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Fabolous was caught on camera engaging in a domestic dispute with his longtime partner Emily B and her father in the driveway of his Englewood, New Jersey home in March 2018. It was a bad look for the Brooklyn-bred rapper as the clip shed light on the ugly, domestic issues between him and his wife.

Fab, who normally carries himself in a calm and collected manner, drew negativity and criticism all over social media for his violent actions towards his loved ones. The moment became a blemish on his storied career and he knew he had to make a change. Since that incident, Fab experienced a level of growth and maturity in his personal life that serves as the backdrop to his latest release, Summertime Shootout 3.  

The third entry in Fabolous’ notable mixtape series — featuring Chris Brown, Tory Lanez, Ty Dolla $ign and more — is the first of many for the 42-year-old rapper. It’s his first mixtape to release on digital streaming platforms, and it’s the first project where listeners get to hear a little bit of Fabolous’ story.

“I wanted to share things that I was going through,” he tells HipHopDX. “I grew up and I wanted to take some time to vent and get some of my thoughts out.”

Fab, while sticking to his guns with the lyricism, gets introspective on tracks like the Roddy Ricch-assisted “Time,” where he learns how to become emotionally available towards his loved ones, and “Too Late” featuring Jeremih, which focuses on him mending broken relationships and becoming a better family man. 

Being vulnerable is foreign territory for Fab and it’s not the only new thing he is embracing in this era of his career. He’s taking all the issues that plagued him in the last few years and taking on a new role — telling his story so that others can use for guidance to solve their problems.

“For me, making music is, at the same time, a thing that I need to do because it starts becoming like not just therapeutic for me but also therapeutic for listeners,” he says. “I want to help them get through their tough times and doubts.”

DX spoke with Fabolous about Summertime Shootout 3, his growth and maturation, transitioning into the digital streaming era in music, if he’s chasing a classic album to validate his legacy, his favorite JAY-Z verse and more.

HipHopDX: You have 20 years in this game. How are you feeling?

Fabolous: I’m feeling good, you know what I’m saying? Of course, with how long I’ve been doing this you know I’m just starting to tell my story. For me, it’s like taking it easy and feeling comfortable doing what I do. So most of the time I’m not even thinking about trying to outdo or what I’ve done in the past. I’m all about moving forward and continuing to make music that speaks directly from me.

HipHopDX: Summertime Shootout 3 isn’t a regular mixtape. It’s the first you’re releasing where the digital streaming era is at its peak. What are some of the things that were hard to adjust to transitioning into the streaming game?

Fabolous: I don’t think it was really hard to adjust to. It was really just what was going on and adapting to that, you know? Like you said music is being digested mostly through digital now so that’s what I kind of kept in mind putting the project out. I also saw that playlists were becoming what mixtapes used to be and I kept that in mind with actually ranging and making this project. I wanted to give it a playlist feel because I just felt like putting this out was the new mixtape.

HipHopDX: These days there’s no real distinction between what’s an album, mixtape, or EP. Summertime Shootout 3 is a mixtape but feels like an album too. Was that intentional?

Fabolous: Yeah, definitely because of what I was speaking on within the project but also as you said, the lines have been blurred a little bit in terms of what a project is. Albums used to take a long time to come out. You had to have a certain amount of records to have an album or you needed to do songs in different lanes to have a well-rounded album. Now it’s blurred and even mixtapes started to blur because people would drop mixtapes and have them formatted like albums.

For someone to drop something I can’t really tell what it is because you know mixtapes before were freestyles or stuff that was flipped. It was a wide range of different things but it was still freestyling. It wasn’t structured like an album. Now everything is formatted the same way. It’s just what you title it honestly.    

HipHopDX: Summertime Shootout talked about a relationship. Part two was the bounce back from that relationship. Besides telling your own story, what’s the story you’re telling on part three?

Fabolous: It’s the back and forth between those two topics on the first two tapes. It’s the back and forth of a relationship and the back and forth of leveling up. It’s a play on words.  When I say it’s the coldest summer ever, summer is always looked at as a good time but there are times where you’re no longer with someone and it’s not a good time. There are times where you look at summer and there’s a lot going on and then there’s nothing going on. It’s the back and forth between good and bad, hurt and pain, right and wrong. But I feel at the same time I’m also deciphering my story. I wanted to share things that I wouldn’t have before and share my experiences that may help somebody else get through a time that they’re going through. All of those were apart of my process with this one. 

HipHopDX: One of those records that have you sharing your story to help others is “Time.” What’s something you would want to change about your career if you were able to rewind time?

Fabolous: That’s an interesting question because people would always say they would change something but I feel this is exactly what was supposed to happen. I don’t know if changing something could alter me even being where I’m at now. Like me being able to talk to you on this phone right now. It’s hard to say there’s something you would change because all of those experiences, all of those ups and downs, and all of those things I’m talking about that associate with Summertime Shootout doesn’t change the makeup of who I am today. 

