Fabolous’ [click to read] style draws many comparisons in the Hip Hop community – both Ma$e and  Lloyd Banks [click to read] come to mind. But the most telling, yet somewhat unexpected, is that of Busta Rhymes [click to read]. No, Fab isn’t animated in the least; but he and his Brooklyn counterpart have one very significant thing in common – albums that rarely live up the hype generated by their singles. Ever since his storied freestyles with DJ Clue, Fab has been touted time and again as one of Hip Hop’s most promising young lyricists. But for whatever reason, he hasn’t been able to keep it together for an entire LP. Loso’s Way aims to derail that tendency, and to prove once and for all that Fabolous has what it takes to hold his own as a solo artist.

Assuming the identity of Loso, Fab kicks the album off in a movie-themed fashion, introducing his new character: “Fuck ‘em all, motherfuck ‘em all / ’Yall done turned a good guy into a Chucky doll…/ Let’s talk about how I kill everything I touches / Or how I walked in this game with no crutches / No Diddy, no Dupri, no Dr. Dre/ No cash money from Baby, no rocks from Jay.” In what turns out to be a fairly grand entrance, the intro succeeds in letting the listener know that – you guessed it – Fab comes into this project with an enormous chip on his shoulder.

Jeremih joins in on “My Time,” where Loso proclaims victory over triumphant bells. “Imma Do It” is more street talk over quirky (but hard) production by DJ Khalil, with Fab delivering his trademark punchlines (“My attitude is celibate / I don’t give a fuck”). Lead single “Throw It In the Bag” leaves something to be desired, as the production is a little too minimalist – as are Fab’s rhymes. Fortunately, this lapse is a short one, as a guest spot from Jay-Z [click to read] on “When the Money Goes” [click to listen] forces Fabolous to step his game back up: “You can’t ride big on little rims / You wanna do it big? You need a Lil Kim / Raise her hand high, look in the man eye / ‘I don’t know him, your honor – can’t lie’/ Money come, money goes / So you need to blow it like a runny nose / On a lady who ain’t turn one-eighty / Place no-one about you, sweet Sadie.

Paul Cain, Red Café and Freck Billionaire [click to read] join in for some tough talk on the grimy “There He Go,” which is mostly enjoyable but a bit crowded. “Makin’ Love” featuring Ne-Yo [click to read] comes out of left field, as it doesn’t have much of anything to do with the rest of the album. It’s not a terrible song – Fab keeps the sex talk interesting enough – but it’s a puzzling inclusion nonetheless. But just when you think he’s about to regress into the Fabolous of old, Loso closes out the album with a stellar selection of tracks – “Pachanga,” “Lullaby” [click to listen], “Stay,” and “I Miss My Love.” “Stay,” in particular, is a gem in which Fabolous opens up about fatherhood. “I Miss My Love” is a close second on the album, as Loso flexes surprising storytelling muscle on his own six-minute-crime epic.

Loso’s Way features several R&B singers, but in the age of the insanely shitty hook, it appears as though Fabolous chose wisely. Jeremih, Keri Hilson, Ryan Leslie [click to read] and The-Dream [click to read] deliver, as does relative unknown Kobe. The quality control process here extends to production as well. Whereas much of Fab’s previous albums contained ineffective synth production that often bordered on silly, it appears that he has officially matured in that department. Case in point, the simple but effective bounce crafted by Ryan Leslie’s “Everything, Everyday, Everywhere,” and the airy strings featured on Jermaine Dupri’s [click to read] “When the Money Goes Remix.”

One thing Fabolous has never lacked is an ego. Finally, after eight years in the game, it appears as though Loso has been able to justify his notorious cockiness. It’s not the classic album he claims to release every time he drops, but it’s a damn solid and cohesive effort. Nearly each track conveys effectively, both in subject matter and production, the lifestyle and attitude Fab is trying to portray. Loso’s Way may be the first completely focused album Fabolous has ever dropped, and the results confirm what all the hype was for in the first place.