Fabolous Remembers Prodigy’s Impact on Hip-Hop, Names Eminem and Nas as Dream Collaborations
There's no question that Fabolous is an icon in his home borough of Brooklyn, but he's also become a staple veteran in hip-hop culture over the past decade and beyond. The New York native has had a busy month full of rewards, as the lyrical MC was not only honored with the key to the borough earlier this month, but he was also named as one of JAY-Z's top inspirations in a series of his recent tweets.
Furthering his love for his city, Fab was invited to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Cyclone roller coaster at Luna Park in Coney Island, Brooklyn this past Sunday (June 25), where he headlined a stellar performance for a packed crowd. With some fans lining up hours before the Soul Tape rapper was slated to hit the stage, it's clear Fab's influence is more prevalent than ever.
XXL got a chance to speak with Fabolous following the performance, where he remembered Prodigy of Mobb Deep, who passed away last week due to sickle cell complications. Recalling him as another iconic New York MC that has impacted his love for hip-hop culture, Fab even reveals that the two had plans to work together before his heartbreaking death.
After revealing his hopes to collaborate with Eminem and Nas, the "Stacks Up" rapper also discusses his growth, following the 10th anniversary of Fab's 2007 album, From Nothin' to Somethin'.
Check out our full interview Fabolous below.
XXL: As a Brooklyn native, how does it feel to come back and perform at Luna Park for the Cyclone’s 90th anniversary?
It’s dope to be able to come here and do that because this is a place I used to come to as a kid. It’s like coming full circle now. Now, being here performing, and performing for other kids, it’s just still amazing to me that I’m in the same place that I grew up in. I’m returning, and now I’m kind of motivating other kids. It’s really dope.
You’re categorized as an iconic New York MC, but you’re also now solidified as a Brooklyn legend here in the borough. What was your initial reaction to finding out you would be receiving the key to Brooklyn?
It meant a lot to me since I grew up here. Even the people I know and their walk of life, I understand it. It’s firsthand to me. To go back there and be honored, and see people I know…it was good to see that. It’s a strong inspiration and motivation to people who know you come from the same background as them. So me getting the key, and being able to show that for them, of course it means a lot to me, but it means so much more to me to be able to show people what’s possible and that it can be done.
Speaking of New York MCs, the sudden passing of Prodigy has been tough on hip-hop. How has his legacy impacted you?
I grew up on his music. I made an Instagram post where I stated that I used to listen to Mobb Deep’s The Infamous album every morning going to school. He definitely impacted my love for hip-hop. He’s one of the artists that put a brick in that building. I met P and seen him throughout travels, and he was always a respectful dude.
Last time I actually saw him and had a conversation with him was when we were both taking our sons to see Hamilton. At the end of it, I stayed because they had a meet-and-greet with the cast. P was there with his son. He might have been a little out of their time because they weren’t really acknowledging him and saying he couldn’t come back to meet the cast too. I was just like, “Man, y’all know who that is? That’s Prodigy. That’s a legend, man.” I told them they gotta let him come up.
He didn’t always get the flowers while he could still smell them.
Yeah. The crazy part is is that it’s like that a lot. That energy or knowing how much people love you doesn’t always happen until it’s after. When people don’t have you anymore, it’s kind of like that. I think overall, at shows, you see the love. You see his fans in the streets sometimes showing love. You don’t always have that until you’re gone, and you can’t see it when you’re gone.
It’s sad to say, but at the same time, I didn’t have a deep relationship with him, but he meant a lot to my hip-hop knowledge and what groomed me as far as what I grew up listening to. What you grow up listening to makes the kind of person that you are. Those people are helping shape who you are. It’s a sad thing, but it’s great that people are stepping up and showing a lot of love.
Like you said, I never seen that much admiration for him while he was here. Even down to myself. I had planned to go to a Mobb Deep show. Like last year I went to a party with Ghostface and all the acts that I grew up listening to. I wanted to go to one of their shows. So when he died, it kind of hurt and I felt like, “Damn, I didn’t get to go to the show.” I was looking at the tour they were on, and I wanted to go and just watch as a fan.
Hov recently thanked you and showed you love in his Twitter list of artists that impacted his career. You guys are both Brooklyn veterans and had similar timelines with success in the rap game. How does it feel to get that recognition?
I really respect Hov’s drive, as well as his whole career and what he’s done for the culture. A nod from Hov is always a great thing. For the last few years, I’ve had a close, personal relationship with him, just being able to kick it. Of course it’s an honor, but at the same time, it’s such another humbling thing for him too, because he was receiving an award himself. He didn’t have to mention anybody who inspired him. It was his moment.
So it was dope that he shouted me out that I inspire him as well. Sometimes, that’s what it is. In music, if somebody makes a good song, you want to be in that category and make the good songs too. It may not even be a competition thing, it’s just a thing to keep your skills up type of thing.
The 10th anniversary of your From Nothin’ to Somethin' album just passed a couple weeks back. That seemed like a very transitional album for you, proving you could keep up with hip-hop’s sound evolution, which is rare for most veteran artists. How do you feel you’ve grown since then as an artist?
I’ve just grown as a person. I think that’s what helped me grow as an artist. I’ve been introduced and have experienced more stuff, more things, and traveled more places. It broadens everything. If you’re not evolving as a person, or growing as a person, you’re not going to be able to keep up with the world in general. At that point in 2007, I was transitioning from coming in in the late '90s and putting my first album out in the very early 2000s.
Then past the midpoint of the 2000s, it was like, “Is he still going to be able to continue on?” Music changes a lot too every couple of years, and you have to adapt if you want to stick around. Or you can lead the way for a new sound, or try a new sound. I try different things. Sometimes your older fans don’t want you to try. They want you to stay in the same box of whatever you were doing in 2003, but that’s not going to help anybody. That’s not going to help music. Everybody has to progress. If you want to be nostalgic and hold onto that, you can buy an old album. I still listen to old '90s stuff sometimes. I love the '90s, but I can’t tell somebody to live like the '90s in 2017. Everything’s changed. It’s a very changing game, man. I try to adapt and evolve.
Who have you been in the studio with recently?
Well, I just got off tour, so I haven’t been in the studio with actual people yet.
Do you have a dream collaboration?
I think it would be to collaborate with Eminem and maybe Nas. Not the same song, but I would love to collaborate with them. Those are the only two people right now. I’ve pretty much collaborated with almost everybody except for a lot of the new generation. But those are just my dream collabs. Their lyricism and growing up with their music as well…I’m not even a forcer. I’ve had this thought for years, but if I don’t have the right song, I’ll have to wait until the time comes. I gotta hurry up though.
Even like the Prodigy thing, I was like, Man, you can’t take advantage of time. Prodigy actually sent me a song to do, but he said he hadn’t finished it. He sent me what the start of it was. I said, “Alright, I like it. It sounds cool. When you’re ready, let’s go.” But we never got to finish it. It might be dope to revisit it. I don’t know if it’s finished enough to his liking, you know what I mean? But maybe it would be cool for people to hear something new from him before [he passed].
See 20 Hip-Hop Albums Turning 10 in 2017