Brooklyn is known for producing some of hip-hop’s most prized MCs. From Big Daddy Kane to Jay-Z, from Notorious B.I.G. to Mos Def, this borough obviously has a knack for rearing talent. As of late, Fabolous has emerged as the torch bearer for the future Brooklyn MC. From his debut album Ghetto Fabolous in 2001, Fab has proven that not only does he have an above average flow, but he has the bravado to match. Now after two follow up solo albums and a label change, the F-A-B-O returns with the somewhat disappointing From Nothin’ to Somethin’.
Unfortunately, this album has its share of low points. For one, thirteen out of fifteen songs have a guest appearance, some where Fabolous is outshined by the featured artist (most notably, Jay-Z on “Brooklyn” and Pusha-T of the Clipse on “Jokes on You”). At times, this tends to take away from the continuity of the album and the artist himself. Secondly, Fabolous has always been known for his wittiness and skillful punch lines. On this record though, it seems that he does not believe that and feels like he has to prove it, which at times can make his words sound forced as exemplified in lines like “…oops I mean Phantom, my words got tangled man/ But this tiger striped watch will make your bitch a Bengal’s fanâ€¦” Lastly, the vast majority of songs on this album lack creativity and variety. Fabolous is in a complacent state as he rhymes about the jewels, cars, money, and giving a girl the world. It is these references that give this album a sense of redundancy.
The brighter spots on the album don’t come until the last three songs. On “Jokes on You”, Fabolous and Pusha-T skillfully display their verbal wizardry mainly through clever, comedic references, while the Lil’ Mo assisted “What Should I Do” finds Fabolous stepping out of his complacent state to address some of the issues that his fans are dealing with as he reads their letters of trials and tribulations. And on the posse cut “This is Family” (featuring Ransom, Freck Billionaire, Red CafÃ©, Joe Budden, and Paul Cain) each MC holds his own as they basically compete to outperform the previous MC through ingenious word play.
What makes the album disappointing is that the listener knows that Fabolous is a great artist who has the talent to put together an LP better than this one. It seems as if he has found a successful format of rhyming about the same old monotonous topics and he is content on staying there. This is evident by unwillingness to change his approach to making albums, especially with this one. Every great artist at one time or another has to come out of their shell and take a chance at greatness. Fabolous seems to be timid at making that step and satisfied with being just the “above par” MC that everyone knows he is already. But maybe it is time for Fabolous to show the world that he has more to offer than gaudy jewelry and expensive living, but topic diversity and substance as well.
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