I think there are certain things I might have thought through a little better or like gave it the time but like I said my original answer to that question would be just let things be as God put them to be. I don’t want to try and change anything that was written because I’ll change my whole story.

HipHopDX: You’re giving out a lot of gems to your listeners on “Frienemies” and “Too Late” while still dropping some fiery bars. How do you find the balance between giving your listeners advice from a veteran’s perspective while rapping as if you still have something to prove?

Fabolous: That’s part of the challenge for me as an MC. It’s like being able to sprinkle some medicine on the candy type of thing you know what I mean. Like you tell your story but also keep it a vibe. Be creative but not be too much over people’s heads. It’s part of the challenge for me. So there’s no real recipe I think. But when I make a record or I’m putting together a lyric, I’m keeping all of those factors in mind. I want people to be able to relate to this quote or catch this line or sometimes I want people to feel this certain way so let me change the cadence. To each his own I guess.

HipHopDX: You’re rapping relentlessly on tracks like “Cold Summer” and “B.O.M.B.S.” We know what you can do with words so what else is there for you to do now or prove in Hip Hop?

Fabolous: I’m taking this time now to tell a little bit about my story. The bars are just taking on the challenge of being a writer and a creative. But I want to tell my story. That’s one of the keys to giving people a project of what you’re going through because you could be indirectly helping somebody else get through their issues and problems. 

On the bar side, that’s just where I come from. I come from the mixtape class so records like “Cold Summer” was me setting the tone and getting the project on a certain level. “B.O.M.B.S.” is just going back to mixtape Fab and being like alright now that I set the tone, let me get back on my bullshit kind of thing and do what I do.

HipHopDX: You have the Summertime Shootout series, The Soul Tape series and the There Is No Competition series. How would you rank those from least favorite to favorite?

Fabolous: I really like The Soul Tape series. I love the instrumentation behind it and the soul samples. Even the perspective I was taking when I was making the project. I like each series for what they were though. I think There Is No Competition came from a place where Mixtape Fab is from. I didn’t follow the same guidelines that I had making an album so that’s where that series grew from. When I made albums, a lot of the time, I had to make a certain song for radio or a certain song for this or that and that drove me to make There Is No Competition where I could just be free again. I love the Summertime Shootout series because it’s just a body of work that’s really connecting vibes with bars. You can’t get that in a lot of places it’s either one or the other.

HipHopDX: Where do you feel you’re at in this stage of your career. Do you still feel underrated?

Fabolous: I don’t really feel underrated like what the actual meaning is. Sometimes I feel like I’m underappreciated but I don’t want to subject myself to a rating, to be completely honest. I try to stay from feeling or thinking I’m underrated. I really just like to think certain people value certain things and that’s with anything.

HipHopDX: On top of people feeling that you’re underrated they also feel you don’t have a classic album. With over 20 years under your belt are you chasing a classic album to validate your legacy?

Fabolous: That’s another thing that’s in the eye of the beholder for me. Every album I go in making something that speaks to me. At the beginning of my career, I was making a lot. I was making songs, putting them together and delivering the project. But towards the latter part of my career, I would really try to theme and tune into what I wanted to do and who I wanted to do it with. I started to make albums that were better curated to speak for me. 

But like what’s classic and what’s not is up to the people. Of course, there are certain albums that the masses will say is classic and there are certain albums that are debatable if they’re classic. Some people look at it as classics and some people don’t. For me, I always try to make an album that speaks for me the most and I think it’s not even up to the artist to say it’s a classic or not. The people speak on whether it touched them, moved them or even shifted the culture. Until those things happen then you can’t say ok I’m doing something.

HipHopDX: We recently celebrated the birthday of one of your idols and good friends, JAY-Z. What’s your favorite verse by him?

Fabolous: That’s hard, man. Hov has put out so many great verses into the universe man. To name just one off the top of my head? The joint he did with the Lox and DMX. 

HipHopDX: You’re talking about “Blackout” off DMX’s Flesh of My Flesh, Bood of My Blood?

Fabolous: Yeah, it was kind of like that old school type of joint. Jay came in at the end and said: “I’m a monster/I sleep whole winters; wake up and spit summers/Ghetto nigga, putting up Will Smith numbers.” That was a different Hov than the one we have today, of course, but that was one of my favorite joints. 

HipHopDX: You entered this decade with a new mixtape in the form of The Soul Tape. Along with Summertime Shootout 3, how are you entering this new decade coming up? People are saying they have to wait another five years for a Fabolous project.

Fabolous: I know I can’t listen to what people are saying. I definitely want to get out more music and now you can do that in different ways. You can put out EPs and mixtapes and singles. I’m definitely going to take advantage of how this digital streaming platform has opened up music. 

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