Fabolous :: Ghetto Fabolous
Label: Desert Storm Recordings/Elektra
Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon
The fans really don't care how he spells it, just as long as he sells it.
His raps singlehandedly spur sales of DJ Clue mixtapes, and his rap on the
remix of Lil' Mo's "Superwoman" moved the track from hot to club anthem.
Even the haters had to admire his success this summer, as his name rung
bells in hip-hop and caused a heavy swirl of anticipation around his
full-length debut "Ghetto Fabolous."
Chris Tucker though, he ain't. While the loudmouth and energetic comedian
made the album title's urban slang a household commodity in the movie
"Money Talks," Fabolous is the anathema of the spastic comedian. Like a
mid-day siesta, his lackadaisical raps are slow deliberate movements
which conserve energy and encourage drowsyness. If you put speed flow
on a 1 to 10 scale from Ma$e to Bone Thugs-N-harmony, Fabolous would
rate a 2 - on rare occasions a 3 or 4.
"One Day" is a prime example of the Fabolous style. If you catch
a holy ghost trying to figure out what this song sounds like, think
"Big Ego's" from Dr. Dre's "Chronic 2001" LP. Nevertheless, this
familiar sounding Omen track fits Fabolous like a glove, as he slowly
raps his way through the piano chords about his come up from hustling
to enjoying success in the rap game:
"I just want some piece of mind
Niggaz'll risk havin cuffs on they wrists
for this masterpiece on mine
Know that I'ma squeeze 'til the top of my piece recline
I can't see myself in back of a Caprice confined
But on a small island too far for police to find
With girls who look Greeker than Guyanese combined
I gotta make sure my niece is fine
She get every doll for Christmas, new Jordan's at Easter time"
Fabolous can as such be a vexing rapper. Obviously capable of
penning a decent to above average narrative and spitting some
typical New York style machismo, he still manages to trip over
his own chance in the spotlight. By mentioning Nino Brown from
"New Jack City" on the lead track "Click & Spark" and
the follow-up song "Keepin' it Gangsta" he ends up sounding
pressed for ideas. In fact the latter has weak references
throughout that were dated a decade ago - who still raps
"I keep a +Lethal Weapon+ like Mel Gibson, and Dan Glover" these
days? Having DJ Clue as your biggest producer is not an asset
either. Clue strikes paydirt with a beat about as often as
Big Daddy Kane drops new albums, and this LP is no exception.
The one track he does that can truly be called hot is "Trade
it All" featuring Jagged Edge, but co-producer Duro is
probably the one responsible for making it fuego. The only
other one to come close is "Ride For This," but that's because the
song itself gets a big boost from vocal assistance by Ja Rule.
It's no surprise really who the most energetic and listenable
tracks come from - Timbaland hits hard with "Right Now &
Later On," Rick Rock's electronics bump throughout the popular
single "Can't Deny It" and DJ Envy rocks the ivories on "The
Bad Guy" - Fabolous really seems to sound best over pianoes.
The latter song is also blessed with a hilarious cameo by
rap personality Pain In Da Ass doing his Scarface impression.
You could string these songs together and make a hot twelve
inch or a great EP. As an album though, Fabolous is not the fire
starter his scorching summer seemed to indicate. The inclusion
of the bonus tracks "Gotta Be Thug" and "If They Want It" is
a nice gesture, but it doesn't make up for the mistakes such
as the Neptunes produced "Young'n" - probably the most monotonous
and least appealing of their work to date. While Fabolous has
a name that rings bells and enough promotion by industry
heavyweights to deliver a gold album, this will not be his
vehicle to stardom. The shame of this album is that by failing
to make a huge dent, Fabolous ends up being lumped in with
similar rappers like Jadakiss and Ma$e instead of dropping
an industry bomb worthy of his star-studded name.
Music Vibes: 6 of 10
Lyric Vibes: 6 of 10
TOTAL Vibes: 6 of 10
Originally posted: September 18, 2001