Pay Attention, Son: A ’90s Guide to Fabolous’ ‘The Young OG Project’

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Can we preach a bit? The 1990s were a blessing for hip-hop. Icons were created and key categories on rap’s checklist—lyrics, production, flows, metaphors, uh, swag—received an upgrade. While the genre grew for the good, Brooklyn native Fabolous took notes and blossomed into one of the game’s better technical MCs. With a worms-eye view of street struggle and wordplay far better than given credit for, the kid who debuted on DJ Clue mixtapes immersed himself in the ’90s for The Young OG Project, released Christmas Day. The album isn’t a dated journey to a past decade though. It’s a just-right mixture of then and now. We’ve been banging the project since its release and broke down some of Loso’s ’90s references. Why? Because not everyone is up on Henry Hill.

Song: “Lituation”
Sample: Lauryn Hill “Lost Ones” (1998)
Reference: Fab taps into his inner thespian with the “Lituation” visual by playing Frank White—also one of Biggies aliases—from the 1990 flick King of New York. Loso also flips a metaphor using Rafer Alston (Skip To My Lou), a ’90s street and NBA baller (“…And we skip to my lou in that new Wraith.”) See what he did there? Nice. He keeps things aged adding Brand Nubian, to the mix. Check Lord Jamar and Grand Puba’s callout.

Song: “All Good”
Sample: The Notorious B.I.G. “Juicy.” (1994)
Reference:“All Good” opens up with that moving intro from Biggie’s 1994 hit, “Juicy.” Also check the Goodie Mob, metaphor (She in Encino with my goodie mob…”. Most entertaining is the mention of Henry Hill—former mobster-turned FBI informant—from the classic 1990 mob flick Goodfellas.

Song: “Ball Drop”
Reference: Boosting. A popular term for stealing in the late ’80s with the the rise of Brooklyn’s Decepticons gang (A violent collective with a Lo Lifes sub-gang notorious for robbing and running out of department stores with Ralph Lauren gear), the term bled into the ’90s. Here Fab addresses style jackers: “When niggas stole my style I ain’t stress the boostin’…” Also check for the nod to DMX’s “Ruff Ryders Anthem,” one of the illest rap songs of 1998.

Song: “Bish Bounce”
Reference: During the ’90s, “Bounce” was a slang word used when making an exit or asking someone to stage left ASAP. Roger & Zapp can be credited with “More Bounce To The Ounce” but Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre were heavy users of the slang. Fab also borrows Houston’s Chopped & Screwed formula cooked up by the late Houston DJ Screw.

Song: “Rap And Sex”
Reference: The chorus on “Rap And Sex” is lifted from Loso’s Brooklyn OG Jay Z and his 1998 track, “Nigga What, Nigga Who.”

Song: “Gone For The Winter”
Sample: “The Thief of Baghdad” by Lee Erwin, famously flipped by DJ Premier for Nas’ Illmatic classic, “Represent” (1994)

Reference: Fab raps: “Put it to your mouth like Cutti did to Anthony.” Remember the 1995 movie Dead Presidents? Here’s some context for that line. Cutti (Clifton Powell) is a d-boy that put the four-pound to Anthony (Lorenz Tate). FYI: Cutti was knocking off Anthony’s wife while he was called to defend his country. How’s that for service.

Skip past the Big and Kim reference (self-explanatory) and focus on “Anfernee” Since Fab is from where they cross over and clap boards, he flipped a clever Penny Hardaway metaphor: “You give to niggas and they forget your philanthropy/ You didn’t have a penny to your name Anfernee.” Before Penny Hardaway was an NBA analysts, he was a do-it-all point guard, drafted by the Orlando Magic in 1993.

Song: “Young OG”
Reference: Loso raps: “They ain’t never won no rings, but be mad at Horry.” Robert Horry won back-to-back championships with the Houston Rockets in 1994 and 1995. Big Shot Rob would go on to win seven championships total with stints with the LA Lakers (3 chips) and San Antonio Spurs (2 chips).