We all can spell it by now, eff-aye-be-oh-el-o-you-ess, he’s successfully spelled his name right into most of our consciousness. One of the more recognizable artists to rise up from mixtapes to mainstream, Mr. Jackson hits us with his 5th effort which seems to be a concept album a kin to American Gangster. I liked his last album so I’m anxious to see if he can deliver again.
1. The Way (intro) Produced by Street Runner
I won’t pretend to know who Fabo is beefin’ with, past, present, or future, but he ain’t happy with someone. It may have to do with folks seemingly passing him up and him being an afterthought in the game thus far. I don’t know, but he’s taking issue and asserting himself as one of the illest to “walk in the game with no crutches / no Diddy, no Dupri, no Dr. Dre / no cash money from baby, and no Roc’s from Jay”. This intro has a lot of aggression and a champion beat. We get full horns wailing’ and a drumline inspired drum set up. Simplicity works for this one as we get started on this album.
2. My Time Featuring Jeremih; Produced by The Runners
This beat isn’t bad. It’s not revolutionary or anything, but it definitely has that head nod quality. Jeremih doesn’t sound like the same Jeremih from “Birthday Sex”. So, that said, it’s hard to really get the star pull when he doesn’t sound like what you expect. He could have easily (or maybe not so easily, what do I know) called The-Dream for this one and it would have sounded a lot better. Lyrically, there isn’t anything I can remember from this one. This one is probably made for radio and may get that love for star power and tempo alone. I’m not a big fan of this one as a complete song.
3. Imma Do It Featuring Kobe; Produced by DJ Khalil
SOON as the intro singing starts, I actually rather hear Ron Browz doing this one. I don’t know much about Kobe or who he is, but his name is popping’ up everywhere lately. I’m also not a fan of the track on this one. There’s just too much going on and an odd sounding thump for this track just makes it too much. Fab’s best line on here is the lead in to the hook “My attitude is celibate I don’t give a fuck” and “My attitude is virgin I STILL don’t give a fuck.” The rest of his lyrics aren’t bad though, but these lines are probably the most memorable from this song.
4. Feel Like I’m Back Produced by J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League
Look, I’m not gonna pretend to be a mixer/producer at all, but this track sounds soft. I don’t know how to explain it really. The elements are there, but overall, it’s just soft. The thump, the horns, the chords, they are all missing that extra impact. I don’t like the hook on this one at all and personally, I think this one could have been scrapped overall. SKIP
5. Everything, Everyday, Everywhere Featuring Keri Hilson; Produced by Ryan Leslie
If you want to get on the radio, you can’t go wrong with Keri Hilson and Ryan Leslie. R. Les can produce a beat no matter what you need and Keri Hilson does a fantastic job on this hook. I’m sure we’ll see this one on the radio. I can’t wait to hear how they edit the line “We in this bitch like an unborn baby”, that shit, although cringe-worthy, is funny as hell.
6. Throw It in the Bag Featuring The-Dream, Produced by Christopher “Tricky” Stewart
As proven again, picking the right folks to get radio play is one of Fab’s best talents. The-Dream and Tricky team up to give us the lead single. Personally, I’m not with the “it ain’t trickin’ if you got it” movement, but I ain’t got it so take that with a grain of salt…that aside this song is decent.
7. Money Goes, Honey Stay (When the Money Goes Remix) Featuring Jay-Z; Produced by Jermaine Dupri
So far, songs 5 thru 7 sound like a strong cohesive run of radio ready, R&B influenced tracks that could give Fabo some attention for this album. I think as Jay ramps up for the release of The Blueprint 3, radio is clamoring for anything Jay. I think that with the other two songs before it, this is a consistent offering but stand alone, I’m kind of bored with it. Also, after realizing that Jay is just doing the hook and not flowing, I quickly get bored with this one. I do still think the radio may pick this one up.
8. Salute Featuring Lil’ Wayne; Produced by Miguel Jiminez for “The Council”
Cut from the same cloth as “The Mighty O” and other marching band influence hits, Miguel Jiminez brings us the track for Salute. Some things never get old no matter how often it’s done, and this sound is one of them. Weezy offers up his signature flow…but he didn’t really say anything. Lyrically, this may be one Loso’s most quotable on the album. “You feed a sucka he just grows to be a bigger leach…told’ em I don’t see nobody I’m a rappin’ Ray Charles / I think I need a seeyin’ eye dog / come to bein’ fly, you ain’t seein’ I dog…They ain’t ballin’, these niggas is foulin’ out / they ain’t throwin’ jabs they just throwin’ towels out”. There was some unfortunate stutter style flowing on here by fab, but other than that, this song is pretty dope.
9. There He Go Featuring Paul Cain, Red Cafe, & Freck Billionaire; Produced by Blackout Movement
The standout flow on this one is done by Red Cafe whose flow and confidence really lend themselves well to this track. Freck’s delivery is pretty nice as well and hopefully we’ll hear more from this guy in the future. The hook is pretty elementary and when coupled with the laid back emotion of the track, this one is almost a sleeper.
