Back in the day, being the King of New York was synonymous with being the King of Hip-Hop. But then west coast G-Funk, the south’s bounce, and the midwest’s melodic and quick flows made their claims for the throne. Now, the hierarchy resembles more of a roundtable of kings. And as he stated in a Breakfast Club interview, that’s exactly how Fabolous sees himself fitting into history. But he’s not content to let his current legacy speak for itself after he’s dead and gone. Fab AKA Loso AKA F-A-B-O-L-O-U-S recently released his mixtape, Summertime Shootout, on Thanksgiving and also plans on another album for Christmas–the sequel to The Young OG Project. By now, his fans expect solid music around the end of the year and he’s delivered so far in 2015.
Summertime Shootout is a unique project from the self-proclaimed young OG. It’s a combination of original tracks, freestyles over other artists’ songs, and modified covers of others, all neatly packed into a plotline. And it’s free. You may have been thrown off by the title of the mixtape since it came out in the colder months of the year, but it’s centered around a girl he falls for and flies out to Los Angeles, where it’s always warm like summer. The mini skits at the end of select tracks make the transitions work, adding to the tape’s flow from start to finish. The listener follows Fab as he meets a girl and convinces her to fly out to Los Angeles with him for the winter. Everything seems to be going fine (watching Narcos and getting ice cream on dates) until she gets “violated” by a group of unidentified men. Accordingly, Fabolous and his team have to strike back the only way they know how to. Unfortunately, we’re never privy to what happens to Fab and his girl.
The tape takes a bold first move by starting with a song that prominently features a banjo. But it sets the tone that the rest of the music to follow is to be enjoyed like a warm day on your porch. It also ends with the opening lines we’re supposed to imagine Fabolous delivering to his love interest in this romance. Fab stays true to his love of the 90’s by using samples from The Fugees’ “Killing Me Softly” and LL Cool J’s “Doin It Well.” He even gets a new verse from Nicki on “Doin It Well” as she had already freestyled over it in 2008. The two songs he freestyles over (The Weeknd’s “Tell Your Friends” and Bryson Tiller’s “Sorry Not Sorry”) show his ability to play into another artist’s theme as well as flipping it to suit himself. For his verse on The Weeknd’s track, he chooses to talk about those who take up gossiping like it’s their job, even though it’s a “broke people sport.” Then on “Sorry Not Sorry,” he falls in line with Bryson’s gripe with people who hit him up now that he’s made a name for himself.
Of the completely new songs, “Vanilla” and “Summertime Sadness” stand out the most. The former features foreboding production from Sonaro as well as a fitting appearance from Rich Homie Quan. The track also switches up into Dancehall midway as a pleasant surprise. “Summertime Sadness” samples the gloomy Lana Del Ray track of the same name to match the heavy heart and nostalgia Fabolous and Dave East share. It’s ironic since they discuss losing friends in the street when Fab had just taken out the men who had violated his girl at the end of the preceding track. These two songs are good news for Fabolous’ upcoming music since he proves that he’s keeping up with today’s sounds in Hip-Hop and can inject his life and story into those sounds seamlessly.
The Brooklyn native still has his punchline chops up to par on Summertime Shootout and even the lines that are a stretch (“Big mouth bitch, we just call her Gmail/you know everybody had a Gmail) deserve a laugh. But they’re still not at a “what did he say?!” level like back in the Ghetto Fabolous days. Then again, that phase of his career might be dead and gone while a conceptual Fab filled in the gap. While other artists who are his contemporaries are releasing music to stay relevant, Fab is doing it as a form of creative expression. Even though he uses other artists’ music, Summertime Shootout is a cohesive project that plays out like a short film. The time and effort put into this project leads us to believe that he’s feeling very confident about The Young OG Project 2. And we are, too.