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New York has taken a few shakes over the past few years from this mountaintop called Hip-Hop that it ruled for so long. But while many MCs have come and gone, Brooklyn’s own Fabolous has continued his reign with his “steady wins the race” mentality. The one-time “King Of The Mixtape” circuit now returns with his fifth album Loso’s Way proving that Hip-Hop is indeed alive. With his ever-present swagger in tow, check out what Loso has to say about the current state of the industry, his run-ins with the law, and why he still looks at BMF’s Big Meech for inspiration.

HipHopWired: So first of all, Loso’s Way… Why did you decide to do a themed album?

Fabolous: Because I felt like Hip-Hop was getting away from that. You look at some of the classic albums of Hip-Hop and you see what they were saying. You look at Life After Death, Dr. Dre’s Chronic, the Eminem joints, some of the Pac joints and they all had a theme to them, even down to the artwork. I just wanted to bring that back and I thought that Carlito’s Way was a key story that was parallel to my story.

HipHopWired: On your previous albums you are known to make the female friendly records but those that listen to you know that you have that street side to you as well. Are you gonna go hard on that this go round or what?

Fabolous: Yeah, I definitely mixed that in on the album. Of course on this album you are definitely gonna hear that but I think that some of the people that don’t know the other side are people that just listen to my commercial work. Now on the commercial side, I usually release more of those radio friendly commercial joints to drive the album but if you look deeper into the album, you will find more street stuff on the album that is my kind of Hip-Hop. With this album we’ve got “Throw It In The Bag” that is kind of in that lane. It’s a summer, radio-friendly, kind of record. It’s also to bring some of those people in that don’t traditionally go for street music. It goes both ways. It’s people who only listen to commercial Hip-Hop and there are people who only like street joints. So you have to find a medium to pull both of those people in. I went back and forth. “Breathe” from my last album to me was not a radio friendly song but it ended up number one on “106 & Park.” And I couldn’t believe that it was because it was a lot different from a lot of the South’s stuff coming out at the time and a lot of the radio friendly stuff that was out at that time. It was like a breath of fresh air.

HipHopWired: So I understand that you are releasing a DVD as part of the album. What’s the film part about?

Fabolous: We shot a movie to give you a little visual that almost makes the album a soundtrack to the movie. We are gonna do a couple of screenings across the country. Probably in the 5 major markets. We are gonna do New York, LA, Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, and Vegas. We are just looking to expand the album through a movie. That’s one thing that is gonna come with that.

HipHopWired: From a business prospective, how hands on are you with this project? When you first came to Def Jam, Jay was there, and then of course, sadly, Shakir passed. Are you comfortable with releasing an album in this climate and without the support system that you came in under?

Fabolous: I’m kind of… The climate doesn’t stop my creativity. At the same time, I know what’s going on number wise. They say the numbers are down and stuff like that but that shouldn’t affect your creativity. As far as the support, I still have the same continuous support, even with the passing of Shakir and the departure of Jay-Z. I may not have even been here without the support of others besides Shakir and Jay-Z. I really believe that they were influential in me getting over here, but I feel that we built a strong support team over here at Def Jam, and they showed me all the love that I could ask for with me getting over here. I think the climate is right for music. A lot of people don’t sell well while certain people have. I think good music prevails over all of the bullShyte or anything that goes on when they are talking about climate, piracy, and all that. I think good music will just prevail over all of that.

HipHopWired: I know that you have a relationship with Budden and he recently had a situation that went down with Method Man and from you being an MC, I wanna get you opinion on it. Beef is when you’ve got problems with somebody on the street but lyrically Hip-Hop is supposed to be about who is the nicest. Everybody wants to be #1 so if someone calls you out, and this is what you do, should you step up to it?

Fabolous: I think if it stayed lyrical it does, but unfortunately now a days, it has become more about who can disrespect each other in the worse way and that leads into other things. It leads into people disrespecting other people’s families and livelihoods and that’s when it transforms from rapping to now you having to say something to defend your manhood, pride, and image. I don’t think Joe wants to take it in a violent way. I think he wants to keep it Hip-Hop, but certain other people, if you announce their name they wanna take it that way. Like, when they see them, “I’mma slap ‘em’ and then that reaction gets back to the person that they said they were gonna slap and they are gonna be like, “You ain’t gonna slap me ni**a.”

I feel like that could’ve been a battle. Me personally, I feel like Joe Budden is better lyrically than Method Man [at this point in time]. I don’t know if I would’ve been able to say that at Method Man’s peak. I also feel like Method Man has had a classic album, classic verses; I don’t know if I could say that Joe Budden has had classic stuff or material. I know he has had great music but I don’t know if he’s comparable accolade wise to Method Man. Lyrically right now, pound for pound, I believe Joe Budden is at one of the highest points at his lyrical ability. That’s just my opinion. I don’t know if Method Man is gonna put a diss song out about me after that because that is how this sh&t is going now but that’s just my opinion.

