After compiling a slew of impressive freestyles as part of his weekly Friday Night Freestyles series with DJ Clue, Fabolous just dropped a mixtape full of the recent lyrical annihilations. Adorning the cover with imagery from the 1989 film Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, Fab uses the artwork as some pretty direct symbolism to point out the fact that he’s murdering the beats of some of hip-hop's most esteemed tracks; Mobb Deep’s “Quiet Storm,” Puff Daddy’s “Been Around The World” and Nas’ “Black Girl Lost” all were subjected to Fab's new vein of creativity.

Amidst the raw old school feel of the first track it becomes clear that this isn't the tape for people looking for radio club hits; instead Fab hops in a time machine and takes it back to 1998 when he freestyled on the NYC airwaves for the first time. Recording an updated version of the lyrics he spat live that appeared on DJ Clue’s radio show alongside Noreaga nearly two decades ago, you realize that this effort will be taken to the upper echelon. The intro track goes in over The LOX, Lil Kim and DMX’s 1998 hit “Money, Power & Respect” and by track two, when Dr. Dre’s “Bitches Ain’t Shit” beat begins bumping through the speakers, Fab's top-tier beat selection proves itself over again.

Very little production effort, aside from his bars, was put in by Fabolous, as all the tracks are hip-hop classics from the production boards of Dr. Dre, Puff Daddy, Havoc, DJ Premier and Swizz Beatz. With all the brilliant production work, it’s hard to tell which track towers above the others, as Fab’s lyrics do nothing but attribute to the intellectual artistry of each record.

But Noreaga’s feature is the most regarded contribution on the mixtape, as the actual connection to the foundation of Fabolous’ career comes full circle. The fact that the two connected again to recreate what many regard as the freestyle that put Fab on the map makes the song the obvious standout of the compilation. Jadakiss, Joe Budden and Paul Cain are also featured on Friday Night Freestyles, each adding a value addition to the throwback-themed effort. A surprise verse from Stack Bundles also appears on “Sound Bwoy Buriell Freestyle,” an ode to not only Bundles but Chinx and Pimp C as well.

Fabolous has some top-notch rapping skills; few have ever doubted that. Although he manages to again and again churn out singles that cater to today’s Top 40, this tape reminds people of the chameleon the MC can be. Sometimes reaching into the past can be the fresh air that's needed to revive some inspiration. But some fresh, new music from Fab would go a lot further towards bolstering his legacy. —Miranda J

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