Shout to @JRBang from thewhatonline.com for putting this post on my mind.
I originally wanted to do this post on September 11th of this year but, time got away from me. However, in retrospect it’s only right that I not do it on that day to prove the point and purpose of this post. It is quite possible that Fabolous solo debut is the most unappreciated album EVER! Now it sounds like a stretch but lets really dig into the subject at hand.
I remember hearing Fab on DJ Clue’s “The Professional” album and absolutely not liking him at all. I was deprived of all the mixtapes and intros that he did so that’s all I had to go off of. When “Can’t Deny It” dropped it was one of those records that you couldn’t get away from. I went from thinking it was cool, to loving it, to absolutely HATING IT before the album dropped. Ironically, I was not going to purchase any album in September but, one day I woke up and “Izzo” became the coldest song in the world to me in late August. I also heard Takeover by then and although I was a die-hard Nas fan, I was still going to get The Blueprint Album. So literally it became a “I only got about 20 dollars, so who am I going to spend it on?”
With “Can’t Deny It” being a smash and also being on Lil Mo’s Superwoman you would think that would be enough to sway the attention to the new young Brooklyn emcee…but it didn’t
The day of the release, the most tragic occurrence ever on American Soil happens. No one predicted it or saw it coming. The Twin Towers collapse as two planes slam into them and everyone is thinking about everything but music. Nothing trumps national tragedy and to be honest in 2001, first week sales didn’t matter that much. I honestly don’t even remember caring about sales until 50 made us watch Ja Rule decline.
Fast Forward to maybe a month or even more later. My roommate Joe was either taking me to work or to get my car because I always had an issue and he asked me if I heard that Fabolous. I gave him my standard reply of “Naw. Is it tight?”. He said yeah, it’s actually pretty hard. He puts it in, skips the intro and goes right into Keeping It Gangsta. Right then and there I knew I wanted to hear that particular song 10 times at least!
Then I heard “Young’n” [Holla Back], then “Ride for This”, “One Day” and had to get out the car but I left like “Dang! This Fab is pretty bumpin!” So of course what I do, throw caution to the wind raced out to Best Buy as soon as I felt I had enough and I bought the Ghetto Fabolous album! I listened to it again and all the way through and it was maybe 3 songs that I didn’t like on it and when I heard “Gotta Be Thug” as A bonus track, so I didn’t have to switch between Backstage and the Album, It was a lock! I had no idea Fab was on Backstage. Honestly never really played the whole CD through the first 4 times I listened. Remember, the “Fabolous Sport” verse soured me instantly!
It’s not said often but Fabolous debut album could easily be considered the Number 3 hip-hop album of 2001. I’ll give Blueprint it’s due as Number 1 because that is a classic album. That album confirmed in my mind that I was a Jay-Z fan so it’s number 1 for that reason.
I know what you’re thinking “What about Chronic 2001?”….It Dropped in 1999, Next question.
The only other album I can’t safely put it above is Ludacris “Word of Mouf”. Ludacris becomes a Superstar cause of that album. He also, sold more and cranked out bigger hits so, you can’t put Fab’s debut above it.
My personal favorite album of that year was Project Pat “Mista Don’t Play” which I feel is PHENOMENAL! Jadakiss debut was also out in 2001, Ja Rule was the hottest thing in the WORLD and of course The Source helped Nas one up Jay for classics in December for Stillmatic giving it a classic 5 mic rating…All that is why I feel Fab’s great debut leaves him lost in the shuffle. Think of how great your project had to be to get noticed just 13 years ago. 2001 created and solidified a few rap GIANTS and Fab was doing his thing but was a Rookie in every sense of the word at that time.
Grant it, people considered Fab a “Ma$e knockoff” but, he addresses that in the first song. “Same laid back flow, no dancing and grinning”…That honestly made me want to hear the rest of the album. The more I listened the less he sounded like Ma$e to me and that gained my appreciation.
My personal opinion: Outside of Loso’s Way, song for song, Fab has not clearly made a few albums better than Ghetto Fabolous. I think it’s one of those albums that people won’t consider classic but, it meets enough criteria to the point that people would be hesitant to argue it isn’t.
The album debuted at 4 on Billboard
Produce 2 hit singles and a hit single not even on the album [Trade It All Remix
Production from The Neptunes and Timbaland
One could even argue the life of this album gave you your “song of the summer” for 2 years straight. This album didn’t go platinum till sometime in 2003.
I’m also not counting mixtapes in this, just strictly albums because Street Dreams Part 2 is definitely a project I would put over this album. Sure, Fab has had bigger SONGS but a lot of Fab albums can be somewhat disappointing. Fab has also one of the strongest mixtape catalogs ever! Like….EEEEEVVVVVEEERRRRRRR!!!
So the question is: Is Ghetto Fabolous one of the most unappreciated albums ever in hip-hop? I think so. On IG I think I was the only person who acknowledged the anniversary of the album. Seen a lot of people post about Blueprint though. It’s no way you can forget it. It dropped along side a classic and the same day as the biggest U.S tragedy! It’s literally the 3rd biggest thing that happened unless you had a birthday, child, or know someone that died.
Overall, I feel this album sets the tone for how we all view Fab. Fab is MONSTER! He’s consistently been one of the best emcees since he’s debuted. I don’t see how people talk about NY Hip-Hop and how bad it is when someone from Brooklyn gives you at least 1 hit a year for 13 years! Fabolous just might be the 4th or 5th Greatest Rapper from Brooklyn depending on where exactly Rakim is from, yet he’s never really gotten the spotlight completely on him to shine. He’s also one of the very small few to get in this game and survive without a major rapper or mogul co-sign. He was essentially “put on” by DJ Clue….that’s it! Fab is also the reason Throwbacks became so popular. You copped Mitchell and Ness because of Fabolous…no one else. He also has one of the most copied flows and demeanors. There was a lot of “Fabolous sounding cats” local and national. Remember Sacario from the Angie Martinez joint? Fabolous deserves a lot more recognition and appreciation period. This album is the very first reason why.
Salute to Fabolous and his “Dark Horse Album” Ghetto Fabolous. Give it a listen…or buy it.