There are too many "Kings" in Hip-Hop. While just about every other artist in the rap game has tried to claim the title, most of them don't seem to realize that there is someone who will rightfully inherit the throne. It is not something you claim, it is something that is given to you. And when the time comes, the prince will already be entitled to it. Real Talk, the third album from Fabolous-the prince of New York, pulls him one step closer to his reign. With production from The Neptunes, Just Blaze, Scott Storch and more, it's his most complete album to date. "I feel this is my best album. It is much more versatile than my first two albums," he says of his latest release. Fab has met commercial success with both his debut Ghetto Fabolous and sophomore LP Street Dreams, but on this go round, he has another agenda (not that another platinum album wouldn't be appreciated though). "I'm out for my respect. I want to try to wake the people up this time. My last two records shaped this mold of me as the rapper for the ladies. I don't want to be looked at for just that. I want to be respected lyrically." Fab earned that lyrical respect early on when he started rhyming back in high school. He quickly earned a reputation in and around the streets of Brooklyn as the one to watch for. In 1998, he hooked up with the management team of Cheo and Webb, who circulated his demo of freestyles throughout the industry. Once DJ Clue heard the skills, he immediately signed Fabolous-then called Sport-to his Desert Storm imprint. With Clue at the top of the mixtape game, it wasn't long before everyone knew of the chipped-tooth MC. When his freestyles started bubbling on Clue's popular mixtapes, the industry quickly took notice. Not too long after, he spit a classic verse on Lil' Mo's "Superwoman" record, and the rest was history.
While most fans and MCs have given it up to Fabolous for his witty punchlines and solid metaphors, the lead-off single from his third album, "Breathe" finds Fab's skills truly being mastered in a song for the first time. He sticks to the concept throughout, building lyrical momentum with each line as he constantly refers back to the act of breathing-something that has now figuratively become a problem for anyone who Fab comes in contact with. Produced by Just Blaze, the song is structurally one of the most complex songs Hip-Hop has seen in years, and is Fabolous's fastest growing record ever.
Though this album is his third (fourth, if you count the official mixtape), Real Talk is Fab's official introduction to the game. On songs like "In My Hood," the rapper relates to his fellow Brooklyn-ites by explaining his upbringing in detail. "Round here you never let the beef slide twice / And everybody's raised on four wings and beef fried rice / The mothers' are getting younger today / Got one by the hand, one in the stroller, and one on the way / We don't have role models / But we got them handguns that hold hollows…in my hood." And on "Can You Hear Me," produced by newcomer J.R., Fab's delivers a heartfelt story about a friend who falls victim to the streets. Fab explains, "On this album, I'm relating to the listeners by sharing experiences with people who come from the same places where I'm from. I'm talking about things in my personal life, from my own perspective. I want to bring you in, and let you see my world looking through my eyes."
"Po Po," featuring Nate Dogg on the hook, allows fans to really walk in Fab's shoes. Ironically, the song deals with police harassment, with Fabolous and his brother Paul Cain trading verses of fictional scenarios where they are getting followed by the cops. "Them sirens flashin' on my ass / Should I get ta' pumpin' the brakes or mashin' on the gas / I'm nationally harassed / And it feels like I'm getting punk'd, but I don't see Ashton in the grass."
But ladies, don't fret. Fab's serious content is matched with his specialty, at its best. "I'm having too much fun meeting girls, but I'm still trying to find the right one," says the young rapper. And he's sticking to that with the album's definite smash single, "Baby," featuring Mike Shorey, the first artist on Fab's own Street Family Records. "Baby" samples Michael Jackson's "I Can't Help It," and is sure to melt the hearts of females as Fab proclaims to be looking for that special someone. In addition to the song that will be next year's Valentine's Day anthem, there are more guaranteed hits directed at Fab's high-heel wearing fans. In usual Fab tradition, he pairs up with Lil Mo for "Holla At Somebody Real," and flosses a Jay-Zesque rhyme style on the DJ Khaled-produced "Girls."
