Until now, Brooklyn rapper Fabolous kept his private life under wraps. Not only did he stay quiet about getting shot three years ago-a rarity among rappers-he also chose to keep his relationship and the birth of his first child out of the public eye.
Recently, though, he's changed his tune. With the release of his fifth studio album, "Loso's Way," out July 28 on Desert Storm/Def Jam Records, Fabolous says he's ready to get personal.
"For a while it felt like my personal life was just my personal life," says Fabolous, born John Jackson. "But I started to feel more comfortable in my skin and with myself as a public figure, and I wanted to share more of my character with my fans. I also felt it could help my music too, especially this album."
To help tell his story, Fabolous looked for inspiration in "Carlito's Way," the 1993 movie in which an ex-con pledges to shun drugs and violence despite the pressure around him.
"The concept of the album came from me watching 'Carlito's Way' and seeing how he was a guy who came from jail and wanted to do something bigger and better," he says. "I didn't come from jail, but I came from the hood, and in many ways I felt just like Carlito, because even though I'm still connected to the streets, I wanted to do bigger and better things too. There were a lot of parallels between his story and mine."
Fabolous says the lead single, "Throw It in the Bag," produced by Tricky Stewart and featuring his labelmate the-Dream, doesn't fit in with the theme, but he explains that "it was so contagious and catchy that we just had to go for it." The motivational "It's My Time," featuring Def Jam newcomer Jeremih and produced by the Runners, which was released in conjunction with "Bag" and appears in a TV ad for the NBA draft, is an example of how Fabolous' and Carlito's stories coincide.
"This song is about how I generally feel about my life and my career, and it's relatable to people because it's the type of song that motivates you to do whatever it is you have to do, just like Carlito," Fabolous says. "Throw It in the Bag" and "It's My Time" recently entered Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and Pop 100 charts at Nos. 94 and 99, respectively.
Created with help from producers like Jermaine Dupri and DJ Toomp, other tracks on the album include "Stay," featuring Marsha Ambrosius from Floetry, about a son asking his father not to go. "It's a personal record for me because in between the last album and this album I had a son, and so on this track I talk about my relationship with my son and with my father," says Fabolous.
"Last Time," finds collaborator Trey Songz singing, "'this is the last time but I gotta see my baby,' but it is a metaphor for him having to see the streets one last time, just like Carlito on his last run," says Fabolous.
But the record that play off the movie the most is the stand-out track "Pachanga," named after Carlito's right-hand man, who betrays him at the end of the film. "A thug changes and love changes, friends become strangers, pachanga," Fabolous rhymes, sampling Nas' "The Message."
Other tracks include "I'ma Do It," with synthesizers and a thumping baseline; the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League-produced "Feel Like I'm Back," which finds Fab rhyming about not returning to prison over heavy drums; the Jay-Z-assisted "When The Money Goes;" the berating "Salute," featuring Lil Wayne; "Making Love," featuring Ne-Yo, which samples the Brandy song "Brokenhearted;" and "Fabolous Life," helmed by Ryan Leslie, on which Fab's flow simulates that of the late Tupac Shakur.
Fabolous will embark on a radio promo tour in July and open for Jay-Z on seven dates during his tour. In August, he'll begin an official small-venue tour. In August, he'll begin an official small-venue tour. Additionally, he will release the follow-up club single "Everyday, Everything, Everywhere," featuring Ryan Leslie and Keri Hilson, before the album's release, as well as the "Loso's Way" DVD, a movie about his struggles to succeed, which will be packaged with the album.
"I just finally decided to tell my tale. I touch on some of the feelings surrounding the shooting and other trials and tribulations I've faced in my life on this album without beating a dead horse," Fabolous says. "People are getting a lot more personality and a lot more visuals. It's about time for me to do that. It's almost like I'm reinventing myself."