The rappers that I care about are the ones that polarize, that take risks, that do something original. Fabolous, unfortunately, is not one of those rappers. Which isn't to say that he hasn't carved out a nice niche for himself - you've probably heard his trademark gravelly monotone on the radio for the last eight or nine years. He appears on lots of sugary R&B singles, spits hot punchlines, and releases albums that no one pays attention to. Makes sense; after all, sugary R&B guys don't make classic records, right? For the most part, Loso's Way is a sad testament to that.
Loso's Way is not necessarily a horrible album. There are still some of the snickering one-liners on which Fab built his reputation, but he's clearly trying to diversify his repertoire, as evidenced by his newly colorful flow - on tracks like the expertly-produced synth-bounce jam "My Time" and the feel-good dancefloor-burner "Throw It in the Bag," he trades in his usual dead-eyed aloofness for something resembling dynamism. It's not enough, though.
In an era that will probably be forever defined by stagnancy and cynicism, the last thing we need as a soundtrack is bland corporate rap&B. Fab doesn't agree, apparently, because he just released a CD with 16 songs worth of it. Many of the hooks are toothless declarations of hip-hop dominance (or bland romance cliches, take your pick), the beats boring Top 40 synth-rap from mainstays like Jermaine Dupri and J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League. We need something creative, resonant, and rejuvenating - everything that Loso's Way isn't, basically.
The highlights here are few and far between, but when they arrive, they offer promising glimpses at what we could have gotten had Fab been willing to indulge in more of the snarky slyness of his verse on Lil Wayne's "You Ain't Got Nuthin." On "The Way (Intro)," he rides StreetRunners' sweeping, horn-helmed beat with the kind of slithering punchline flow that hits you right in the gut. The synthesized brass-march of "Salute" (which also contains the most exciting Lil Wayne cameo in recent memory) sizzles with Southern soul, while "Stay" enriches due to its warm, fatherly reflections and gospel-esque Marsha Ambrosius vocals.