Everyone has a different opinion about Fabolous, but you can't help but be impressed that he's managed to remain a relevant part of the hip-hop dialogue for the past decade. Tomorrow, his mixtape-turned-EP There Is No Competition 2: The Grieving Music Mixtape gets an official release, adding a memorable highlight to a year that's seen Fab up his viral presence through his hilarious Twitter feed and a few online confrontations, most recently, a digital sparring with Joe Budden last week. We caught up with the Brooklyn rapper at NYC's Polar Lounge to talk about the legacy he hopes to leave, whether he's underrated, and why you shouldn't let Kat Stacks in your hotel room...
Interview by Ernest Baker
Complex: Diddy nicknamed Coconut Ciroc "Coco Loso." I had it for the first time and it's pretty good.
Fabolous: It's a cool drink. It won't take you out of your zone or anything. It just smoothes you out.
Complex: Do you have an official relationship with Ciroc?
Fabolous: I definitely do. I have a Ciroc deal brought to me by Diddy. He's standing behind me.
Complex: Did you expect TINC2 to make the transition from mixtape to official release?
Fabolous: No, it's definitely more than we aimed for. I went into it thinking it was just something for the fans, but it grew legs and Def Jam came to me and said, "Let's put it out as an EP and get it to a broader audience."
Complex: What are your plans for the next full-length LP?
Fabolous: The next album is Loso's Way 2. I'm putting that together now. I like to sit down with the whole scheme of things and see how I'm gonna present it. The subtitle is gonna be "Rise To Power." I think that's appropriate coming off the year I had, and the fact that I'm taking that next step.
Complex: Why a sequel?
Fabolous: Because I still feel like I'm telling my story. I've been consistent, I've had hit records, but I don't feel like I've peaked. There's still things to come and the end of the story's not here yet.
Complex: You sound like you think you're underrated.
Fabolous: Part of leaving your legacy is not worrying what everyone is saying about it. It's always gonna be people who's sleeping. The mixtape may have woken up some people who thought I only did commercial joints and "Throw It In The Bag"-type records. Things get overlooked and people put you in a box, but I'm not here to prove something to anybody. I'll try to connect with those who don't recognize, but that's not the goal of my whole career.
Complex: So when you say you're not trying to "prove something," would that explain why you ignored Joe Budden's request to get on a record with him and Lloyd Banks?
Fabolous: The Joe Budden thing was really just taken out of context. I didn't see it at first. I didn't see his request. I was actually bullshitting on Twitter, doing something else. When I did see it, I had to make sure it was even true because people say things on Twitter and put people's names to it and stuff.
Fabolous: The first time he asked me to do a joint, it was a different set-up. He had a bunch of other people on it and I didn't think that worked for me, so we didn't do it. We didn't speak back at that point, either. We just ended up not doing it. This time he reached out, but the way he did it, people took it out of context and thought because he said, "Are you gonna avoid me like last time?," people thought, "Oh, does Fab not wanna get on a joint with Joe?" which led to the #FabScaredLike trending topic, which was actually funny. I don't take Twitter that serious. It's all in good humor. I've made fun of people on Twitter and it's whatever. People made it more than it really was.
Complex: So is the record happening?
Fabolous: Now I have to do it, because I guess if I don't do it, it looks like I'm scared. I've talked to Joe since then and I was like, "Good job, Joe. You got me."
Complex: Is that something you'll be recording soon?
Fabolous: I don't know. I don't think he even has the song. He was just putting the premonition out there and saying that me, him, and Banks would be a dope record.
Complex: You're gonna need to come with some heat after all of this.
Fabolous: [Laughs.] Yeah, now I gotta come with the verse of my life. But honestly, I don't cater to that either. I'm gonna go in there and do what I do. I think I've always stood out on records, and that's one of the reasons Budden would even want me to be a part of this.
Complex: But regardless, as a competitive dude, do you think you're gonna have the nicest verse?
Fabolous: I never put myself at a bragging point where I say, "I'm gonna have the illest verse." I think when it comes to the lane that I'm in, I do that the best and I'm gonna come with that every time.
Complex: Perhaps when recording, you don't always have a "I need the best verse" mentality in mind, but when a record's done and you go back and listen to "Nothin' On Me" or "6 Minutes," are you being critical of yourself against the other rappers? I mean, your project is called There Is No Competition. It must come to mind.
