Def Jam Presents Fabolous
Punchline assasin. Club anthem author. Fashion influencer. Social media sensation. Content curator.
For over 20 years, Fabolous has worn many (fitted) hats as one of hip-hop’s most versatile and elite talents. He’s been able to weather trends, set styles and endure the turning tables of the industry. All the while the Brooklyn native has proven to be as adept as changing with the times as he is at transforming them.
The results speak for themselves.
Two platinum albums, two Grammy nominations, one gold album, six Top 10 hits and the blueprint for mixtape mastery.
Born in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn and raised in New York’s notorious Brevoort Houses, John Jackson got his start as Fabolous Sport, a name with a nod to the borough’s street history and his own confidence in his witty style. As a teen he became known as a prodigious freestyler and earned real estate on mixtape mestro DJ Clue’s tapes after a series of searing raps on Hot 97. The buzz led to a deal with Clue’s Desert Storm label and the eventual release of his first LP, 2001’s platinum-selling Ghetto Fabolous.
Fabolous followed his debut album with Street Dreams (2003) and Real Talk (2004). The success of both projects (platinum and gold certified, respectively) solidifed him as one of hip-hop’s premier lyricists. While he notched heavy radio play and his material was a staple of nightlife (“Can’t Let Go,” “Baby” and “Breathe” are cheif among his hits), Fabulous noticed the game was changing. Technological advancements were making it easier to distribute music to fans at a faster rate and the demand for new material was intensifying. Rather than place a single freestyle or remix on a DJ-powered cassette mixtape, Fabolous rallied his Street Family crew together for a full-length collection on a CD hosted by Clue. The project, Loso’s Way: Rise to Power, bolstered Fab’s standing among his peers and his influence—along with 50 Cent and Cam’ron—would later be found in Drake, Kendrick Lamar and the next generation of MC’s who adopted the album format for their own mixtapes. Fabolous’ next, 2007’s From Nothin’ to Somethin’, his first for Def Jam, would be the first project of his to top Billboard’s rap album chart. The album’s priority single, “Make Me Better,” featuring Ne-Yo, became the best-selling single of Fabolous’ career, earning a double-platinum certification.
Never one to rest on his laurels, Fabolous would further take control of his career in the new decade. In order to flood the streets with more material he alternated his discography entries between official albums and mixtapes. With this strategy in place, Fab was approaching his commercial and creative zenith. The Loso’s Way album earned the rapper his first number one on the prestigious Top 200 chart. But it would be a pair of mixtape series, both conceptual in theme, that would cement Fabolous’ reputation as an all-time, historical great.
With There Is No Competition, There Is No Competition 2: The Funeral Service and There Is No Competition 3: Death Comes In 3’s, Fabolous was able to “trumpet his status” as an MC killer, said MTV’s Mixtape Daily. XXL named the No Competition series among the greatest mixtape series in hip-hop history. Meanwhile, Pitchfork praised The S.O.U.L. Tape trilogy—with its sample-heavy composition— as “go-to” listening. In addition to putting pen to pad, Fabolous also curated the entire experience for each project himself, from art direction to music video treatments. That detailed precision proved fruitful as hip-hop entered the streaming era. Loso’s next two commercial releases, both of which were heralded by fans and critics alike: The Young OG Project (2014) and the collaborative Friday On Elm Street(2017), featuring Jadakiss, provided audiences with narrative content complementary to the musical score.
An early adopter to the digital space, Fabolous championed his lifestyle approach by way of his MyFabolousLife blog and he boasts a combined social media reach that exceeds over 14 million followers, who tune in for his acerbic commentary. In addition to his recording prowess, Fabolous has long been a style trendsetter, from his envied throwback jersey collection to his penchant for rocking the latest designer collabs; he’s received fashion coverage from the pages of Complex and Fashion Bomb Daily and in 2017 he was named an official ambassador of New York Fashion Week by the Council of Fashion Designers of America.
Fabolous’s latest release, Summertime Shootout 3: Coldest Summer Ever, marked his seventh Top 10 album debut. Amid the Coronavirus pandemic, the rapper launched the #ColdSummerChallenge for fans to address quarantine time with their own 16 bars. Outlets such as NBC News, Hot 97 and more have covered the challenge.