Since Fabolous’ 2009’s “Loso’s Way,” the rapper has fed the streets with a steady stream of free mixtapes, underground DVDs and mixshow staples, including last year’s hometown anthem “So N.Y.” All the while, Fabolous has studied the hip-hop industry’s current climate, crafted a game plan and is ready to execute with the late Spring release of “Loso’s Way 2.” On the heels of the debut of his latest single “Ready” featuring Chris Brown, Fabolous spoke to The Juice about “Loso’s Way 2” collaborations, criticism of hip-hop’s landscape and putting on for his city while maintaining his integrity.
You recently debuted your collboration with Chris Brown, “Ready.” Can you talk about how it came together?
I went down to Miami and worked with DJ Khaled and some of his producers. The Runners came through and played this record. I thought it was special as soon as I heard it. We got a hook written for it and asked, “who could come in here and blow this hook away?” That’s when Chris Brown’s name came up. You know what Chris does. He’s a great performer and singer. I wanted our first collaboration to be on a great record. I think we made a smash for our first time together.
Is there a video for “Ready” on its way?
Definitely, man. It’s the ratchet era right now. Ratchet is really mainstream. There aren’t many songs like “Ready” in that area. So for the video I want to take it away from a lot of the ratchet party type videos and take it back to when people looked at videos and said “ah man, I need a vacation,” “I want to be that girl in that video,” or “yo, that chick is bad. I wanna marry that chick.” I want to bring back the illusion and sense of fantasy, not just do the ratchet shit that everybody else is doing.
It’s interesting you bring up the “ratchet era.” You’ve mentioned when you were putting these “Loso’s Way 2” records together, you were aware of what the club sounds like right now and how DJs are putting together their sets. How has that played into your creative process for this project?
That was one of the challenges. [It was hard] to make it competitive to what’s going on and still be able to have them played in that medium. It’s also hard to do so but not compromise yourself to the point where you’re sounding like everybody else and using the same features that everybody’s using just so you can get played. I didn’t want to go down that route. A lot of the collaborations I did were with either friends of mine who I’ve worked with before or guys I hadn’t worked with in the past but if you’ve heard them on a few joints you haven’t heard them with me. I think it’s still fresh when you hear two people collaborate that haven’t done so over and over and over.
You’ve been at this for over a decade. How have things changed since your debut?
Coming in, I was just a young kid rapping. I didn’t have as much direction or control over what I was doing. I was pretty much given ways to go, beats, direction and songs and what I should talk about. Now I’m in a different place, this is my career. I’m not just a young kid rapping anymore. I know what I do and I know what needs to be done. Of course, I still take opinions and beats from other people and genuine ideas. But now, I have more control over what I want to do. I know the kind of person I’ve evolved into and what kind of music I want to make.
Before “Ready,” you released your “So N.Y.” anthem. There’s been a lot of talk about New York hip-hop and artists, both new and OGs, that have kept the city alive. What are your thoughts about the current state of N.Y. hip-hop and how you fit in it?
I think it’s always going to be a place for it. Of course, it’s not as prominent as it was in the past but that’s the change in music. Whether you’re from the South, West, East, or wherever, a lot of the music is sounding the same. Different artists rap over different beats but a lot of the artists are sounding the same. I think that’s where New York lost its leverage.
I think there’s always going to be artists that continue to put their stamp on the game, though. Congrats to A$AP Rocky. I think it’s great how he created a lane for himself. It may not sound like the typical 90s-2000s N.Y. music, but he’s still from here. He made N.Y. fit his style of music. There’s a change in the generation between the old and what’s going on now. You can’t make music for what people want N.Y. to be. You’ve got to make what you want. I think between him, French Montana and others, you’re going to hear different kinds of music coming from N.Y. It shows the diversity.
How does your approach differ when putting together a mixtape versus an album?
“The Soul Tapes” were stemmed off the music. I was focused on a different style of music like soul records and samples. I was talking about relatable lifestyle stuff more on those tapes. For the album, my focus is to show my evolution, talk about more personal things that are close to me, but also make joints fuse together.
Some of the projects we call classics are sonically good. Kendrick Lamar’s album [“good kid, M.A.D.D city”] was a great sonic piece of music. It went together, not just skit-wise, but the music of the album went with each other. It wasn’t a down south beat here, a conceptual beat there, and a Dr. Dre beat here. Even though there were different feels, the music married each other. I’m trying to do that with my project as well. Drake did it with “Take Care” as well. He had a sonically dope album where you could ride smooth through it. His project showed a lot of growth and what he does with the fusion of singing and rapping.
I think a lot of that had to do with the producers they worked with. Drake has had 40 since day one and Kendrick had his in-house TDE crew all over his album. Who are some of the producers you sought out for this upcoming album?
I used a mixture of producers because you get certain sounds from different producers. But it also makes it harder to get things sonically married. When you use a lot of different producers, it’s harder because you make songs you may love but it might not match another song. I’ve always had that issue. I feel like a lot of artists have that issue. You may go down to Miami and get with Timbaland and then shoot over to Atlanta and get with JD. You’re going in trying to make the best record you can make with them and end up with different vibes. I don’t have a sit-in producer that can know the vibe of an album and always aim for a certain sound. But I’m trying. I’m still working on the album until I have to walk it in.
How far along are you with “Loso’s Way 2?”
I’d say it’s 80-85% done. I’d even give some of that 15% to working daily until I’ve got to turn it in. You may come with a record that’s urgent, that has to be on that project, the day before you turn in.
What are some of the songs or collaborations you’re excited about?
I’ve worked with a lot of guys. I’m not even sure which songs are going to make it or not yet. But I’ve worked with Chris Brown, of course. I got Rick Ross, John Legend, Future, Ne-Yo, Trey Songz, Young Jeezy, Chrisette Michelle. I’m just thinking of names off the top. I’m still working on piecing it together and making it sonically fit. I even got a text today and was speaking to Nas about doing something as well.
Wow. Talk about New York hip-hop. That would be crazy for the city.
Definitely. We haven’t worked together yet so I’d love to make that happen. We’re gonna pull it together.
You spoke about a record you having coming out about VH1’s “Love & Hip-Hop” show..
It’s not just about the show. It’s more about my situation and my views on reality TV. I just used that name because that show has been associated with my situation.
I think in hip-hop, reality TV has become just as important of a promotional tool as the radio. Something that once was thought of as gimmicky, is becoming more mainstream and accepted amongst artists.
I still think it’s gimmicky. You using a gimmick to sell what you’re trying to sell. In certain places, people are exposing or exploiting a lot of stuff. To each his own, but it’s not my cup of tea. I don’t choose to entertain with my personal life. I’d rather entertain with my music. I’m cool with my personal life being personal. Certain people don’t feel that way. They feel they can control it and show what they want to show. It’s not what I’m about. I can’t say I’d never do it because if I could control it and it was done the right way it could possibly happen. But as far as making a “For The Love of Loso,” nah.
“For The Love Of Loso!” That’s it!
[Laughter] Nah, we can’t do that one yet, man. “The Love of Loso” is hard to get. That show would be a long, long, long season.