Fabolous brings New York rap back to the forefront with his "Soul Tape 3" mixtape.
In November, Atlanta rapper Trinidad James caused a firestorm with comments he made while performing in Brooklyn, New York City. After multiple rappers (most notably Maino) called him out for stating that ATL rappers run NYC musically, the Def Jam signee finally admitted he chose the wrong venue. Veteran Brooklyn rapper Fabolous chose not to respond to James publicly, instead choosing to let the music speak for itself. In what has now become a holiday tradition, Fabolous one-upped Santa Claus on Christmas Day and treated fans to the third instalment in his acclaimed Soul Tape mixtape series.
Fabolous has brought New York rap back with this new 12-track tape. Never one to skimp on the wordplay or punchlines ("wanted to spread them legs like you number 23"), Soul Tape 3 is vintage Fab, and finds him feeding both the streets and the hip-hop world at large. Kicking things off with "Everything Was The Same," Fab mixes old and new lyrical stylings and sets the tone for the rest of the project. Still one of the best storytellers on the mic, he weaves intricate street fables and paints vivid images with his words.
Inspired by The Notorious B.I.G.'s hilarious song "Playa Hater", which found the late, great Brooklyn emcee channeling his inner Teddy Pendergrass, Fabolous delves into the dangers of slipping while balling out of control at the club and hooking up with the wrong person on "Playa":
"Shawty rollin with it, she is not a faker / Now you with your wheel like a roller skater / Pullin' out the lot you tell your homies 'Later!' / Stopping at the light, corner of La Brea / Niggas ride up on ya like an escalator / Wearing all black, Oakland Raider / Screaming "run your shit before they AK ya!" / Begging for your life hoping they don't spray ya / Shoulda left that baller shit for the Lakers."
As we know, Kendrick Lamar ruffled a lot of feathers with his verse on Big Sean's "Control", which caused Fab to hop on Twitter and threaten a response. Although he took a minute to do do, "The Get Back" kills several birds with one stone, containing some thinly veiled threats aimed at both K.Dot and T. James:
"They just killed this vibe, they just killed this vibe / There's something about killing shit that makes us feel alive / We feed off your energy, we see you on that Kenny G / Just tooting your own horn, do your thing, my N-I-G / Whenever you ven aqui to that mighty NYC / We gon' check that name you claim, bring your YAWK! and I.D. / We take it the wrong way, all gold everything / One gold watch, two gold chains, give me all those – everything."
On "Cuffin Season", which contains a sample of Bobby Vinton’s "Sealed With a Kiss", Fab is quick to point out that men lie and women are fake. "Foreigners" finds him riding through your neighborhood with Meek Mill, and Jeezy brings his A-game to complement the Brooklyn rapper on "You Know", produced by Boi-1da. Also, Jadakiss lends a skilled hand on the new street anthem "The Hope", which was produced by AraabMuzik. Not one to ignore the ladies, Fab was mindful to include songs for the fairer sex. "Situationships", featuring Mack Wilds and Tiara Thomas, takes a closer look at both sides of a toxic relationship, and on "Thim Slick" he discusses the type of woman that makes him weak in the knees with assitance from Jeremih. He also recruited R&B crooner Ryan Leslie for the soft and sexy "Lay Down."
But Fab is truly at his best when he offers something for the streets with "Young OG":
"I learned that niggas gon' be niggas, yeah, we shouldn't do it / But hoes gon' be hoes, they just ain't admitting to it / Where I been? Getting to it, going through and getting through it / Running 'round killin' shit and tellin' cops I didn't do it / That’s why they call me Young OG / And I'mma spit this dope shit until my tongue OD / I flew my shorty in from Cali and she brung OG / She got me chilin' in my city but my lungs OT / And fuck them niggas online, reply why? / Broke niggas talkin' 'cause it's free Wi-Fi."
Peppered with excerpts from hood classics such as Baby Boy and Menace II Society, Soul Tape 3 is a delightful departure from the type of music that dominates today's radio waves (in New York or otherwise). If there was any doubt as to New York rap's potency, this project is a stark reminder that hip-hop began in the Big Apple and will always remain here.