THE SOUL TAPE 3 REVIEW
Fabolous’ toolset includes a vast array of punchlines, appealing and charming hooks, and an aptitude for picking just the right drum or snare. And recently, Fab has done his best job at showing you his knack for beat picking on the successful, well acclaimed “Soul Tape” series. The Soul Tape series is a treat for any fan of the genre; fans don’t have to pay anything, and the digestibleness of Fabolous coupled with the series’ signature fedora hat feel, fan favorite producer style of soul sampling production aims for an easy listen with any rap fan. There is also an underlying continuation within the series: the beats get lavisher, the features get bigger, the freestyles are dialed down, and the venues on the covers (From the Apollo, to the Beacon, to MSG) grow in size and prestige by every step of the series. And so, back by popular demand, Fabolous shimmy’s down the chimney this Christmas season, as the Soul Tape series returns with another inclusion, this round upping the ante one more time.
Soul Tape 3 opens up with the intro song “Everything Was The Same”, which is a play on the title of Drake’s 2013 album “Nothing Was The Same”, and a freestyle over the Jordan Evans produced “Paris Morton Music 2”. This freestyle track, the only one on Soul Tape 3, contains hindsight only a few rappers as surviving as Fabolous can talk about. Fab is a vet with more than just a few medals in the showroom, but the grandiosity of those achievements have all but lost their luster by now, and particularly so as Fab enchants the situation by laminating a cushy piano track with his grievances and introspects. Fab’s lyrical prowess is also as sharp as ever on this song, as he raps “All ya’ll see is sunshinin’, think I was never shaded/Ya’ think these calendar models is all that I ever dated”. While Fabolous’ fondness of punchlines has often been pointed out as the crux of his music, he is more tasteful this time around as he tones down the acute overtones which often embody the typical crude and lewd “punchline” lyric of today. This song segues into “Sacrifices”, a track which arrives as merrily and sprightly as can be, but a track which tackles far more introspective than frolicking subject matters the song’s production might suggest. It opens up with the lines: “Seeing your family scrambling, that’s sanity damaging/Gotta, make a move can’t just stand and be mannequin”, an exhibition of Fab’s dagger wordplay and rhyme scheming. If any sound embodies the series, “Sacrifices” is it; it’s a lively track with a crooning sample that is accompanied by hard hitting drums that seemingly defy the convention of soft bass instruments which often accompanies soul sampling. The song also exhales an air of groundedness in both the boards and the verses, an air, however, that is quickly whisked away by Fabolous on track 3 “Playa”. The song, which samples Notorious B.I.G.’s “Playa Hater”, has verses that are melodized and hummed, much in the same way Biggie does in the sample track. And from one sampled Brooklyn-MC to to the next, track #5 “The Get Back” contains an eerie, chill arousing version of the piano from Jay-Z’s classic “Dead Presidents” beat, over fleeting southern trap high drums and a plethora of blaring, thundering snares. This song also contains Fabolous’ formal reply to Kendrick’s “Control” verse that was all the rage during the summer months of 2013:
“Just tooting your own horn, do your thing my N-I-G
Whenever you ven aquito that mighty NYC
We gon’ check that name you claim, bring your YAWK and I.D
We take it the wrong way, all gold everything”
While it’s only a commentary on the backlash Kendrick received for his statements and not a retaliation against the new self-proclaimed “King of NYC”, the lyrics provide a type of sage quality, the type you seek from a near middle aged rapper, and a type of conveyance sorely lacking from previous responses and from today’s rappers (looking at you Papoose). Fabolous is also the gracious host for track 7 “The Hope” which features NYC rapper Jadakiss and production from Araabmuzik, the producer who also worked on Soul Tape 2 song “Beauty”, a song which uniquely paired deep, booming drums with a wailing looped high-pitched soul sample. “The Hope” does more of the same, as the pulsating and strumming drums on the song barrages against a hollering voice track and reverberating synths. As The Hope exits with a fade out, the first act of the mixtape bows its head and shifts the curtain for the second troupe that opens and enters with “You Know”, a song which seeks to embody the town car, tip your hat to the door man at the Tribeca Grand experience the series has been known for producing. It also features a hook and verse from ATL rapper Young Jeezy, who with his gravelly voice belts out a melodized hook that takes up much of the song.
The mixtape then enters “Cuffin’ Season”, a song which wholeheartedly epitomizes the Twitter/Instagram culture of 2013 over icy and harsh production, and a song that seeks to disclose the feline intent which has seemingly eluded the so-called “La Marina ballers”.. as the hook goes “These hoes keep calling, I ain’t picking up/Damn, I’m so cold in the fucking winter”. But oddly enough, this persnickety song transitions into the last 3 songs of the tape “Thim Slick”, “Lay Down”, and “Situationships”, songs which rather serve as serenades and toasts to the ethereal allure of Fab’s favorite hookups. As Jeremih sings on the hook of Thim Slick, “Thim slick girls get me every time/Thim slick girls could get every dime”, and as Mack Wilds closes out on “Situationships”, “Somebody gonna be mad if they hear me sayin that/I’m single”, Fab seals the deal with a kiss as he brandishes his sword on what will probably serve as this season’s best mood music.
What is particularly enticing about this mixtape is Fab’s liking for “sticking to the plan”. He only crosses into dangerous or unmarked territory as an artist when something is on the line, which is not so the case of this mixtape. The “sound” of the mixtape is predictable; anyone who’s heard previous Soul Tapes knows what to expect. All 3 tapes are even sequenced similarly, as a song with one subject matter from ST1 or 2 will be duplicated to the next, even on the same track number and with the same formula. And yet, not a single moment lapses on this tape, or any other addition to the series, where the music is dull, cut-and-dried, or mechanical. Really, the only song this tape that surrenders its signature sound is “Foreigners”, an understandable digression which pairs Chicago drill instruments with epic movie soundtrack strings. Another thing worth noting is the mixtape’s careful timing. The tape is not only short enough for simultaneous playbacks but also long enough for a deeply engrossing listen upon the heavy tracks and even lightheaded enjoyment on the sensual ones. The brilliance of this tape is found in its briefness, and as a rule of thumb, the shorter it is, the more people want it.
Top 3 Favorite Songs: Sacrifices, Thim Slick, Situationships
3 Least Favorite Songs: Foreigners, You Know, Lay Down
How I would have sequenced this project differently: No other way, the songs are sequenced perfectly
The chances of you liking this project: 89%
The Verdict: 4.5/5