When he first stepped onto the scene, Fabolous was undoubtedly the talk of the streets. Now three years later the streets are no longer buzzing for Fab. Instead they have been replaced by fanatical, love stricken woman everywhere. With the female demographic cornered, Fab has certainly taken his fair share of criticism. From being labeled as a sell out, to forgetting about his hardcore Hip Hop fans, Fab has heard it all. Now with his third release, Real Talk, Fabolous looks to regain the streets that he once called home.
If you think Fabolous was joking around when he wanted Real Talk to be more street oriented than you must have been in shock when he dropped his lead single "Breathe". With Just Blaze giving him one of his best beats in years, Fab took it back to his mixtape days and delivered the best song of his career. Even though Just Blaze's catchy vocal sample and hypnotizing keys make the track alone, lyrically Fab steps his game up as well. It has been awhile since fans have heard Fabolous Sport come as hard as he does on "Breathe", taking it back to his glory days of clever punch lines and metaphors.
With the streets buzzing over "Breathe", Fab attempted to divide Real Talk in two halves. As you would expect, the street side songs on the album are some of Fab's best material to date. Producer JV's ambient keys and spacey whistle on "Don't Stop Won't Stop" gives Fab all he needs to tear the track to shreds, as F-A-B addresses all the haters and doubters. "I listen to niggaz flippin' my lines, and be grippin' my nine. Like damn niggaz flip and only spit game…See first it didn't matter, and I was a little flattered. But now these young boys they gettin' too grown. Like I ain't show 'em how to rock jewels two toned. But it won't stop, and it don't stop".
The Hotrunner produced "Real Talk (123)" is another certified street anthem that succeeds due to solid production and amazing wordplay from Fab. Things get a little more aggressive on the aptly titled "Gangsta", which acts as a sequel to the mixtape favorite "Keepin' It Gangsta". In addition, the hood tales of "Ghetto", "In My Hood" and "Po Po" are all decent efforts that may not have an abundant amount of replay value, but are dope nonetheless.
Even though street half of Real Talk is treat for hardcore Fabolous fans, the softer and more radio friendly tracks unfortunately hinder the album's success. Fabolous continues to follow the manual on how to make a commercial single with songs such as "Baby", "Girls" and "Holla At Somebody Real" featuring Lil Mo. However, Real Talk does not only falter when Fab tries extremely hard to pull in his female fan base. As he does the same on the coerced dirty south influenced "Do The Damn Thing" and the West Coast sounds of "Church". Things get even worse on the reggae influenced "It's Alright" featuring Sean Paul, thanks in part to Just Blaze's recycled production.
Real Talk is easily Fabolous' best album to date, but in the end, it is still disappointing. While his beat selection has improved, Fabolous continues to stay inside his comfort zone and produce the same tracks he has been making for the past three years. The album lacks any conceptual material, or glimpses inside of Fabolous. Instead, the album is filled with endless punch lines and sappy R&B ballads. Still, Real Talk has its share of moments that put his first two albums to shame. And while Fabolous may never live up to the expectations set upon him three years ago, fans will take glimpses of greatness for now.