Behind the Eminem’s, Kanye’s, Jay-Z’s and Lil Wayne’s of the Hip Hop world is a group of rappers that have made it big yet don’t hold that international superstar status. [twitter=myfabolouslife]Fabolous[/twitter] has been a part of that group for some time. While popular song like “Youngin (Holla Back)” and “Cant Let You Go” have gotten Fab some limelight he’s more likely to be seen on the BET Awards than the Grammy’s. Loso looks to capitalize on the success of his previous mixtapes, such as the There Is No Competition series, with a new concept mixtape, The S.O.U.L. Tape. Is S.O.U.L. another ill-fated concept attempt like his 2009 Loso’s Way, or has Fabolous brought soul back to Hip Hop?

Production/Beat Selection: 9

Personally, I’ve always found live instrument beats or samples more appealing than 808 or drum kit heavy production. If you are like me, then you should love the production on S.O.U.L. Tape. From the soultry piano on “In the Morning” to the playful string instruments in “Leaving You.” The soul concept is spot on in the production. While the music is no Coltraine, the overall style of the mixtape is very relaxed and I’m sure will be used in the seduction of many young ladies. Like his other mixtapes there is a plethora of original beats with a few popular beats (Wolf in Sheeps Clothing = Devil in a New Dress, J. Cole’s In the Morning, Wiz’s Phone Numbers) thrown in.

Stand out tracks: “Leaving You,” Cardiak produced “Yall Dont Hear Me Tho,” “Riesling” & “Rolling Papers”

Lyrics: 7

There’s always a few givens on a Loso track; at least one trademark “niiiice” and witty punch lines galore. And The S.O.U.L. Tape is void of neither. While we can all agree Fab is in the top half tier of lyricists in the game, many feel like he has yet to evolve his style. Some may argue don’t fix what isn’t broke but every artist should look to improve their skill set. Fabolous continues to drop humorous punch lines and witty metaphors, but has done little to add to his lyricism. While you can see (or rather hear) the evolution across some artists albums or mixtapes, with Fab it can seem like same shit just a different beat. In comparison to the majority of rappers the lyrics of  The S.O.U.L. Tape are solid, but nothing to write home about. They may stand up to Fab standards, but it would be nice to see Loso finally exceed those standards.

Stand out tracks: Vado and Lloyd Banks assisted “Mo Brooklyn, Mo Harlem, Mo Southside” & “Drugs (Do This to Me)” featuring Paul Cain

Songs: 8

With a soul concept it is not surprising that many of the songs content is aimed towards the ladies, And why not? The majority of Fab’s hits have been female orientated. Another commonality among Fabolous projects are the appearances of his Street Fam homies Paul Cain, Freck Billionaire and fellow NY rapper Red Cafe, each of which holds their own on their features without deteriorating the quality of the track. I would have liked to see some more diverse content, but it doesn’t get overly repetitive. Like I said before, the songs would be great to play when you’re with your girl or trying to score wit some dime.

Stand out tracks: “Really Tho,” “Pain”

Conclusion: 8

I feel about this mixtape the way I do about most Loso projects; solid but nothing overwhelmingly good. The S.O.U.L. Tape is sure to get some solid rotation in Hip Hop fans iPods but won’t be anyone’s’ Mixtape of the Year. The question is how long can Fab put out good material before fans start looking for something great? I don’t see Loso falling of the radar anytime soon, but it would be nice to see him add some more weapons to his arsenal. He has found a path that works for him but he needs to take some more left turns to reach that next level. At least this time Fabolous succeeded in making a true concept album. This is definitely something I see myself chillin’ wit a bad bitch and fat sack too. My favorite tracks are “Really Tho” and “Mo Brooklyn, Mo Harlem, Mo Southside” and “Leaving You.”

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Download: Fabolous – The S.O.U.L. Tape here.