Fabolous: It's tricky because sometimes people's verses are not done. And another reason that doesn't always work now, is because people aren't in the same room doing the verses anymore. When I did "You Ain't Got Nuthin," I did that for Alchemist a year before it came out on Tha Carter III. Wayne or Juelz could have dissected my verse, studied it to a T, and murdered me bar for bar. But it was still able to stand up against two other great rappers, so that shows me that I did a good job.
Complex: Yeah, I see what you mean.
Fabolous: Joe Budden, for one, is a guy who loves to let everybody else do their verses and come behind and do his verse after. So when you have that situation, sometimes you can say, "He killed it," but you didn't do it in the sense of us all going in there and doing the record. [Laughs.] Anybody can do that. I'm not saying it's easy to kill somebody's verse, but when you get to hear the other ones and come behind, I'm sure it's easy for anyone who's a skilled rapper.
Complex: Soulja Boy is another rapper it seems like you may have a little tension with after you referred to his Kat Stacks scandal as "stupid boy swag."
Fabolous: Well, despite what she was saying earlier this year, I've never met her. I just think, you've seen what Kat Stacks has done many times before, so it was stupid to me that he allowed himself to be put in that position. I have no beef with Soulja Boy or anything like that.
Complex: Knowing her reputation, do you think the whole cocaine thing is legitimate?
Fabolous: I really don't believe the cocaine thing. It was just bad enough for me that he had her in the hotel room. He should have been smarter than that.
Complex: Does it even matter if he was doing coke?
Fabolous: Nah, for a 20-year old to just be sniffing coke is not appropriate. And Soulja Boy has a younger fan base, as well. I come from the hood, and I'm not accustomed to seeing young black dudes sniffing coke. But I don't believe it anyway.
Complex: After Brian Pumper made a #FabScaredLike Tweet, you went in on him a little on Twitter. What was that all about?
Fabolous: He was trying to play off the whole Joe Budden thing. You're entitled to speak out, but that just put him on my radar, and I wanted to let him know, "What are talking about, nigga? Who are you and why does your opinion matter?" That's between me and Joe, but if you're looking for publicity, I'll give you a trending topic real quick, make some fun of you, and that's it. There's no beef.
Complex: But I'm sure there's less of a level of respect for a porn star rapper.
Fabolous: I don't have any less respect for him or what he does. He makes his money however he does, but you definitely not gonna say nothing about me.
Complex: You must have been the type of dude in school who had a comeback for every joke.
Fabolous: I kinda was. [Laughs.] That's what I look at Twitter as. It's like a fucking big ass lunch table with people joking around and talking shit.
Complex: People love to bring up your chipped tooth whenever you're going back and forth. Gucci Mane's teeth are looking super white these days. How come you've never gotten yours fixed?
Fabolous: It just became like a moniker with me. I think it's something that everybody recognizes. I can fix my tooth at anytime. It's also a reminder of where I came from and how I came into the game.
Complex: Speaking of how you came into the game, you never were heavy with the drug talk, so why are you going for the kingpin-like image with these new Loso's Way projects?
Fabolous: I used to to hustle growing up. I never glorified that all the time musically. I mean, I spoke on it once in a while, but I come from the projects in Brooklyn. I come from hardship and trying to find your way, and drug dealing was the way at the time. I never wanted to preach that or encourage kids to go that route, but it's a part of my life.
Complex: So when you have a video like "Welcome To My Workplace" with naked girls bagging up crack, especially if that's not the level of dealing you were at, what are your intentions when presenting imagery like that?
Fabolous: Just trying to let you into that world. There was many levels that I was in. We were cooking up. I mean, the girls probably weren't butt naked. If not first hand, I've been in that circle of lifestyle. It's all relative and real to me. I'm not imitating or anything, because I've been there.
Complex: Because dealing is something you talk about somewhat infrequently, do you have a problem with rappers who make a life they're no longer leading the focal point of their raps?
Fabolous: No, I think it's creative if they can continue doing that. Guys like Jeezy and Clipse are not still moving coke at this point, so at some point they gotta start talking about the lifestyle they're living now versus what they used to do. But I don't fault them for that.