Since Nas’ controversial statement in 2006 that hip hop was dead, it would seem that emcees are hellbent on preserving it, mainly by way of the “concept” record. Following in the footsteps of fellow Brooklynite Jay-Z, rapper Fabolous began work on his fifth studio LP, an album based around the gangster flick Carlito’s Way. For years, the stigma that he was becoming hip hop’s newest “ladies’ man” has dogged his footsteps so it remains to be seen whether Loso’s Way will be a return to his gritter roots…
Loso begins his most daring project yet over triumphant production by StreetRunner as he addresses the press with flames, dropping clever gems like “Fuck em all, motherfuck em all / Y’all done turned a Good Guy into a Chucky doll / I woulda been ya friend to the end, bitch”. DJ Khalil continues to show why he’s one of the freshest producers around, supplying Fab on “Imma Do It” as he drops heatrocks, as hungry as he’s ever been before hopping on some boardwork done by premier production team The J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League on “Feel Like I’m Back”.
Fabolous recruits charming newcomer Keri Hilson for assistance over the grandiose “Everything, Everyday, Everywhere”, arguably the summer’s next surefire hit. The multi-talented Ryan Leslie contributes to Loso’s Wayvia the piano-driven “The Fabolous Life” before Fabolous slows the album down for the ladies. Jermaine Durpi provides soothing production for the (now) standard ladies tracks “Makin’ Love” and “Last Time”, the former featuring frequent Fab collaborator Ne-Yo (begging to wonder whether their rumored collaboration album will ever come into fruition) and the latter featuring arguably R&B’s premier hook man Trey Songz.
Sid V (of Duo Live) teams up with Fabolous for easily the album’s standout cut, the eeiry “Pachanga” as Fabolous goes in over the fine parallel line between a friend and an enemy and how easily the lines can be blurred and change. The menacing “Lullaby” showcases a grittier Fabolous, one arguably not seen since 2004’s “Breathe”, with excellent scratches of “Rock-a-bye, Baby” (of New Jack Cityfame) infused by Just Blaze into Alchemist’s concentrated soundscape. Neo-soul songbird Marsha Ambrosius makes a key guest appearance on “Stay” as Fabolous gets introspective, touching on personal memories of his father walking out on him and how he recently became a father himself and missed out on significant moments in his son’s early life before concluding his latest disc with the haunting narrative “I Miss My Love”.
While originally slated to be a concept record influenced by famed flick Carlito’s Way, Loso’s Way fails in the same vein as Jay-Z’s American Gangster: it’s more of a Fabolous album then it is a concept record (as the concept only remotely appears during the final couple of records). Fabolous incorporates a variety of producers and production is excellent throughout, but the massive amount of guests combined with Fabolous’ reliance on ladies-oriented tracks weighs this “R&B” album down in the long run. While his attempt to craft a successful concept album fails, his ability to appeal to all audiences makes Loso’s Way a success and quite possibly his best opus since his debut on the scene.
4 spins (out of 5)