For Christmas, Fabolous was in a giving mood, as the Brooklyn emcee offered fans the third installment in his “There Is No Competition series.” While Loso’s Way 2 is in the works, Fab hopes this one will tide the masses over.

“Death Comes in 3’s” sets the tone for TINC 3, letting listeners know that they won’t be hearing the Fabolous that caters to the ladies. “You Don’t Know Bout It ” keeps Fab on the street shit; corny punch lines (“My nigga moved so much Britney Spears / They gave that boy Fed time”) and a weak hook drag this one down, not to mention that the beat consists of repetitive organs. The same can be said for “Swag Champ,” at which point the listener has to be asking themselves: why is Fab rapping over such sparse production? He’s never been such a personality or vocal presence to carry a track (unlike a Busta Rhymes or Eminem), so what’s the point of giving him a few bloops and bleeps to rhyme on?

“TINC 3” isn’t short on triteness, but just in case, Trey Songz helps the cause on “Spend It” with, “Bitch niggas be talkin’, we just call it pussy poppin.” “Black City” at least has some more engaging production, as does “Got That Work,” which develops as the track progresses. Jadakiss and Styles P mercifully lend some bars to the project on “B.E.T.,” and although neither come with their best, they still force ‘Loso to step his game up a bit.

It’s not until “Death in the Family,” (track 13 of 15) that Fabolous seems to wake up and kick some bars worth replay: “Tough times don’t last, but tough people do / I father niggas the way Wayne and Puff reproduced / Lil’ rap bastards, runnin’ around whitcha snapback caps backwards / Should be in Rap caskets.” It is, of course, curious to hear Fab criticizing other emcees for biting his style, but that’s a conversation for another day. At the very least, the track provides something to satiate Fab fans momentarily as they wait for his next release.

Fab saves easily the best for last, as Just Blaze provides an epic sound-scape on “Lord Knows” for Fabolous to go in on everyone from your favorite emcee to Plaxico Burress (“Shut the fuck up, Chedder Bob”). The track is a reminder of the chemistry that these two have, as well as what Fab can do when he’s interested.

It’s not really surprising that There Is No Competition 3 isn’t a particularly memorable release. The days of Fabolous’ mixtapes being something to write home about has come and gone, but what’s troubling is that this is a decidedly lazier release than There Is No Competition 2. Fans can look at it one of two ways: they can opine that either Fab should’ve left most of this stuff in the recycling bin of his computer, or be thankful for some free material ” even if it is of dubious quality. Neither of those choices is a ringing endorsement of TINC 3’s quality, and that should tell you everything you need to know about this project.

DX Consensus: “Just a Mixtape”

Listen to Fabolous – There Is No Competition III: Death Comes In 3’s