Fabolous - Loso’s Way

Posted July 28, 2009
Tags: Fabolous,

Money, power and respect are the key to life, and most men die trying to get that key....

Loso's Way Album Review

Money, power and respect are the key to life, and most men die trying to get that key. Money’s the easy part; it can be earned, or stolen, or just lucked into. Power can simply be taken, by force if necessary. But respect, respect can only be given. That’s why it’s such a rare commodity, and after selling over three million albums it’s apparently the only commodity Fabolous feels he’s lacking. It’s easy to see why. Hip-hop has always been unsure about what to make of Fabolous. As a rapper his wordplay is almost unparalleled, the man’s a punchline machine, but he’s always been too polished for the lyrical heads. Despite a slew of mainstream hits he’s too conceptual for the teenage girl set, and he’s a little too pop for the street soldiers (despite actually getting shot). Is Fabolous a gifted lyricist with a knack for making radio hits, or a pretty boy masquerading as an elite rapper? Hip-Hop’s been asking that question for almost a decade now.

It’s no wonder then that Fab rides into his fifth album, the inconsistent but often dope Loso’s Way, with a noticeable chip on his shoulder. Unfortunately, Fab fails to channel his anger on Loso’s Way, allowing it to spray haphazardly or ebb and flow. For example, Loso’s Way was supposed to be a concept album mirroring the seminal gangster flick Carlito’s Way (like Jay's American Gangster), but Loso’s Way is ultimately a concept album only to the extent that it’s an album, and the concept is songs featuring Fabolous. That failure of focus and cohesion is indicative of the album as a whole: when Fabolous is fully invested there aren’t many better, but he’s on cruise control too often to be truly great.

The first half of the album is a testimony to this inconsistency, starting with the lead single My Time. My Time’s quasi-inspirational hook would typically be done by either Akon or T-Pain, but here the birthday boy himself Jeremih takes up the call, mistakenly going down the auto-tune route in the process . It’s not a bad cut, but you could picture almost any rapper on My Time, and that’s never a good sign. I feel the same way about the bouncing Listen!: the production never really grabs you, Keri Hilson does a perfectly decent job, and while Fabolous gets in a few good lines, he sounds strangely uninterested. Even the Lil Wayne collabo, the militaristic Salute, comes off a little flat. It’s not bad enough to hate, not good to enough to love, it just…is.

No Fabolous album would be complete without some tracks for the ladies, and Loso’s Way delivers capably. The album’s two biggest ladies’ jams, and potential hits, are both reunions of sorts, starting with The-Dream’s work on Throw It In The Bag. The record won’t go down as one of The-Dreams best, it wouldn’t have made it onto Love vs. Money, but the brightly bouncing beat is the perfect contrast to Fabo’s slow flow, a technique he’s been using since Can’t Let You Go to enormous success. Much better is the baby-maker Makin Love, a burner of a track that Fabolous sets up beautifully and Ne-Yo knocks out of the park, resulting in the album’s surest bet. Even the grittier Last Time is a Killer, thanks in no small part to a dynamic appearance from Trey Songz. Loso has always had a way with the ladies, and Loso’s Way is no different. (Now if we could only make that Lil’ Mo reunion happen.)

If that’s all Loso’s Way was this review would be a wrap and we'd move on, but at times Fabolous stops cloaking himself in Louis Vitton-coated swagger and reveals himself to be an enormously talented artist. After one listen Stay became my favorite Fabolous song of all time: Fabolous tells the story of his childhood and newfound fatherhood with gripping skill and honesty, and Marsha Ambrosius absolutely kills the vocals. It’s an almost flawless track. In a similar vein is the soulful confessional Pachanga, and the epic I Miss My Love. In other words, if the entire album was as dope as the last five tracks, we’d be talking about a classic. Unfortunately that leaves us at the same place we started, unsure if Fabolous is an elite rapper who sometimes gets lazy, or a decent rapper who occasionally overachieves. Loso’s Way won’t answer any questions, but it will bring Fabolous just a little but closer to the one thing he really wants. Money, power, and……

DJBooth Rating - 3.5 Spins

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Posted July 28, 2009
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