Fabolous

Real Talk

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AllMusic Review by

It was entirely possible that the first single from the third Fabolous album would be a club track or a soft-styled pop-oriented number aimed at the female audience. "Breathe" is nothing like that, the roughest chart hit of Fabolous' career. All grit, no gloss -- Just Blaze works a chest-cracking break, a needling piano run from '70s art rockers Supertramp, and a doctored vocal sample (top that, Kanye West). Whatever flashes of high promise Fabolous hinted at before are fulfilled and then some, his slithery voice intensified and commanding like never before. Two lines into the first verse, the track shows all the necessary signs of being a hip-hop classic -- one that fills all other MCs with envy while sucking the energy out of every other maximum-rotation radio hit. "Breathe" has the same dwarfing effect on the rest of Real Talk, and noticing its 13-spot placement on the album does nothing but raise the false expectations of first-time listeners. On most other releases, "Breathe" would be slotted second or third, not nearly so deep and de-emphasized. Tucking it near the end turns out to be a smart move, because an early role in the track order would've given the album a quick drop-off. Throughout, Fabolous once again spreads himself too thin. He's versatile, sure -- he is capable of branching out to several styles, but this overvalued trait is traded for a steep cost. Erratic and neither convincing nor satisfying from track to track, the album strolls through another mixed bag of satisfactory-to-strong crossovers, factoring in the South, the West, the silky, the grainy, the laid-back, and the amped-up. A pile of producers weigh in, including the Neptunes (who go one-for-two), Scott Storch (ditto), Trackmasters, Flame Throwers, and a handful of relative newcomers. There's enough quality material to help fill out a Fabolous best-of, but the touch-all-bases formula inhibits the album's potential of being any better than Ghetto Fabolous or Street Dreams.

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