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REVIEW: Fabolous, Loso’s Way

FABOLOUS
Loso’s Way

(Desert Storm/Def Jam)

Let’s be clear: Loso’s Way isn’t a literal retelling of 1993’s Carlito’s Way. You remember the Al Pacino flick, which spawned many rap skits, about a reformed gangster trying to resist the allure of the streets? Well, Fabolous’s fifth studio album isn’t that. Not exactly.

What fans can expect is the same content that made the Brooklyn MC a platinum-selling artist and radio mainstay, not a project channeling the warped mind of a convicted felon. Instead, Fab sticks to what works: sugary tracks that feature R&B acts, such as Ryan Leslie, Jeremih and Ne-Yo. At times these catchy, formulaic ditties do manage to touch on the film’s themes, but they do not overly commit. That said, Fab wins with the Trey Songz–assisted “Last Time.” On it, he reassures his wifey that he is done with the hood, and by the time the third verse rolls around, Loso draws direct inspiration from the movie, as he lays dying in his love’s arms, spitting, “Sorry, baby girl, I tried the best I could/If I can’t be in the streets, I guess heaven’s just as good.” The J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League–helmed “Feel Like I’m Back” treads similar ground and has Fab on the victorious end of a federal case, much like the fictional Carlito Brigante.

Cinematic scenes aside, it is Fab’s masterful punch lines that remain his calling card. Lines like “your highest title, numero uno, I’m not that lil’ pregnant White girl, but Juno” spice up the muted horns and military drumroll of “Salute,” featuring Lil Wayne. And the opening line of “The Way ‘Intro’” (“Muthafuck ’em all/Y’all done turned a good guy into a Chucky doll”) sets off what is arguably the album’s most lyrical selection. When the one-liners are exhausted, F-A-B-O then ventures out of his comfort zone and reveals his other, less-celebrated lyrical abilities. On “I Miss My Love,” Fab plays the role of storyteller, for fantastic results, and whips up a seedy tale of mistrust over Sean C and LV’s haunting production.

The album’s most surprising moment comes as the usually guarded MC pours his heart out on the standout “Stay,” featuring Marsha Ambrosius. Over Syience’s angelic production, Loso stands as a proud father gushing over his newborn son, while, at the same time, chastising his absentee dad. The lyrics are powerful, as the rapper scoffs, “Now that’s stuntin’ like your daddy/’Cause it’s crazy when you want to be nothing like your daddy,” before triumphantly proclaiming, “This year I became a father, and I’ma die being one.” The soulful “Pachanga” is another gem, this one about betrayal. While the bars remain powerful (“I mean, every friendship has its differences/But these young bucks remind me of Fif and his”), it is ultimately Loso’s passionate delivery that gives the song its kick.

Sadly, Fabolous couldn’t provide more introspective moments like these while still satisfying his need for radio spins. The catchy lead single, “Throw It in the Bag,” featuring The-Dream, does little to bolster the disc’s loosely weaved storyline, and the threatening “Imma Do It” suffers from a grating hook, courtesy of newcomer Kobe. Even his effort with Keri Hilson (“Everything, Everyday, Everywhere”) falls a bit short in comparison to past duets with the likes of Lil’ Mo and Tamia. Similarly, the lyrical free-for-all “There He Go,” featuring Red Café, Paul Cain and Freck Billionaire lacks the bite of Fab’s more celebrated posse cuts like the “Keepin’ It Gangsta” (Remix) and 2007’s “This is Family.”

The truth is that the line between R&B and hip-hop is a thin one, and when it comes to walking it, there is still no one better than Fab. Much like the fictional Carlito’s battle between the drug game and the straight and narrow is the rhyme slinger’s duel with street-bred bangers and pop hits. It may not be the best of both worlds, but, unlike Carlito, at least this gangster lives to see another day. And we’re all better off for it. —Sean A. Malcolm

  • http://Pierzy11@gmail.com Pierzy

    Like most people, I love Fab on the mixtapes but his albums have a few too many songs for the ladies for my taste.

    The dude definitely has skills though…

  • SOUTHSIDE A-TOWN

    Intro, Feel Like I’m Back, My Time, Salute, & There He Go are the only trax i fuck with on this album. 3/5 stars, ya’ll rating was on point.

  • BeerGangsta

    Crussing music. Fab stay on top of his game. Stay out all that dum beef shit. Let’s see how many CDS will he sell this week.

