I have this thing where I like people while they are underground or semi-famous or when most people dislike them, and once they hit the mainstream circuit, it’s a total turn-off. There are exceptions, such as Lupe Fiasco, but all in all, mainstream makes a clown out of good talent, especially rappers.
But recently, I’ve been having this problem; this eerie, daunting feeling that I just can’t shake. I know it’s kind of deep when you’re just speaking about music, but it’s kinda like the feeling “Murder Was the Case” gave me when I was about eight years old—it gave me night sweats but I refused to stop listening to it.
I have “relationships” with rappers. (Hey, most hip-hop heads do.) It’s not anything sick I should see a head doctor about; just a musical relationship. Recently, my “relationship” with Fabolous has been altered. Mainly because of his latest album, Loso’s Way. This album proved to me that the man has a mean hold on his style of rapping and that will probably be his key to longevity.
I mean, seriously, I’m not saying he’s the greatest or even most lyrical, but he is definitely top-tier material. My opinion of him has been solid since Lil’ Mo was wearing colored cornrows, but my conflict with my passion for his music is this: he’s a bit of a pillow-talker and he’s crazy big on punch lines. OK, he makes a lot of bedroom rap, and usually, this is a sure way to get on my “not worth another listen” list, but something indescribable about his flow has a hold on me. I absolutely abhor rappers making love songs; it doesn’t make me feel sexy, it simply makes me feel uncomfortable and awkward about listening to any more of their music.
But oh no, not Loso. He has a way of getting his point across with the right amount of tact, frankness and Brooklyn charm. It’s his slick metaphors really, and if you listen closely, he says some things that make you think twice and even when you do, you still almost miss it. I love the way his lyrics are almost way over your head. And the way he tells a story in his songs is a rare quality in mainstream rapper; he has the makings to be one of the greats in hip-hop music. (Refer to Real Talk if you want to hear a new-school classic.)
And he is underrated, but that’s necessary for me to remain a loyal supporter. The ratings and seeing him all over the screen will taint it for me. While he does have fame, it’s almost like he’s a mystic figure. You know Fabolous’ face, but do you really know who he is? It’s like Taraji P. Henson’s career: it’s there, it has the talent, but it’s still like you’re the only person who knows her.
But that’s OK, because reaching household-name status has never really meant anything in the world of hip-hop. What matters in the culture is this: talent, freestyle skills and originality. I’m not willing to debate that Mr. Jackson has all three. And he continues, album after album, one freestyle after another, to rap with a vengeance. His hunger captivates me; he got my vote, and I’m feeling his campaign.