10. The Fabolous Life Featuring & Produced by Ryan Leslie
It’s a R. Les joint, you know what to expect on the track. Something that will make you want to dance, nod your head, or whatever equivalent you do in your world. The line “She don’t wear skinny jeans cause her ass won’t fit” makes me wonder why no female emcee used that one…maybe I’m speaking too soon, I’m sure it will come up again by SOME talented female emcee. Anyway, overall, this song is mediocre. Not because it’s done bad or anything, it’s just really REALLY radio. Maybe I’m out of touch with what should be played on the radio but so far, this album seems like it was sculpted for it.
11. Makin’ Love Featuring Ne-Yo; Produced by Jermaine Dupri
Say what you will about JD, but he’s been doing something right…a whole lot of something right for a really long time. I have no idea how he heard “Brokenhearted” by Brandy and found a way to Hip-Hop it up, but he did it. I think this is my favorite song on the album. Ne-Yo is THE male hook singer as far as I’m concerned and he does his thing on this one as he quips “I told her I’ll be there in a minute / she know Imma take it down soon as I get it / you can leave your hair a mess, don’t even get dressed, tonight we makin’ love (x2) / Til’ you tell me that you’ve had enough / Imma slow it down and Imma speed it up / and I will not stop do it to you like a dude that ain’t got no job / I ain’t got nowhere to be so I don’t gotta leave / get the it is in the sheets, Imma eat and go to sleep / then we wake up and repeat / everything you do to me / Imma turn and do to you then Imma black and blue that thing”. Sorry Fab, but Ne-Yo stole this song from you.
12. Last Time Featuring Trey Songz; Produced by Jermaine Dupri
Same theme I’ve mentioned before, not a bad thing, just noticeable. This one is ready for airplay as them Ocean Boys give Fab something with a real grown man feel to it even though the story is about a man being torn from the street game and the homelife. I can respect this one as an older gent that still loves Hip-Hop….er….Hip n B….er….well, yeah.
13. Pachanga Produced by Sid V for “Duo Live”
Um…this song doesn’t fit on the album at ALL. The album is already pretty scattered but this one just seems out of left field. I have NO idea what he’s talking about on this one but it sounds like regular changes in life. How you transition from one station in life to another and the things around you change as well, friends, love interest, etc. But the way he’s calling these changes “Pachanga’s” is annoying as shit. Now granted, I may have gotten this one ALL WRONG but one think I think I have right….SKIP.
14. Lullaby Produced by The Alchemist (Scratches by Just Blaze)
I’m diggin’ Loso’s flow on this one. “Do me a solid / Y’all stay in pocket like wallets / cause you can’t see me, closed eyelids / nighty night / I’m with a model chic Tyra thick Heidi’s height body suits body tight”. The track is different from the rest of the album, and although it doesn’t really fit the album either, this is one of it’s strongest songs (hook notwithstanding) especially considering that he’s rolling solo this time.
15. Stay Featuring Marsha Ambrosius; Produced by Syience
I saw this collab and after hearing her mixtape, I wasn’t completely sure what was going to happen here, but as SOON as I hear the intro, I’m sold. The track takes simple piano play and builds into something that is quite nice. Marsha, who is one of the better and more distinguishable vocalists out there, murders the song and like Ne-Yo earlier on the album, simply steals this one from Fab. I think she’s so good, I’d stay away from her on my songs, she will “Renegade” you for sure. CLOSE second for favorite song on the album. I don’t want this one to end at all.
16. I Miss My Love Produced by Sean C & L.V.
Fab does songs like this that make me wonder why he bothers having other folks on his album. This one is pretty damn dope and proves, yet again, that he is more than capable to hold his own with producers we don’t know on songs with no cameos. His story telling on this one takes the drivers seat as lyrically dances to a MJ influenced beat boasting some angelic singing throughout most of the track. I’m really impressed with this one and feel like he should have gone this route more with the album, solo and storytelling.
As with most artists today, we always say “remember when” when we reference their newer work. We talk about when Fab first hit the scene and would spell his name at nauseum and back to when we could set our watches to a Lil’ Mo (drool) appearance on the track. At the same time, we always cry about artists not showing growth and evolving. We can’t have it both ways I guess. However, one thing that should be constant no matter what you do is the consistency. This album is a bit scrambled. There are a lot of R&B, radio ready songs on here, followed by some street songs that are in turn followed by songs that leave you scratching your head. It’s almost like he had 3 different albums and picked some songs from each to make this album, and that doesn’t necessarily mean he picked the best songs from those 3 albums to make this one. Let’s not forget the inference to Carlito’s Way via the title but no carrying out of the concept at all on the album. I’m left confused at the end of this album…and that’s after a lot of spins. If this is Loso’s Way, he has already done waaay better than this last offering.
nappyPicks: “Salute”, “Makin’ Love”, “Last Time”, “Stay”, & “I Miss My Love”