A lot of people aware of Fabolous now might question this post, however, before he intentionally decided to dumb down, he was incredibly underrated. The music from back then still is. Here is why.
Although he sells records, and is an extremely popular artist now, who also gets respect on top of record sales, before all that, he was underrated and under-appreciated as an artist, and even more so as a lyricist. I’m going to say something that might come across as a bit bold – Pre 2007 Fabolous is one of the best lyricists (in Hip Hop) of all time. Yes, I said it.
His content has never been incredibly deep or meaningful, but the way he put his rhymes together, and the techniques he used was ahead of its time. Rhyme wise, he was the follow on from Pun and Big L, who followed on from people like Kool G Rap, Lord Finesse, Rakim, and Big Daddy Kane. I don’t think I’ve ever seen or heard anyone give Fab the credit he deserves for his complexity. I suppose this is a defense of Fabolous in the same way that Rakim defended Eminem (have I mentioned Eminem in every single one of these underrated posts?), back when Eminem was in his prime, and a lot of the Hip Hop ‘community’ had a similar view that Frenchy here has.
Even on his singles, he didn’t simplify, or pander to the average listener/the general audience, when it came to his actual writing.
His multi syllable rhyming is on the level of what a lot of underground, up and coming, and battle rappers are doing nowadays. This is about 10 years old. He even has punch lines placed across it, like “cause when she saw the whips and chains, she started talking ’bout she’s ready to be made a slave”. That concept has been used a bit more now, and it’d be played out today, but again, this was 10 years ago.
In this song, called ‘Ma Be Easy’, he takes the multi syllable technique even further, and adds in assonance in between, too. Not only are his rhymes themselves long (6 syllables), he doesn’t just do the usual 2 or 4 bar schemes, he keeps it going for 12+ bars. 12+ bar multi syllable schemes, with rhymes packed in, all next to each other, with assonance in between, that sounds like modern battle rap.
In this song, Not Give a Fuck, at parts, he essentially rhymes over the whole drum pattern. ‘Some-thing-like-a-phen-om-en-on, dump-ing-when-ever-the-dra-ma’s-on…..crunk-when-ever-I’m-on-a-song’ and so on. The reason I included this song, was to show the consistency he had in using all of these techniques at the level he did. He didn’t do tracks like this every now and then, this was just how he rapped.
He doesn’t rap, or rhyme like this anymore, but I don’t think he fell off. That might seem a bit like wishful thinking, however, I do have logic to back that up. His ‘dumbing down’ wasn’t over time, he didn’t just seem to lose it more and more as time went on, it was just that one minute he was doing all this, the next Shawty Is a Ten. It’s laughable how easy this must’ve been for him to write. What I think is that nobody was noticing exactly what he was doing, and giving him the credit he deserved, so who is he going to impress with all this? Me? Hip Hop wasn’t really paying attention. And although he was successful to a decent degree commercially, he wanted to take it to a new level, and the average fan isn’t even aware of this type of shit.