From Nothin’ to Somethin’—Fabolous (2007)
“Before this album, a lot of things were going on in my personal life. I had got shot and I was going through a label issue where I was leaving Atlantic and looking for a new home. I see some of the guys at the Atlantic now and they always say to me that they were too new in that situation. Real Talk came out and the guys over at Atlantic had just got there and their feet wasn’t really in place. So I had to move from Atlantic over to Def Jam. And waiting for the ink to dry on that process took a while—close to three years. Atlantic felt like they were losing a big artist and Jay-Z, who at that time had a presidential position at Def Jam, was saying he was with it.
But the things I was going through was having a huge impact on me professionally. I got shot and I was arrested with a gun. I was going through the growing pains of being a young adult; of being young, successful and black. You have money, you have girls and you have some of your old friends from your ‘hood hanging around with you and depending on you financially. All of these things were present in my life at that time.
I had a couple of bad breaks, but I stayed level headed because I felt that being a hip-hop artist was more of my career now. I wasn’t just rapping as a hobby anymore. This was something that was taking care of me, my family, and providing jobs for people that were around me. With From Nothin’ to Somethin’ I started taking my life more seriously. That’s where I was mentally. And you could hear it in the music.
I never was shocked when ‘Make Me Better’ (featuring Ne-Yo) became a hit because when I first heard the record I thought it was a smash. I played it for many people in the studio after we did it and they were like, ‘Yo, when is this song coming out? It’s going to be huge.’ It was melodic, but it had a different stripped-down vibe. I noticed in the South that even with all my past radio and chart success, there was period of time where I didn’t have any records out. So when all of the southern artists had come up in the game I kind of had to prove myself to the South and some of its markets. I remember ‘Make Me Better’ being a top spinner in the whole North East getting played 120 times a week, and it ended up picking up in the South. But by the time it was taking off in the South, they had already exhausted the record in the North. That may have stalled me from having a no. 1 record. But that made me understand that while my records still worked, I had to continue to prove myself in other markets now. The music game is changing.
The ‘Brooklyn’ record I did with Jay-Z and Uncle Murda meant a lot to me because I had never did an official anthem for Brooklyn. I was originally going to put Jay and Lil Kim on the record. I wanted Kim to represent from a female standpoint, but Jay was working with Uncle Murda at the time, and he asked me to bring him on it. So what am I going to tell Jay? No [laughs]? Uncle Murda represented Brooklyn as well, so it was a win-win situation. Me and Jay had a cool relationship amongst mutual friends before this time, but we never had recorded together. With Jay, for you to be able to work with him it has to be beneficial to both parties. He has to respect what you do in your craft and where you are going in your career. So Jay was showing to me that he was there with me and that he respected what I was doing for Brooklyn. That record was a great look for BK and also established me and Jay’s future relationship.”