Fabolous ain't exactly old-school, but after 10 years in the game, he's definitely grown past new-jack status. But as consistent as he's been, Fab has yet to hit us with a classic end-to-end album. But with his fifth LP Loso's Way dropping in July, and the single "Throw It In The Bag" taking over airwaves, Fab seems more focused than ever. While doing a photo shoot for an upcoming issue of Complex, Loso took a few minutes out to talk about spoofing Dame Dash, what happened to his throwbacks, and what the real deal is between him and Tahiry...
Interview by Soo-Young Kim
Complex: You're known as a pretty laid-back guy. Whose idea was it to make that Dame Dash parody video?
Fabolous: [Laughs.] Yeah, it's funny cause I'm really laid-back, but I do have like a silly side sometimes, or a funny side or an angry side just like everybody else. So, I went into a meeting at Def Jam and it happened to be in the same room that Dame did that. I always found that Dame Dash video kinda interesting, so when we got in there, I was like, "Oh, this is the room that the meeting that Dame Dash did his little spaz-out moment!" And I started doing it and they were like, "Yo! We need to tape that." So for a little comedic edge, we put the pizza thing to it cause we happened to be eating pizza. I mean, the people who know me—like know me very well—they [understood] that but everybody who's seen it other than that, like yourself, it was like, "Yo, I woulda never expected Fab to do something like that."
Complex: Have you ever personally witnessed Dame wilding out?
Fabolous: I have...but the funny thing about Dame wilding out, I think he was more, like, wilding out for his team, you know what I'm saying? He always was a guy that would take no shit for anybody who was trying to bullshit his team and that's kinda what he was doing in that video as well. He felt like he was holding down Jay at that point so, I mean, he had got the tag of being a so-called "asshole" cause he was usually always being an asshole for all the things he believed in, so I don't know if that's wrong. [Laughs.]
Complex: In rap, there's the older generation like Jay and Nas, then there's the whole new class of younger rappers. At this point in your career, where do you put yourself?
Fabolous: I'm kind of like right in the middle of that because I'm from that Jay and Nas era. Maybe not just coming out at the same time as them, but I grew up on hip-hop from the early '90s and late '80s, so I know the same music from the era that Jay-Z and Nas come from, and that's why I respect their music so much. I am in the game now so I see what's relevant around me, the young guys, like you're saying, but the game has changed a little bit so I don't think the same kinda effort and legwork is put into the artists that they have now as were yesterday, so I'm somewhere in the middle of that. I think maybe later on when those other older guys are a little further away out, then maybe I will be on the same plateau, but it's funny because I've been around for almost 10 years in the game but somehow I still look like I'm like on my second or third album or something. So it's good cause it doesn't blow up my age, you know what I mean? [Laughs.]
Complex: Speaking of the new album, you also had a mixtape called Loso's Way. Do you think people will get it confused with the new album?
Fabolous: Not really, because sometimes people in the mixtape world, they're like underground fans and I think they're smart enough to distinguish between the album and the mixtape. I think the people who're gonna hear both, they know the difference, so I don't think it should confuse anybody. The title of the movie I shot—I shot a movie for the album as well—that's called Loso's Way too, so the good thing is you may Google that name and all of those things will come up and you can take your choice.
Complex: And is the album going to be similar to the mixtape?
Fabolous: It's more on a different vibe because I themed the album kinda after the movie Carlito's Way. I watched Carlito's Way one day and I saw that his trials and tribulations and all the stuff he was going through was parallel to my story. I wanted to take my album back to a theme because if you think of some of the great albums, they had a theme and it brought you into the world of the album. You know, the Biggie, the Eminem, a bunch of guys had a theme and once you listen to their music, you got into the theme, even if you walked away from that or you didn't live that, you were in their world, so that's what I wanted to do by theme-ing my album. That's why it's a little different than the mixtape, because it's actually themed and I touch on certain areas of my personal life. This album was way more personal than any album I've done before. Before I used to just make records, take the hottest 16 records that I thought I had, slap them together and put 'em out, but this one is actually themed so it rides way better. You get a good feeling, but still good music at the same time.
Complex: Which of the new crop of young New York rappers do you feel like you're competing with?
