I was beginning think that Fabolous was
never going to drop this album. It was originally slated for late 06, then
moved to February, then March… you get the picture. June is here, and so is the

Good things come to those who wait, right?

Real Talk was 3 years ago… and with his recent label change to Def Jam, Fabolous is
clearly out to take his career to that proverbial “next level”. “Yep, I’m Back”
sets the tone – a confident, mature veteran with nothing to prove. Problem is, “Yep I’m Back”
is the only solo track on the album (except for the intro). “Change Up”
could be named “Soul
Survior Part 2
.” Akon dominates the track, Fab’s
verses are an afterthought. “Make Me Better” is a bonafide hit: production, delivery….
everything. Ne-Yo co-wrote and stars on this one, and he does
in fact make Fab better. “Real Playa Like”
is real weak (Lloyd is on this one – need I say more?), and is
a definite contrast to the other hard, macho beats on the album. “First Time” is
a quality back-and-forth between Fab and Def Jam heiress Rhianna. It’s sexy but not slow,
hot but not sleezy. Plus, its Fab on his most passionate
topic: women. T-Pain shows up on “Baby Don’t Go,” a wonderfully-ridden
track with an infectious hook from the Tallahassee hero. The quips and vintage Fab
flow are sure to have the hardest thug bouncing.

“Return of the
is a casualty of the push-back (it’s not a new year anymore
Swizz). It’s nice enough, but a) it already dropped on a
mixtape way back in February and b) the Wu -referenced “cash
rules everything around me, CREAM”
, chorus comes off as recycled. “Gangsta Don’t Play’
is a clear low-point: a pseudo-reggae track with Junior Reid
with a organ bass-line that eats at your nerves. Fab spits his
heart out though, that’s for sure: “I could be in Figi, one call to GG, she
on some
shit like
X with a Squeegee/they say its
gangsta, but its just a way of life/ if life’s a bitch, better make everyday
your wife/ I’m from the era of the shoot-outs for drug spots/ happy to be here
so I smile in my mug shots/ the David
years, I even dug Koch/before
the George Bush drug watch, Blod

(feat. Young Jeezy) was the first single, and the duo
doesn’t disappoint. Dope boys from Brooklyn to Buckhead will like this one. “Brooklyn” does
(disappoint). The Biggie loop is way too repetitive for it’s
own good. I’m sorry, but a track called “Brooklyn,” featuring Jay-Z,
needs to be GREAT. Instead it’s just, just okay. In fact, President
verse is non-chalant, and Uncle Murda sounds
out of place.

“I’m the Man”
features up-and-comer Red Café, sorta (dude is only on the
hook). The beat is quality, but Fab’s flow is genius. Like,
listen close and you still need to rewind it genius: “You know how the man
do, the coupe is on Manu/ Ginobli’s but the trunk is on Kobe’s/ Do the bullet-proof when your
in the spur man/ slugs come through your window like Bruh-man”

“Jokes on You”
is not special, with Fab doing a not-so-flattering B.I.G.
imitation (“Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha” from “What’s Beef”). Pusha T
is pretty average, with lots of talk comparing himself to comedians. “What Should I Do”
has three great real-life verses from Fab; each interrupted by
some really sad (and I mean sad) whining from Lil’ Mo.

At the end of the day I think that Fab’s fourth album is tight
enough; but it is not the signature album that we were waiting for. Mr. Olous does himself
a favor by not switching up; on the other hand I was almost hoping to see him
try something new seeing as this has never lead to great albums in the past.
Why would it now? Some will knock him for all the guest appearances, and at
times this could pass for a Def Jam all-star compilation. But
then again, there are at least 5 hits on the album easy: “Make Me Better,” “Baby
Don’t Go,” “First Time,” “Diamonds
” and “I’m The Man.

Sounds like somethin’ to me.