For the first time in his career, Fabolous teams up with the Neptunes on two songs, both sure to be club hits. On "Young & Sexy," Fab reverses the grown man trend that has been going on in Hip-Hop for the last year by proclaiming to get his "young man on," while Pharrell chimes in on the hook of "Tit For Tat," a repetitious, hypnotic old school-style beat that will get the bottles poppin at the club. And although he has the star-studded production that has become a staple for artists when putting their albums together, this album has more substance. Fab steps outside the box by doing things like featuring comedian Charlie Murphy on "Church." "My songs are not just catchy songs and good beats. That's easy. I study my own songs and I'm a big critic of myself. I won't be happy until I feel like everything is hot and I'm perfectly satisfied."
As a student of the rap game, Fabolous is out to prove himself amongst rap's elite population. "I like lyrical MCs, where the lyrics are their best gimmick. I came up under Big Daddy Kane, LL, Kool G. Rap, Rakim," he says. His appreciation for the culture and pioneers is vivid throughout the album, as he cleverly reinvents lyrics from 2Pac, Jay-Z, and Snoop Dogg.
As co-owner of his own Street Family entertainment company, he is more than just an artist. His entrepreneurial spirit is what has pushed his career thus far (he has had major endorsement deals with companies such as Reebok). And judging from the sound of Real Talk, Fabolous is continuing on his road to success-while quietly sliding into Hip-Hop's top spot. He sports a cocky confidence ("God was in a good mood on the day he made me") throughout the album, reminiscent of another one of Brooklyn's finest. And so while other artists spend their time fighting to sit on the throne, Fab sits back in his chair, satisfied knowing that his inaugural day will come soon enough.
Name: John Jackson
Age: 26 Birthday: November 18th
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Hobbies: Playing Basketball, Sony PS2
Favorite Foods: Chicken fingers, Shrimp and a fruit plate
Favorite Drinks: Hawaiian Punch, Pepsi
Favorite Candy: Kit Kat or Jolly Ranchers
Maybe it's his sly, laid back style or maybe it's his Hollywood-ready good looks (Rolling Stone), but who knew that when John Jackson chose to call himself Fabolous, the name would define his career? Despite being released on September 11, 2001 (the same day as veteran Jay Z, by the way), Fab's dynamic debut album, Ghetto Fabolous, still managed to make a standout debut at #4 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart, cementing his slot as the year's most successful new solo hip hop artist.
The spark, ignited when Fab killed it on DJ Clue's New York City radio show, quietly and consistently burned throughout 2002 with Fab effortlessly navigating the cluttered hip hop landscape to rack up genre-defying accomplishments. From landing a spot in Rolling Stone's Hot issue, to making Teen People's list of 25 Hottest Stars Under 25, to his inclusion in Paper magazine's Beautiful People issue, Fab became the rapper to have in your corner. From Nelly nabbing Fab to open his uber-successful Nellyville tour, to Reebok scooping Fab up for the hottest sneaker commercial of the year, to EA Sports making Fab an actual character in its NBA Live 2003 video game, Fab wowed fans and industry haters equally.
And amidst this whirlwind of success, Fab has maintained his confident swagger, his uncanny charm, and most importantly, his humility. A year and a half after the release of Ghetto Fabolous, one of Brooklyn, New York's finest MC's is more focused, more serious, and more aware of the many miles he's traveled in only 23 short years. There's millions of kids that want to do what I do, he says, matter-of-factly. Rapping became a profession. That's why I feel it's a street dream.
Hence the name of Fabolous' second offering Street Dreams. It was only 1998, when mixtape king, DJ Clue, had Fabolous spontaneously rhyme live, for millions of people, on Clue's New York City radio show. Before that moment of fate, Fabolous was simply John Jackson, a quiet kid from Brooklyn's Brevoort Houses. But Clue fell in love with Fabolous' slow, hypnotic, and concentrated flow. Next thing Fabolous knew, he was the featured artist on Clue mixtapes, landing a record deal and heading out on the fifty-city Hard Knock Life Tour. And for Christmas 2002? Fab's infamous, trademark sneer appeared on the cover of The Source. This kind of success only happens in dreams. And when they come true, they'll change your life forever. Everybody changes even though they say they won't. You go from being a kid to a grown person, he says. It's a lifestyle change. And you have to be prepared for it.