Fabolous: None. I'm not... there's no New York rapper who's out that is competing with me because first of all, I'm the best and—
Fabolous: [Laughs.]—second of all, I'm not like a new jack, I'm not just coming out, this is not my first album. I've been out for years and I've had numerous hits, I've had numerous endorsements. It's my fifth album, like, this is not new. I'm not just rapping because I like it anymore—this is like almost my career now, you know? Not almost, it is! This is what I feed myself and my family with, so I attack it that way. You know, certain people, they do what they do, and I'm sure they're good at what they do but I just don't put anybody—especially in New York—in my category because they haven't been through all the things I've been through, throughout my career. And I'm still going, I believe. I still haven't peaked, there's a lot of guys who've came, peaked, and I think now people look at them and are like, "OK," but I think people still want more of me because they feel like I haven't peaked. Sometimes I even hear people say, "I don't think Fab has lived up to his full potential yet," you know what I'm saying? I believe this album right here is a classic album and I listen to it as a fan; I just rode in my car listening to it and I was very pleased. I hope everyone else feels the same way when they hear it. I felt like I grew from last album to this album and I evolved all the way around...all the way down to doing stuff at Complex, because Complex is a more mature magazine as well and it's diverse, so it touches many different people and before or maybe earlier in my career, I wasn't in that lane. I've had my first child since my last album, so this project has become like an opening as well. So now you're gonna see stuff like the Dame Dash spoof, you know what I mean? You're not gonna know where that came from but it was always there—but I'm kind of releasing it a little bit more.
Complex: What's your take on the recent Joe Budden vs. Method Man controversy?
Fabolous: This was a funny thing because I was biased. I was explaining this to somebody else, because of course I know Joe Budden. But I feel Joe Budden, at this present time at [looks at phone] 2:40, June 5th, I believe that Joe Budden at this point is a more lyrical rapper than Method Man. Now, if you go back in time, like Joe Budden may be at one of his best forms now. Now the question is, if you can see Method Man at his best form to Joe Budden's best form: Method Man at his best form was a humongous hip-hop identity, you know what I'm saying? He brought an element to the game that wasn't even there when he came. It's just this whole grungy, gritty style and I remember at one point he was a sex symbol—like girls thought he was sexy and everything. Meth has had a classic album. I think his first album was classic, he's had classic verses that I can recite word for word, and I don't know if I could say the same for Joe, but I do believe Joe at this point, at [looks at phone again] 2:41, June 5th, I believe Joe is a better rapper. But Meth is not at his highest form right now either.
Complex: So then, speaking of Joe Budden...
Fabolous: That's just my opinion, I hope I don't get in diss videos or YouTube videos against them. I'm entitled to my opinion.
Complex: [Laughs.] If you were still with Budden's girl Tahiry, do you think she would've blown up in the same way that she is now?
Fabolous: If I was? Umm... I don't know, we were never, we were just friends. I don't know if I can say I was with her, I don't want this to go further and be like, "OK, Fab said he... " So it's like, I don't know! I really have no idea what she would've done. More power to her and congrats on everything she's doing now, I'm happy for her, she's a friend of mine so only thing I can do is wish her the best.
Complex: You've collaborated with Ryan Leslie, The-Dream, and Ne-Yo. Who did you like working with the most?
Fabolous: I like really working with all three of those guys. On the R&B tip, those three guys have become my favorite three guys to work with. Ryan because he's so creative. You know how you give some suggestions to certain people and they're like, stuck in their way? Ryan is completely opposite—he wants your suggestions, he wants your feedback, he wants you to mix and mingle with what his ideas are and make dope joints. Ne-Yo is just like a writing genius. He just writes these songs and they're like, you can't believe he just wrote that and that's why I think we mix well. He's told me the same thing like, "Yo, you write some stuff and other than a few other guys I can't believe you just said that and made it rap and rhyme and metaphorically flip something," and I feel the same way as him, I feel like he's a writing genius and I think when we mix our creativity together, we make dope joints, you know what I mean? We're even talking about doing a sorta like a Jay-Z/R. Kelly Best of Both Worlds kinda album later this year. And Dream, we just have this amazing chemistry when we on the same joints and it just sounds good. I don't know how to define it, it's just like one of the things—we put peanut butter and jelly together and it just tastes good. All three of them make R&B in a different lane and it's funny how I mix well with all three of them, but it's hard for me to say any which one just because all three are different directions.
