I have one question: what the eff is up with Fabolous? I’ve been thinking about that dude all week.

Now, I don’t know John Jackson. Never met him. Never interviewed him. Never even seen his live show. But I’ll admit I have high hopes for the rapper. Real Talk was my album for the longest time. (How did that one not go platinum?) I felt his flow. I felt his wordplay. I felt the beats he picked. “Breathe” was fire. “Can You Hear Me” was chillingly poignant. “Gangsta” had some hilarious punch lines. “Ghetto” was a slept-on banger. “It’s All Right” was one of the better Sean Paul rap collabos. “Baby” was a for-the-ladies joint that actually catered to the ladies. (As opposed to running bullshit game over a beat.)

But it was more than all that. For whatever reason, it’s been a personal album for me. Real Talk was released on my birthday in 2004, and I’ve been bumping it pretty steady ever since. I took it with me when I was traveling on a grant to do research for my book on global hip-hop. [1] It was forever in my headphones. On a long-ass international flight, eyes burning, feeling drugged. On a plastic bench in Heathrow airport in London, on a nine hour layover, slumped over, snatching at sleep. On the train in Tokyo, drinking lemon iced tea and watching all the stylish Japanese girls feverishly text messaging each other. On a rusted yellow bus climbing through the mountains in Caracas, the air thick with humidity, armed soldiers guarding the door. On the roof deck of my sublet on the Upper West Side in Manhattan, chilling, painting my nails. Six months later, on Amsterdam Ave, bundled in a parka, walking through the snow. In a cab speeding through Queens, headed for JFK. In my hotel room in Johannesburg, eating a club sandwich from room service. In Toronto, the red and orange leaves drifting into the street.

I got to know that album real, real well. It’s funny how some records just move you like that.

I’ve been waiting on the follow-up to Real Talk for some time, trying to figure out what’s going on with Fab. First, dude dropped out of sight. Next, he resurfaced with that bizarre MySpace diss track—beefing with music nerds, of all things. Then, this week, he messed around and got himself shot.

As everyone knows, Fab took a bullet in the leg coming out of Justin’s in New York early Tuesday, and wound up with multiple gun charges when police searched his vehicle. Initially, Fab’s people said the shooting arose from jealousy. But now it looks like one of his men may have chain-snatched Boston Celtic Sebastian Telfair. It could be that Fab—like many other rappers—stayed loyal to some knuckleheads he grew up with and they’ve gone and got him in trouble. (Notorious C.O.P. Derrick Parker hinted in his book that Fab was linked back in the day to the BK stick-up crew The Commission.)

Whatever the reason, it always sucks to see one of your favorite rappers shot, arrested, and generally caught up in a whole lot of drama. Hopefully Loso will pull through all this and make another Real Talk. [2]


[1] I didn’t have an i-Pod then, so I took this raggedy discman and a case with like twenty CDs. I got so bored with some of those albums.