Street Dreams isn't just about Fabolous' fantasies come true. It's a combination of his experiences and growth between the making of his first album, Ghetto Fabolous, and the creation of gem number two Street Dreams. It's the same kind of music. But there's a little maturity to it now. Places I've been. Things I've done, he explains. With Ghetto Fabolous I was just a person making an album and trying to achieve what I wanted to do. And now that I'm successful, Street Dreams is the album after the success. But in reality, Street Dreams will undoubtedly continue Fabolous' impressive track record.
Unforgettable tracks like the Kanye West produced hit My Life, features Mary J. Blige. Sampling the hook from Mary's debut album What's the 411, the standout track fuses blazing beats with Fab's bold honesty and magically manages to be hardcore and smooth at the same time. The acoustic guitar licks on Bad B*tch help set a laid back tone to Fabolous' recollection of a memorable night with two special women, a joint that reminds you that being charmingly cocky and truthful is a feat that only Fabolous can make seem easy. So Into You, features an appearance by the chart-topping princess Ashanti. The remake of Tamia's hit is soulful enough for the ladies and grimy enough for even the toughest thug. Missy moves Fab to endless wit on the out of control track Sickalicious. And the funny tale on the Trackmasters produced Call Me, tells the story of a fan turned stalker. But all Fabolous will say about the story is, I've had girls do all types of crazy things. Fab also reunites with the always-provocative Lil Mo on Can't Let You Go, a track that also introduces newcomer Mike Shorey. The duo kick-started Fabolous' soaring career with their back-and-forth on Lil Mo's smash hit Superwoman, Part 2, from Mo's debut album, Based On A True Story.
Party tracks like Damn, And This is My Party, are already enjoying regular burn on the FM side. While a subtle message to those that mistakenly think that Fab may have lost his focus comes on the song Change You or Change Me, when he testifies, Why would I change/ I Ain't step out of Superman's booth/ To remind me where I'm from, I look at my own tooth. It's about how people say you changed but in reality they the ones that changed, he says. Like 'Did my success change me or did it change you?' A lot of people change and their perceptions of you changes.
With Street Dreams, Fabolous is a little different. He's older. Wiser. More perceptive. And more aware of what he wants to do and what he needs to do. This time around, Fab knows it's okay to dream and have fun. But he's also learned that after cloud nine clears; you better have your business in mind. I try to motivate street people, make them focus on what they want to do. At a certain point in life, you have to get focused, he says. Before pausing and adding with a smile, And if I'm dreaming, I don't want to wake up.
Fabolous Gets Right With J. Lo, Suits Up For 'Baby'
Rapper changes clothes, readies three videos.
First Fabolous gave his fans a taste of a different musical style with the single "Breathe," and now the smoothed-out Brooklyn mic bandit is showing a different fashion sense with his video for "Baby."
"Everybody was feeling the suit look," Fab said of the clip's fashion display. "It was cool. It was a little different from what people usually see from me. That's what I liked about it the most. Everything with this album was me trying to switch up the looks."
The evolution of Fab is going to continue in the coming weeks, as he has three other videos that will soon be launching. He just shot "Do the Damn Thing" in Atlanta with MC Young Jeezy. And a finished clip for "Tit 4 Tat" ("It's just in a studio with some girls, a few cars. It's more of party scene.") was in the can even before he shot "Baby" (see "Fabolous Asks Ladies To Stop Talking, Start Partying On New Single"). He will also appear in a remix video for Jennifer Lopez's "Get Right." Though that clip was filmed at the same time as the original version of "Get Right," Fab doesn't want you to think he went overboard with his whole "changing looks" move. No afro wigs for him.
"I got some different things," he laughed. "I didn't get nothing outrageous: a bandana wrapped around my head, a shirt somebody made for me. I decided to wear it in the video. It's always a pleasure working with Jennifer Lopez. I think we got a hot record out of it."