Complex: In The-Dream's "Rockin' That Thang (Remix)" video, there is a magazine-cover theme and you're seen in front of one that's similar to Complex.
Fabolous: Oh yeah? I like Complex, I love Complex. I like to look through it. I like the way you guys do special shots too and I like the texture of the pictures. It's a little different than the average magazine, so you can see it's tastefully done. I just like the photography the most, I'm a reader of course too, but I like to see pictures taken well and Complex makes sure they have that. And they try different things, like with this shoot for me today, we were just talking how most of the shots I'm wearing, kind of the stuff that's put together to look well together, but not really like a perfect match and it was different for me because I'm really matchy. Like if I have a shirt on, I'm usually gonna have the hat to match the shirt, or the shoes to match the shirt or the hat, you know what I mean? I'm really matchy. But I appreciate all aspects of fashion and I know certain parts of it is unmatchy, and you have to wear it well... I think that's why they picked me because I think they know I could. They figured I could wear it well and I think Complex takes people from just their regular element which would be matchy-matchy for me, and say, "We're gonna take Fab out of his matchy-matchy ass and fucking put him in some unmatchy stuff," and Complex does that well.
Complex: You used to be the king of throwbacks.
Fabolous: Ahh [sighs]...throwbacks!
Complex: Where are all those throwbacks now?
Fabolous: The throwbacks now are in the basement of my house in a big box...they're waiting for throwbacks to come back maybe. [Laughs.] And I'll have the jump ahead on everybody, but I doubt it so they're just down there now. What I'm thinking about doing is getting a couple signed by some of the actual athletes and framing them and make it like memorabilia or something like that. But I think the throwback era...you know hip-hop has trends and they come and they go...that was one that went. [Laughs.]
Complex: Nah Right recently said you should step your Twitter game up. What do you have to say about that?
Fabolous: Yeah? I don't know! My Twitter is good! I have a lot of followers, maybe 80,000 followers. In what way did they mean step it up? Did they mean, like, step up my...
Complex: Maybe interact with the followers more? Tweet more?
Fabolous: 'Cause when you have 80,000 followers, it's hard to reply to everybody cause you get a lot of replies off it. Everything I send gets hundreds and hundreds of replies. So, I skim through sometimes and I'ma say this, when I actually check the replies back, it's usually on...
Complex: Your BlackBerry?
Fabolous: No, the computer. Sometimes it freezes my BlackBerry up, like the Twitter cause I get so many, so it freezes it up, so I try to do less through here unless I really wanna see what somebody answers back to me, but...I'll definitely try to step up my reply game, but I'm so busy and I get so many replies that it's just hard for me. But Nah Right, since you blew me up for not replying, I'm gonna start replying a little bit more.
Complex: You've had respectable album sales and critical success. Are you trying to accomplish anything else now?
Fabolous: I definitely would like to embark on acting, give it a shot, you know maybe that's my calling, maybe it's not. Maybe I suck and I'll leave it alone and just keep rapping. I just want to try it out, like different endeavors now are starting to come with being a hip-hop artist or star, many things are thrown at you. I have a clothing line that we've been launching like the last year or two and just branching it out and still doing the groundwork of getting it to be at the big lines. It's called Rich Yung and it has a following between like younger kids and the demo who looks at me as a tastemaker. I once said I wanted to open a chain of some kind of stores and stuff...I just know it takes time and I'm so devoted to my music at this point and becoming the best artist I can be. I don't want to devote too much time to anything else before I say I've conquered that. I just wanna become bigger and I'm never satisfied with just what I am today, I just always want to be bigger. If I was Bill Gates, I would double Bill Gates, you know what I mean? That's the mindstate you should keep in any profession, just keep striking iron and trying to get bigger and better.
Complex: Last question. In your opinion, can you name your albums from best to worst?
Fabolous: Best to worst, OK. I definitely believe that Loso's Way is the best album I've put together, period, so I would have to say Loso's Way, number one. This might be an argument to some of the fans but I wanna say Ghetto Fabolous, number two. Then I would say, From Nothin' to Somethin', number three. Then I would say...this is a toss-up between Real Talk and Street Dreams...I would say Real Talk, I'm gonna go with that one. And not to say that Street Dreams is my worst 'cause I had two big hits on that one, but all the way around I wasn't satisfied with the album. There's a lot of things going on in a situation but I think it still has some good records on it and I'll say Street Dreams was the last.