Street Dreams—Fabolous (2003)
“My thing on this album was to prove that I wasn’t a one-hit wonder. I wanted to prove that point, but I didn’t want it to be my main focus. I was still growing as an artist, but I also wanted to continue my commercial success. At this time, the only thing that could help you move on and keep making albums was to make hit records. So on Street Dreams I had two songs that were big radio records—‘So Into You’ with Tamia and ‘Can’t Let You Go,’ which I did with Lil Mo. And they were both a little bit more female friendly.
To tell you the truth, I was nervous about making songs like ‘So Into You.’ I was just hoped that my mixtape fans would be able to survive and bear it and still listen to my harder stuff on the mixtapes. I’m a diverse artist to where I make certain songs for different lanes. I think as an artist, if people respect your artistry they will respect you being able to cater to different ears. And that’s one of the things that have helped me stay around. I also had a female fanbase. It wasn’t like I was 50 Cent and I was doing all these gangsta songs and popped out of nowhere with ‘So Into You.’ I was always able to be female friendly, have something for the clubs and for the streets.
We had a few other records that we could have went with as the first two singles, but as a whole we ended up moving on those two records first because of how we wanted to keep our relevance on radio and on the video channels. You have to remember, music videos at that time was in a different place. Music videos on TV today are not as strong as they used to be. Videos have become viral and people watch them more on YouTube and the rest of the Internet. But at this time, this was still when MTV and BET were very strong in the market place of hip-hop. Getting played on those [platforms] was one of the things you had to do to make sure you had a successful run with your album.
This was also a heavy radio era. The radio stations were controlling hip-hop more, so you had to have these big radio songs. This is where Ja Rule’s success came from and even someone like a 50 who had a crossover hit like ’21 Questions.’ Any hip-hop artist that was smart at that time noticed this was going on, so we went into the studio and knocked out some radio joints.
When it came to the ‘Keepin’ It Gangsta’ remix (featuring Jadakiss, Styles P, Paul Cain and M.O.P.), I just wanted to deliver the best I could lyrically. Early on, I listened to Jadakiss a lot. Like I said, I was a big Clue mixtape fan so I heard Jada throughout his time as a mixtape artist. I’ve seen him with the Lox; I’ve seen how he blossomed and went solo; I’ve seen all that stuff. I think we approach verses in the same mindstate of giving our best. We both have witty punchlines and have related to our fanbases pretty well. But I think our styles and deliveries are very different.
But wasn’t so much about being competitive with Jada, Styles, Paul, or M.O.P. It’s just that I’m not comfortable giving anybody a half-ass verse. Sometimes when I do verses for people it can take me longer than people may think. Sometimes shit is rolling, and other times there are things going on in my mind. I can hear myself saying, ‘This is not something I want to go out with. Let me attack this harder.’ And then sometimes another MC’s verse is hotter than mines. You have to be really comfortable in yourself to not let it get to you. Yeah, you don’t want to get your ass gashed to pieces [laughs]. But it’s all about coming with your best.”