Unlocking ones potential can change the way in which eyes are cast upon you forever. For some it happens instantly, while for others it can take over a decade. The latter of the two time frames has never applied as much as it does right now to Brooklyn spitter Fabolous. Back to hit fans over the head with another dose of his Soul Tape series, Fab has without doubt crafted the project of his career.
Originally known as Fabolous Sport, the Bed-Stuy born rhymer infiltrated the industry during the late ’90s with the help of DJ Clue. Going on to have a successful career that has included number one hit albums and singles, video game features and now a reality show, none of his previous efforts have ever hit home the way The Soul Tape 2 does. If you’re a fan of witty punchlines, top quality instrumentals, and a host of well structured samples, then you’re in for a treat on this one.
A great R&B/hip-hop collaborator – Ryan Leslie, Trey Songz, and Ne-Yo often enlist his help – witnessing the rise and rise of an artist of Fab’s stature has been somewhat exciting. Going from a jiggy rapper with Ma$e tendencies to an established and finely tuned emcee is like watching the rose grow out of concrete that 2Pac often talked about. Honing his skills on his reworking of Rihanna’s “Diamonds” he can be heard reaching deep within himself and taking refuge in the fact that he survived the life many from his hood do not; there’s no questioning his elite level of lyrical maturity. Yes of course he still brags about material things, but that’s hip-hop – love it or hate it.
Spinning materialistic dominance renowned throughout hip-hop in another direction on the J.Cole produced and featured “Louis Vuitton,” Fab calls out the many women of the world who are in it to win it financially. As Fab spits, “She look like she came on herself/ Shorty you should be ashamed of yourself,” referring to the way in which a female admirer reacts to his Louis Vuitton luggage, the at times comical name and shame game Fab and Cole play on this one rides out over a soulful gem of a beat. You’d be forgiven for thinking it might have come from a spy movie of some sort, or even an old school Peter Sellers Pink Panther movie.
Due to its non-profit nature, the beauty of a mixtape is its ability to sample whatever it likes without having to pay the track’s original composer. Whether or not this should be the case is a debate for another day. Whatever your view, the constant use of sampling throughout The Soul Tape 2 assists it in being one of 2012’s finest mixtapes, alongside perhaps Big Sean’s Detroit. “St. Elmo’s Fire” is one of the sample heavy offerings that helps it to achieve this status. Sampling Michael Franks’ 1975 hit of the same name, which has actually been sampled by many other hip-hop artists, Fab goes in on the art of rolling up and drifting off. Using weed as the base subject matter, he addresses all types of highs contained within one hell of a musically stimulating relaxation package.
While tracks such as “B.I.T.E.” and “Transformation” hear Fabolous get his gritty on, it’s his take on Rick Ross’ soothingly delightful “Diced Pineapples” that pushes the tape to that next level. Replacing Drake with Cassie, and Wale with Trey Songz, the summer slow burner turns in to an oven hot banger. Following it comes another laid back and instrumentally strong number in the form of “Beauty,” but it’s the tape’s encore that deserves all the props the world has to offer.
Jumping on Usher’s “Throwback” beat, which originally sampled Dionne Warwick’s “You’re Gonna Need Me,” Fab, Joe Budden and Teyana Taylor lyrically, vocally, and instrumentally dominate “Want You Back.” With some gut wrenchingly honest song writing on offer, Fab addresses his relationship with Emily B and even takes a pop at her with a clever string of bars regarding her alleged fling with NBA star Derrick Rose.
While Teyana Taylor proves she’s an underrated individual when it comes to the harmonies, Joe Budden steals the show with his array of bars touching upon his much publicized break up with video vixen Tahiry Jose. Rhyming like we know he can, Budden’s goes to that dark place where brutal honesty is the norm, and fans of the New Jersey emcee know he’s one of the best when it comes to laying his life on wax. Stripping away the masculinity and embracing their inner Drake, Fab and Joey open their hearts and in all honesty it should be to a fanfare.
Trey Songz unintentionally describes The Soul Tape 2 during his verse on “Diced Pineapples.” Quoting “Metaphoric bliss,” this is exactly the way to describe Fabolous’ latest effort. The first part of the Soul Tape series was good, this is exceptional. Proving that he’s one of the most consistent artists in hip-hop, the evolution of this emcee has never sounded as prominent as it does here.
DOWNLOAD: Fabolous – The Soul Tape 2