Fabolous

From Nothin' to Somethin'

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Fabolous' new label, Def Jam, rolls out a wide red carpet for From Nothin' to Somethin', enlisting a great deal of starpower to bolster its new artist's fourth album. Akon, Rihanna, Jay-Z, Lloyd, Junior Reid, and even Ne-Yo (on a track produced by Timbaland) make appearances, while there is room made for past collaborators like Just Blaze, Swizz Beatz, Young Jeezy, longtime cohort DJ Clue?, and the otherwise missing-in-action Lil' Mo. In another sense, it's the same old, same old, with Fabolous covering a bunch of niches: there's the booming, borderline sluggish Southern track (the Jeezy feature "Diamonds"), a couple raucous East Coast bangers ("Brooklyn," "Return of the Hustle"), several R&B crossovers, and a couple melodramatic moments (including "What Should I Do"). Although this is one of the better albums in Fabolous' discography, the guest appearances are overwhelming, and the disc ends up similar to a compilation of Fabolous features, as if all guest stars gathered together and staged a coup. In at least half the tracks, the headliner struggles to reclaim the spotlight, and at times it seems entirely possible that the space is being used for something other than an actual Fabolous album. For instance, Akon not only dominates "Change Up," but two of the singer/producer's artists -- T-Pain and Red Café -- are heard on other tracks. Those looking to the disc for some pure top-form Fab will find a few spots of hotness, especially within "Brooklyn" -- a geographic anthem that outstrips Busta Rhymes' "New York Sh*t." Given Fab's usual kicked-back demeanor, some wordplay is bound to be overlooked (like "They should call me Karat Jeter, maybe Canary Bonds"), but regardless, there is not enough of it. After all, a separation of Fabolous' rhymes from all the guest verses and vocal hooks would result in two EPs: one by Fabolous and another by a mismatched supergroup.

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