I think that it should be kept on a musical level because that how it started. Certain beefs are not started within music; they are trickled over from the streets. The 50 and Ja Rule beef started in another element and they just attacked each other musically and that’s a whole different ball game. I don’t know if it can just stay musical anymore. This is not 1980 with LL Cool J versus Kool Moe Dee. I wish it could because it’s a lot of fun and entertaining but that’s why I try to never get into that because it usually leads into something else.

HipHopWired: On you last album you cut back on the features. What made you switch it up and give us straight Fab?

Fabolous: I do have some features but a lot of the features on this project are choruses, it’s not too many people rapping on it, and I put them on the album because I felt that they would add an element to that song that I couldn’t add. I mean, I can’t sing, so I think they would add a different element to the song and that’s why I brought them in on that. I felt like since the project was themed, the majority of the rapping should be done by me because I am telling the story of me and its not too many other people who can tell the story of me.

HipHopWired: What’s up with your Rich Yung Society clothing line? You still rocking with that?

Fabolous: Yeah. We actually just switched manufacturers and distributors. We wanted to keep it boutique like a boutique line. We went through a transformation where we were about to go major into department stores and stuff like that, then we decided that we didn’t wanna do that. We wanna branch it and make it a little bit bigger and get more boutiques and more stores that carry boutique kind of lines but we just didn’t wanna take it to department stores like Macy’s, Bloomingdales, and those kind of stores.

HipHopWired: What’s up with Street Fam? I know you still rock with Freck Billionaire and Paul Cain. Are we gonna see projects from them or what’s going on with that?

Fabolous: We are still working it. Everybody is still working and trying to do their thing in the solo department tip but we are still working on a compilation project. The compilation to me is something like a situation when Wu-Tang did an album and that set up individual solo deals for all of them. Raekwon went to Loud, Method went to Def, and someone went to Sony. That’s how I’m trying to do it. Just build opportunities for them as solo artists as well as build a namesake for Street Fam as well. I also have a track that features all of them so that will be kind of like the introduction to the world on some of what they can do and what we can do together.

HipHopWired: A while back on your Twitter page, you mentioned that someone one from JD’s camp was leaking some of your songs. Did ya’ll clear that situation up?

Fabolous: Nah, I didn’t speak to JD yet. I don’t think its JD himself, like I don’t think JD is sitting at a computer and letting the songs fly off himself, but I do think that it was someone in his camp, someone he was around, in the studio with, or just someone being irresponsible and left the songs to be leaked. All three of the songs were produced by JD or his camp and that’s what it was. I wasn’t trying to go at JD’s neck, I was just trying to make him aware, maybe somehow my Twitter reached him or somebody said something to him about it because I couldn’t get in contact with him at the time. I just wanted him to check it out on his end as well because I don’t know who let these tracks out. Usually when an album gets leaked, they leak the whole album. Sometimes a single will get let out but when more than one single gets leaked and its all by the same producer, you kinda feel like it came from that area.

HipHopWired: Ok, lets switch gears for a second. What’s your situation with you and BMF? Have you spoken to Big Meech? Is he good or what?

Fabolous: I haven’t spoken to him in a while. I do have people who are connected with Meech and who always reach out. Like the last time that I got a chance to speak with him is at the BET Awards and I spoke to him. He is definitely one of those dudes that I will always look to and look up to him because even in his situation, he is always in good spirits and I don’t know too many people who would be in good spirits in the same circumstances. I mean he always gives me an outlook where even if something is going wrong, the little things that are going wrong in my life, things could be much worse. He’ll still give you a laugh and joke with you and still have this great spirit.

HipHopWired: Outside of Atlanta and the south, the first time people ever heard of Young Jeezy was on the track “Do The Da*n Thing” from your Real Talk album in 2004. What’s your relationship with him and are y’all doing anything together?

Fabolous: Me and Jeezy are cool. He became just like a homie to me so it is not always about working or a working relationship to me, I mean, we hang out and vibe. When I did that record with him that’s pretty much where it came from. It came from me just hearing him and him being around the family and just hearing his music and I was just liked his style and thought he was unique, so I put him on something. And a lot of people at the time when I did it were like, “Who is this kid that you’re putting on this record?” and they were just looking at me like I was crazy and I was like, “Nah man, its gonna work out” and at the end of the day it came out hot. From there, a lot of people up this way got word of him, and it’s been good every sense. Since then we’ve just been cool on a different basis, just hanging out and chilling.

HipHopWired: How do you feel about New York MC’s? This is just a personal opinion of mine but before 50 Cent came onto the scene, of course Jay had the #1 spot, and you held down the #2 spot for New York for the longest and I think 50 is always giving you credit for it, but I don’t know if New York really realizes that you really helped them in that drought time. Do you think you get the recognition for that?