  • Casey

    Yo Pierzy, how re you first on every post? Are you ever NOT on the internet?

    • http://Pierzy11@gmail.com Pierzy

      What up Casey…

      I’m on the ‘net all day at the office for my job so as I’m doing my daily finance grind, I have xxlmag.com opened and all I do is check it regularly.

      At night, I’m not on the ‘net nearly as much [especially when I'm in class] and after I finish my MBA and get a new position, I’ll have to relinquish my title as fastest commenter on XXL! Ha.

  • Young Marty Mcfly

    Is XXL serious, an L????? I think u might wanna go listen to the lyrics on this album. I thought fab killed it!! The only thing that this album needed was the songs from the loso’s way movie ( bang bang, welcome to my workplace and toast to the good life and throw it in the bag remix.) Only tracks i wasnt feeling was feel like i’m back, the fabolous life, throw it in the bag.

  • http://paperstacktv.blogspot.com who u wit

    Fab album is crazy. i like the fact he gives you both sides of the coin…that what life is anyway….how could u not feel any song he has about a chick when its from a male point of view?

  • LALALA

    1. This is rap not hip-hop
    2. The damn album is like a promotional tape for the word n**ga
    3. This is just a product of the industry and a way to make you fools waste your money.
    4. Funny punch lineS and nice flow. (THERE ARE A PLETHORA OF EMCEES AND RAPPERS WHO CAN DO WHAT FAB DID)

    SIMPLY GARBACCCHEEE

    • GregSIDE

      Are u fucking serious?! WTF do u consider real HIP-HOP?

  • real name, no gimmicks

    Yeah I agree with McFly, how can you give this album an L when you say it only has 4 bad tracks out of 16. Thats a XL off top and considering todays climate could be deemed classic. Fab showed tremoundous growth on this album from getting more personal (Stay), showing off his story telling skills (Miss My Love), and a song that most would deem as a chick song is really a disguised as a song bout the streets (Last Time). If wasnt for the song with keri hilson and red cafe this would album fit the carlito’s way theme perfectly. This album is most def one of the best of the year and easily an XL.

  • http://www.myspace.com/sthamogul S Tha Mogul

    I don’t get how the review is mainly positive and full of praise but y’all give it a L. XXL you have failed with this review because this is one of the best albums of the year.

  • Jesus Martinez

    I was hopin this album wouldn’t be as pop/R&B as his others but I couldn’t be more wrong. I’m real dissapointed at the money I wasted on it.

    Plus, why do all rappers say they’re gonna do a concept album and abondon the idea after 1 or 2 tracks?

  • http://myspace.com/kidpistol Kid Pistol

    Ima have to disagree with this rating after debate. I would have barely notched it up to the XL. It’s a solid album. :)

  • ChiTown

    I wouldve bumped the rating up to XL cuz the album was pretty solid. That lullaby track went hard as hell

  • grandma11

    this doesnt make any sense! you pointed out half of the albums tracks as lyrical, or having good theme and punchlines, but you diss and criticize the singles. I believe you pointed out that he has enough solid songs to proclaim it a “themed” album, and that should warrant a good rating. You can’t judge a CD and say its bad because of its my time or throw it in the bag, because that’s what sells the album! i mean i agree this isnt classic material, and i’d say its somewhere between a L and XL, but its crazy for you to talk but the artist on your cover and praise the album, and then give it a “bad” rating. im just saying =/

  • douglas

    An L? A F***in L? Fab’s Album Should Be At Least a XL! Get Ya S**t Right XXL!

  • 80s_Baby

    This is crazy…an “L???” this is clearly the best album of the year.. and maybe LOSO’s best album of his career. His Debut album was that fire, but this is too.. I have not listened to anything else since I got this…straight thru..this is a CLASSIC!!!!!!! This has moved into my Top Ten realy quickly…He may have the best Intro since Volume 1!

  • E

    BUGGIN’! This album is damn near classic..if not a classic! This is definitely not just an “L”

  • ff1one@yahoo.com

    this album don’t deserve a L. Rappers and/or Hip ho emcees gotta make money too. I could see if fab sold out to make money, but he is just making music for the people who buy it. he can do whateva on a mixtape that is free for the public. However, this dude has a duty to make a successful album that will sell. Real hip hop heads don’t buy it.