK
''Breathe (2 A.M.)''

WHY IT MIGHT BLOW UP Every summer needs a sleeper hit, and this Dido-ish lullaby from the 21-year-old California singer-songwriter seems like a safe bet.
FAT JOE SAYS ''It's a real hot song. This feels great. [Turns volume way up for several minutes] This takes you to a different place, man. The best one [we heard today].''

FAT JOE FEATURING NELLY
''Get It Poppin'''

WHY IT MIGHT BLOW UP Two ballers are better than one. Plus, Scott Storch's sparkling production walks the gender-appeal line with hit-conscious aplomb.
FAT JOE SAYS ''This is a no-brainer. You know, I like this even more after listening to all those other songs. It's right up there with the best of them.''

Originally posted May 23, 2005 Published in issue #821-822 May 27, 2005 Order article reprints