Fabolous and J-Lo's ''Rebirth''
Fabolous and Terror Squad's Fat Joe will guest on the next Jennifer Lopez album. Due for release March 1, J-Lo's new set will be called "Rebirth," reports MTV. Fabolous joins the singer-actress-dancer on a remix of "Get Right," while Fat Joe duets with J-Lo on "Hold You Down." J-Lo's husband, Marc Anthony, also sings on the album.
Fabolous is just the right person for the job
By being the right person in the right place at the right time, Fabolous became an overnight superstar in late summer 2001 with his debut single, "I Can't Deny It." Though the young rapper represents Brooklyn and is no doubt representative of the East Coast rap style, he also happens to embody a large dose of the "bling, bling" mentality often associated with the Dirty South style as well as the "gangsta" mentality associated with the West Coast -- the makings of a true crossover artist. And the fact that he's young with poster-boy looks doesn't hurt either. So, in sum, Fabolous followed in the footsteps of other early-2000s overnight sensations like Nelly by representing his hood while also making subtle concessions to the masses. At the time, New York didn't have any ice-sportin', Cristal-poppin', hood-representin' rappers -- at least not since the death of the Notorious B.I.G. and the simultaneous popular demise of Puff Daddy. Fabolous filled this gaping niche perfectly.
DJ Clue certainly knew what he was doing when he made the young rapper the flagship of his start-up label, Desert Storm. Though a no-name at the time, Clue's calculation proved genius. He hired a handful of producers, rappers, and vocalists for Fabolous' debut album, Ghetto Fabolous: Ja Rule, the Neptunes, Lil' Mo, and Timbaland, to name a few. And by teaming Fabolous with Nate Dogg -- who had become a hot commodity in the rap community that summer, virtually omnipresent on the radio with hits like "Area Codes" and "Lay Low" -- Clue had an undeniable hit song to drive the album's initial sales. This song was the perfect crossover hit, merging Fabolous' East Coast image and rhymes with Nate Dogg and producer Rick Rock's West Coast sound -- and interpolating a trademark 2Pac lyric for the hook obviously didn't hurt. As expected, the song became a huge hit, storming up the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and built up ample anticipation for the album, Ghetto Fabolous. AMG
UK-Flava.com had a few minutes with Fabolous...
How did you get the name Fabolous?
I got the name from DJ Clue. When I met him I didn’t have a rap name so he went around telling everyone -- creating a buzz saying I got this hot kid Fabolous which he had got from me spelling the word in one of my raps, I was just saying I was Fabolous not actually saying my names Fabolous.
Personal question, how old are you?
Your first single released (Breathe) from you third album 'Real Talk' is a banger... What other tracks can we expect as single releases?
The next track coming out is called “Baby” featuring Mike Surey.
What input did you have on the soundtrack for the new movie
“Coach Carter” and would you ever be interested in doing some acting?
They actually came to me with the soundtrack, they just wanted me to add to the track, they had some ideas and wanted me to make it sound really hot. I just tried to come up with a hot joint.
I think Needles did the production.
And as for acting...Yeah, i'd love to do some acting, just test the waters out a little bit see if I could pull it off - see if its something up my ally if not ill leave it alone and continue with my first love, music.
You have a label called 'Street Family Entertainment' but don't seem to have many artists signed, would you be interested in signing a UK Hip Hop artist, not a mainstream one more underground?
Im not really big on the UK hiphop scene, I hear stuff that leaks over to America. I do have an artist his names Mike Surey, he’s been on a few of my records in the past and he’s on this new album. We are currently just working with him getting him ready musically, mentally and emotionally, ready to be the next new artist.
Do you know of any UK Hip Hop artists apart from Dizzee Rascal?
He’s probably the only one ive heard of - I don’t really know their names, you just hear, they don't get wide play in America so its hard to get to know, but i've seen Dizzee Rascal on MTV, that’s one name that stuck in my head.
You featured on the track wake up everybody for the voter drive during the presidential election race, do you feel it was your duty as an individual to take part along side, Russell Simmons and others?
Definitely, I wanted to be apart of the wake up campaign. It was trying to alert and tell people to be conscious to the things that are going on in different communities, trying to help communities out in using some big artists showing people that we also care.
