The mid-nineties saw Hip-Hop’s infatuation with gangster movies at an enormous peak. The late, great Notorious B.I.G. adopted his moniker from Christopher Walken’s character in King Of New York and revered storytellers like Raekwon and Kool G Rap saw their works heavily inspired by Italian families, much like the ones in Goodfellas. And who could forget Jay-Z’s various Pain in Da Ass interludes who most recently, revamped the trend with his last album American Gangster, one that mirrored the life of Frank Lucas to that of his own.
Consider Fabolous an adherent to such rich history for he’s chosen to branch out and do some role-playing of his own. Inspired by the critically acclaimed Carlito’s Way so to speak, Fab’s completely poised to take matters into his own hands for his fifth outing, Loso’s Way.
For starters, Fabolous has never been much of an album-oriented artist; singles and punchlines have been his bread and butter throughout the course of his career. However, Loso’s Way does inch its way to a focused congruity, especially in the domain of personality — an area Fab has been known to visibly lack. Lush instrumentation from producer Scyience’s keyboard and Marsha Ambrosius’ chorus cultivate “Stay,” a heartfelt compare and contrast of Fabolous’ relationship with his father and his own son. Compassion aside, it’s annoyance that dominates the genuine emotion overall. Both “The Way (Intro)” and blaring “Imma Do It” come with stern disclaimers of anger as he quips on the latter “I can hold my head high and die/or live and duck/my attitude is celibate/I don’t give a fuck.”
Unsurprisingly though, it’s Fabolous’ aforestated strengths that truely hold the album together. The ability to make music that’s able to find a home at radio stations with the greatest of ease. Ryan Leslie in particular, builds on the pair’s previous chemistry and lends over a couple of hits. The Keri Hilson-assisted “Everything, Everyday, Everywhere” picks up the pace for dance floor fever while “The Fabolous Life” gracefully wisks through looping piano chords as Fab delivers luxurious lyrics such as “Everything is ‘Boss’ like a Rick ab/lib, take it to the house like it’s Trick/Dad, crib…” to add some flavor to the LP. Predictable producer choices such as The Runners, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League and Tricky Stewart possibly could have derailed the project all together, but Loso’s Way’s score, despite being devoid of a standout continuance, manages to be a solid listening in its entirety.
But much like a bad actor, Fab can’t stick to script even if it was taped to his back. Those expecting a spin-off of a movie much like Jay-Z did with American Gangster will be sorely disappointed. For Loso’s Way is just that in fact: a Fabolous album conceived like the rest of his previous ventures. “Makin’ Love” and “Last Time” featuring Ne-Yo and Trey Songz respectively are simply R&B ditties featuring Ne-Yo and Trey Songz. He tries his best to camouflage the lack of conception with generic fodder like the well-worn tale of frenemies heard on “Panchanga” and the shoddy remake of Black Rob’s “I Love You Baby” with “I Miss My Love,” but the jury is not convinced. Sure a track like “Feel Like I’m Back” has clever similies abound, but the hollow subject matter takes its toll after years of hearing the exact same from the Street Dreamer. Ditto for the Alchemist produced “Lullaby.”
Not to say Fab’s latest is a total Razzie but it falls short of an Academy Award winner all the same. Unquestionably, with proper outlining and concentration, Fab could craft an album of epic proportions. But after more than a decade of ringing ’round the Cuvée Rosé, Loso’s Way is all that he knows.