“Guess what time it is? My, my, my time
You can check your iPhone, better say it’s our time
I don’t even need a watch, I don’t even see a clock
Soon as a I walk in, it feel like me o’clock
Yeah, me o’clock, everytime I check
Niggaz don’t measure up and try to blame the Pyrex
I’ma do it bigger than a 5X
Can’t ride with a L, so I don’t drive Lex
Game’s so bickery, so full of trickery
Nursery, rhymin, hickory, dickory
Blowin that sour, the hood call it picklery
Biggie, Puffy, Busta, +Victory+”
Nowadays every guest singer on a track produced by The Runners sounds like Akon, T-Pain, or a combination of the two. “My Time,” one of two lead singles from Fabolous’ new album “Loso’s Way” is no exception to the rule. Flavor of the minute Jeremih is the one playing the T-Pain role on the hook. Whether he’d appreciate being considered interchangeable in a formulaic format is debateable, but for all intents and purposes it should be considered a compliment. That formulaic sound has crafted several dozen chart-topping hits, and Fabolous has enough charisma flowing over the beat to get away with mocking nursery rhyme raps at the same time he’s SPITTING them. That’s brass cajones my friends.
“Loso’s Way” is the fifth studio album of a career that has already been four albums longer than most pundits would have predicted. Fab owes that success to ignoring his critics, or if you prefer haters, and perfecting a style of New York gangster narrative that’s 25% braggadocious, 20% swagger, 15% clever punchlines and 15% his “da-da-da-da-DAMN” vocal style. Some might debate whether or not lines like “why don’t you practice safe sex and go fuck yourself” from tracks like “I’mma Do It” are really that clever, but when you add the braggadociousness to the swag and his deadpan New York delivery it all comes together. The cult following Fabolous developed over the last four albums is not accidental – he does just enough to get in the club and on the mainstream drivetime radio without giving up enough machismo to lose the thugs.
Undoubtedly you noticed that the math above only ads up to 75%. What’s the other quarter that takes Fabolous a quarter past all the people who said he wouldn’t last? Beats. Even the throwaway tracks on most Fabolous albums are good enough to be lead singles on anyone else’s shit. “Loso’s Way” is (again) no exception to that rule. Calling the lineup of producers “all star” might even be selling them short a little bit. The Alchemist brings his heavy, dark, echoing electronic effect to a “Lullaby” guaranteed to sing Fab’s enemies to sleep. J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League rings bells and drops a catchy sing-a-long hook into “Feel Like I’m Back.” Jermaine Dupri swings into action not once, not twice but THREE times – the shuffling “Money Goes, Honey Stay” featuring Jay-Z, the “making babies” anthem “Makin Love” featuring Ne-Yo (playing the role of R. Kelly) and “Last Time” featuring Trey Songz. The amazing thing is that NONE of these tracks were the other lead single. That distinction goes to “Throw it in the Bag,” with The-Dream on the cameo and Christopher ‘Tricky’ Stewart on the beat. Holla at ’em Fab:
“Don’t wonder what I do, just know they pay me well
They keep that Gucci and that Louis on my labi-el’s
That’s the way we feel, must be nice man
You with the right man, you ain’t gotta price scan
Or ask how much (much), now what I look like?
Son I’m from Brooklyn (Brooklyn), what it look like?
You get it cause I got it, I got it so you get it
In Miami they say “Don’t stop, get it, get it”
Mami do the speedie, daddy do the duffle
Bag full of chips, and we ain’t talkin Ruffles”
There’s that punchline fifteen again. Fabolous is borderline to being cornball with his jokes, but he’s got the one hundred to pull it off when you add all the elements together. Add in the fact he pulls some of the hottest guest stars in hip-hop for albums like “Loso’s Way” and you’ve got it made. Who else has the ability to get Lil Wayne, Jay-Z and Red Cafe to all cameo on one album? That lineup is another telling factor in understanding the popularity of Mr. F-A-B. Fabolous pulls from every segment of the hip-hop audience – mainstream stars to underground favorites all grace a track and don’t half-ass their appearances. It’s a bit ridiculous just how many cards Fabolous can pull from his deck and get a winning hand every single time. At some point the formula’s destined to break – the corny punchlines will get TOO corny, he won’t be able to avoid all the top producers and big name guests, and the swagger just won’t matter to a fickle hip-hop audience. As long as he can keep pulling it off though don’t player hate, participate. His name’s not Carlito, it’s John Jackson b/k/a Fabolous and he’s doing it “Loso’s Way.” He’s still shinin’.