Fabolous: Thanks Blue, but I don’t think I really do. I don’t always look for recognition because you waste your time looking for recognition. You could be possibly doing something else. I don’t get recognition for a lot of things but that keeps me working and motivated to do more. I look at that sometimes as a push vehicle for me to continue to do a lot of things. Like you said, there was a time when the South came in strong and there was not too much New York being played anywhere. “Make Me Better Was” out and that was the only song getting played out of New York in different avenues. So while everyone was up here beefing, and it was petty regional beef between underground artists instead of making good music, I was more into making better music to better me and big-up the city at the same time.

HipHopWired: That’s real. Now what’s happening with the tour bus that got pulled over a while back with the weed and what’s your status with the case?

Fabolous: Ummmm… I’mma just try to find a new tour bus to transport the weed (laughs). That’s just a completely made up story. I guess the media ran with it because it had a celebrity’s name, a so called rap star’s name that they attach to it so they can run with it. I never even got questioned by any authorities. I read the article themselves and it even said that the cops didn’t even believe the story of them saying my name and stuff like that. I guess just saying my name and my picture being attached was enough for a lot of media outlets to push it but it was completely false. I fly my weed on a plane and not a tour bus (laughs).

HipHopWired: When stuff comes out like this, how does it affect you endorsement deals, especially when the sh&t isn’t even true?

Fabolous: It does hurt that. Even in the beginning of my career, I lost a lot of endorsement deals when I was arrested. That’s another reason that I try to stay away from a lot of that frivolous fu*King bad media because its hurts you in other ways that you don’t even know. When some promoters pull up your info and some big corporation gets wind of your name and the first thing that comes up when they Google your name is a tour bus with 500 pounds of weed, they are like, “Aw, yeah, we don’t want him coming to our event because we are not sponsoring or supporting an artist who gets into illegal activities.” So it hurts you in a lot of ways, I lost a lot of sponsors back in the day when I got arrested and even though the cases that I got arrested for got thrown out or exonerated, I never got those sponsorships back. You just lose them and its on to the next thing. I’m really against that. I mean, I’m sure Chris Brown wants those Double mint commercials back. Everybody loves those extra little checks, ya know?

HipHopWired: Back to the album man. This is album number five for you. How has the game changed since you initially debuted in 2001 with Ghetto Fabolous?

Fabolous: It’s changed a lot. It’s very trendy. You see Jay just put out a record called the “Death of the Auto-tune” and I think that was a record aimed at how trendy auto-tune had become and how kids were just putting this effect on their voice and just thinking that if they made this melodic sound with there voice or catchy singy songy joint that everyone will love it. I think being a rapper, being an artist or being talented is a little more than that. It’s not just about trying to find the catchiest theme, catchiest melodies you can think of along with altering your voice and putting a tune on your voice. I think that’s definitely one thing that has changed.

The Internet is major change too that’s of course a gift and a curse. It’s a pro and a con because it helps you promote and helps you market but at the same time it’s kind of single handedly one of the biggest reasons that piracy is so high in the game too so I think it has changed a lot. When I first got into the game, the internet was not a big part of Hip-Hop. It was the nerds at the time who were mostly on the computer but now that’s where you have to go. I myself am on it and everyone around me, that’s where they check for everything.

HipHopWired: Break down the concept of Losso’s Way and the film.

Fabolous: Losso’s Way is a themed album that was inspired by the film Carlito’s Way. And I was inspired by how his story was kind of parallel to my story where he was a guy from the streets trying to come up and do something bigger and better verses back peddling back into the streets and ending up back in jail and stuff like that. I felt that was parallel to my story along with some of the trials and tribulations he had went through in trying to become bigger and better. Whenever you on your road to the riches, you’re gonna come across a couple of speed bumps and you just have to roll over them, slow down and roll over them and keep it pushing. I saw that in his story and that’s part of my story so with this album, a couple of things happened between this one and the last one that were personal to me and I wanted to share some of my personal things on this album too and within the music.

I had my first child between these last two projects so I definitely touched on that with the album. A couple of my relationships I changed with different people and I wanted to speak on that because that’s a relatable situation to people in general. If you have a long time relationship with anybody or long time friendship with anybody and it changes so I wanted to speak on those kinds of things and that was all relatable from the movie as well.

The production. At first I wanted to get with 1, 2 or three producers and have them collectively work on a project but then I started running into a problem with that. So what I had to do was open my ears to all producers and see who could stay or close enough to the theme with their beats and I think I did a good job with that. We got everybody from “Song Leaking” J.D. (laughing, I’m joking) to Khalil to a lot of new guys too because it wasn’t just about getting big names. It was just about whoever had the heat so it’s a lot of new guys that you may have never heard of or who are the next big names and they collaborated and helped me on the project. As far as collaborations, I got Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, Ryan Leslie, Kerri Hilson, The Dream, Neo, Jermiah, and Marsha Ambroise from Floetry. I also got Red Café, Paul Cain, Freck the Billionaire. That’s pretty much it I think. I think I delivered a solid Hip-Hop album and dropped some real lyrics over some hard beats and I think my fans are gonna love it.