In previous interviews you’ve said you were harassed and wrongfully arrested by the police, do you think this Orwellian state (big brother?) is directed at black artists?
I think in this case it was the Hip Hop task force, they wanted to really crack down on Hip Hop, I became one of the artists under their scope for no reason, this is why I filed a suit for being wrongfully arrested for different things.
This so called HipHop police - are they like the FBI of rap, to our knowledge we don’t have this in England?
It’s like a task force really they follow Hip Hop artists, it’s not like the FBI it’s a task force put together under the cops control.
Fab then went onto saying he felt very tired and was ready to go take some rest....
Real Talk from Fabolous
Fabolous feels his latest album, "Real Talk," is also his best. On his official Web site, Fabolous says "I feel this is my best album. It is much more versatile than my first two albums." And "Real Talk" is also more "personal."
With his new release, Fabolous hopes to earn respect for his lyrics and make an impact on listeners by sharing his own experiences. Says the Brooklyn-based rapper, "I'm out for my respect. I want to try to wake the people up this time. My last two records shaped the mode of me as a rapper for the ladies. I don't want to be looked at for just that. I want to be respected lyrically."
Fabolous adds, "I'm relating to the listeners by sharing experiences with people who come from the same places where I'm from. I'm talking about things in my personal life, from my own perspective. I want to bring you in, and let you see my world looking through my eyes."
Fabolous new single ''Tit 4 Tat''
Ladies, if you see Fabolous in the club, here's a word to the wise: "Actions speak louder than words." In fact, you may not need to speak at all, at least that's the message that you'll get from his next single, "Tit 4 Tat."
It's about those girls in the club who talk your ear off when you're just trying to have a good time," said Fab. "Too much talk in the club is never good. You're just there to have a good time, not to be on a talk show. Sometimes, you have to just shove a champagne glass in their face and tell them to have a good time." The Queens, New York, MC will head out to Los Angeles this weekend to shoot the single's accompanying clip, with director Little X at the helm. "We have a lot of good things planned," Fab said of the video. "I don't want to let it out of the bag yet, but it should be real hot."
Next, Fab will team with labelmates T.I., Trick Daddy, Twista and Fat Joe for Atlantic Records' Joint Chiefs concert at New York's Apollo Theater on November 23.
"I'm looking forward to it because I've never been [in] a family-oriented label situation," he said. "We got the Joint Chiefs — me, T.I., Fat Joe, Twista and Trick — and they're comparing it to the old Def Jam days where you had so many artists who were known performing together. It's spearheaded by Lyor Cohen, and he came from that Def Jam era. I'm just happy to be a part of it and contribute in any way I can." Fab also hopes to follow in the footsteps of executives like Cohen with the launch of his Street Family Entertainment label. "We're putting together some situations," said Fab of the label. "The artist we're starting with is Mike Shorey. We're getting him ready emotionally, musically, physically and mentally to be the next big artist."
While most rappers sign other rappers, Fab has stepped out and signed Shorey, an R&B act, as his first artist. "I just went by the talent I found," Fab admitted. "I wasn't looking for just an R&B artist or a rap artist or even a female artist. I was just looking for talent, and he was the first guy to pop up. Of course, I meet different artists everywhere, but I want to [handle] his situation first, and then maybe I can branch out and do other things."
Fabolous speaks out about Drugs and Police Brutality in his album ''Real Talk''
Everyone's favorite speller F-A-B-O-L-O-U-S is back. Hand picked by N.Y.'s underground DJ, DJ Clue, Fabolous a.k.a. "The Kid" from Brooklyn, N.Y. has had success with his previous releases Ghetto Fabolous and Street Dreams. Now he's back with Real Talk.
If nothing else, of course he keeps his cool swaggering tone. But on this album you hear a more mature Fabolous. However, he does address the usual: the want to be a gangster and girls. He also includes a heartfelt tribute, "Can You Hear Me," to a friend lost to violence. Like many rappers, he tests his vocals, harmonizing with the beat. Surprisingly, this time around the production is more diverse, with sounds from the West Coast to the Dirty South, and has something for the grown and sexy, as well as something to dance to.
