For a second, all the pre-album mini-dramas might have made you forget about the real Fabolous .
There was the name change. F-A . . . B-O . . . L-O . . . U-S wasn't doing it anymore, so he started stamping his verses with "Loso."
There was the whole Sebastian Telfair chain-snatching incident outside of Diddy's restaurant, which left Fab with a bullet in his leg.
All that brought back memories of this Brooklyn rapper with a vicious freestyle and dope mixtapes who hit the streets and the radio hard with his debut album, "Ghetto Fabolous."
But if you quickly scan the track list for Fab's fourth album, "From Nothin' to Somethin'," you'll see a bunch of features that look like he picked them from the R&B tree -- Ne-Yo , T-Pain , Rihanna , Lloyd, and Lil' Mo -- and remember that after his first CD he became the post-LL, pre-Cassidy chick-record rapper.
Plenty of rappers juggle the street tracks and the tracks for the ladies. Jay-Z mastered it. Nas tried it and quickly gave it up. 50 made it a joke. But Fab made the chick track his niche. He makes songs that get girls to sing the hooks and rock to the beat.
There are a bunch of them on this album. Rihanna sounds like Beyoncé on "First Time." Fab weaves around Ne-Yo's high hums and Timbaland's bass thumps on "Make Me Better" (it's a "swagger track," Fab claims, not a chick record). He reunites with Lil' Mo (was "Superwoman" really seven years ago?) on "What Should I Do."
But the highlight of the soft cuts is a collaboration with Lloyd on "Real Playa Like," a breezy beat put together by Atlanta's Polow Da Don with a very retro-Neptunes sound.
That said, with Fab, there's no real median between his lover and his gangsta. He's one or the other.
On the rest of the album he's repping "Brooklyn" with Jay-Z and Uncle Murda, switching vocations (boss man, weatherman, ice man, dope man) on "I'm the Man," talking dope boy to dope boy with Pusha T of the Clipse on "Jokes on You," and flashing rap's requisite "shoot you in the chest, I'll wet you" flow.
He has a ton of gorgeous throwaway lines. There's one while he's slaying a Swizz Beat production, "Return of the Hustle": "That's why my money stack high, how high, Shaq high."
Then he drops another quick one on the second bar of "Change Up," a track featuring and produced by extra-busy producer/singer Akon (think Young Jeezy's "Soul Survivor" with advanced lyrics) about how the money won't change him because "they don't make bullet-proof vests outta dollars."
Missing from the album version of "Diamonds" is Lil' Wayne's mixtape cameo. In its place is a verse from Young Jeezy, which is unfortunate. It's kind of like going to Enterprise expecting the Grand Prix and getting the
The album is stuffed to the max with features (13 cameos on 14 tracks not including the intro). Eminem has called this cheating. But because Fab has such a strong flow and you rarely get enough of it on his albums, you always end up feeling cheated.