The first words you hear may sound familiar as Black Ice from Russell Simmon's Def Poetry recites, "Exodus." His husky voice catches your attention while he compares the hip-hop industry to prostitution and slavery. He tells the story of how "the game" steals the dreams of many artists and forces them to compromise their art. Similar to the Young Gunz's "Can't Stop Won't Stop," Fabolous says he "Don't Stop Won't Stop." It's only been a year, but he lets you know he is back and there is no one that can stop his flow or see him. You can't help but to nod your head to the hard snare and bells that give plenty of bang.
In the song "Gangsta," he reasserts his gangster mentality, including bars in reference to drugs. This remake of his original "Gansgta" switches the flow up with a slight resemblance to 50 Cent accompanied by a West Coast, Dr. Dre-style beat. Although Pharrell Williams is the album's renowned producer from the Neptunes, it's hard to tell whether he ghostwrote the verses for "Tit 4 Tat," which he also produced. The catchy hook that sends a message to bourgeois women will make you sing along with it, "do, do, do, do, do."
The radio friendly, "Breathe" already has audiences declaring it as the street anthem. He delivers a breath of fresh air as the hook inspires you to breathe literally. The countdown gives a warning for his opponents to get used to his presence because he is here to stay.
The last place expected for Fabolous to go, church, is also a title on the album. He takes that trip to "Church," featuring Charlie Murphy. He compares his life of flashy jewels, women and lifestyle to church. With this unlikely comparison he offers lessons on rap and a contrast between himself and God. Fabolous does stick to the title of his album and delivers real talk, literally. He creates the balance between his personal experiences in the hood, the ups and downs of the hip-hop music industry, and still gives you something to move to.
Most fans and MC’s have given it up to the Brooklyn native for his witty punch-lines and solid metaphors but this Just Blaze produced track, complete with dramatic rock stadium opus, cascading percussion and pounding keys, finds Fab’s skills truly mastered. He spits fire in his verses, building lyrical momentum with each line as he constantly refers back to the act of breathing. The song is structurally one of the most complex songs Hip-Hop has seen in years, and is Fabolous’s fastest growing single ever.
Already enjoying radio support from the likes of Jo Whiley and Tim Westwood on Radio 1, ‘Breathe’ is play listed at 1Xtra and Kiss FM. The video directed by Erik White (Ludacris, P.Diddy, B2K, Busta Rhymes) has been added to the Box, Kiss and MTV Base.
‘Breathe’ is the first single to be lifted from Fabolous’s forthcoming album REAL TALK out on November 8th through Atlantic Records. Though this album is his third (fourth if you count the official mix-tape) REAL TALK is Fab’s official introduction to the game. On songs like ‘In My Hood’, the rapper relates to his fellow Brooklyn-ites by explaining his upbringing in detail. And on ‘Can You Hear Me’ produced by newcomer J.R, Fab delivers a heartfelt story about a friend who falls victim to the streets.
With production courtesy of The Neptunes, Just Blaze and Scott Storch, it is perhaps his most complete album to date. Fabolous has met commercial success with both his previous albums – STREET DREAMS, which spawned such hits as ‘Can’t Let You Go’and ‘Into You’ featuring the incredible Tamia and GHETTO FABOLOUS, his debut that stormed the US Billboard charts at no.4 and subsequently cemented his slot as 2001’s most successful new solo hip hop artist in America.
The in-demand rapper continues to dazzle fans and wow even the most jaded industry types. His contribution to music by Lumidee, Christina Milian and B2K has taken those records over the edge. His slew of side ventures include Reebox TV Commercials and most recently Fabolous joined label mates Missy Elliott, Nate Dogg, Marques Houston, Brandy and a host of other artists on a US charity record called ‘Wake Up Everybody’. The proceeds will go to America Coming Together (ACT), which works to register and mobilize voters to support progressive candidates at all levels of government. ‘Breathe’ is set for release on November 15th through Atlantic Records.
Common misspellings: "Fabulous", "Fabolus".