This game might b-b-body ya. Few artists have the capacity to stay relevant for more than a year or two in rap. Most rap careers are a sickening cliche at this point. We all scrutinize intently, witnessing the rise and (often gleefully) watching the inevitable fall followed by the banishment to “Whatever Happened To Land.”
Outlasting a lot of the people he first appeared with like Nate Dogg (God rest the dead) and Lil Mo (God rest her career) John Jackson aka Fabolous is still making his rounds. With a career that dates back to the late 1990s thats quite impressive especially considering that Fab is rarely mentioned with the likes of Jay-Z and Nas as NYC’s premiere lyricists. But the kid can spit, that much is undeniable. Couple that with his willingness to employ new methods of connecting with his fans like his web series and his constant Twitter updates, and you’ve got a good understanding how someone keeps themselves on the rap radar.
Before blowing out the candles on one of several birthday cakes he’ll be enjoying for his 35th year on this planet, Fab took the time out to talk with SOTC at Greenhouse about all things New York and more specifically, Brooklyn, and his latest conquered domain, the blogosphere.
Happy Birthday Fab. You kept it really NYC celebrating in Gotham.
Yeah, I’m actually doing a few shindigs for my birthday. Some stuff goin’ on in L..A. later this week to celebrate too but I wanted to celebrate in New York for my actual birthday because I’m so N.Y.
How N.Y. are you though? Where’d you go to high school?
I went to a few high schools. First I went to Art & Design for a little bit because I wanted to be a visual artist. Then I went to City AS, and finally I ended up at the old Boys and Girls High School in Bed Stuy. I’m an all around New York City dude.
You’ve embraced the blog life pretty enthusiastically. Why?
A lot of people don’t know my feelings about shit I fuck with, they just know my music. I wanted to show where I’m from, things from my city. Like the song “SoNY.” The hook is not a diss for Weezy. It’s just about repping New York, standing up for New York. At the same time I’m helping heads who aren’t from here to understand the hustle and bustle of the Empire State.
Why feature restaurants though?
We’re actually releasing the second one this week. We’re featuring RGP this time around. I just wanted to do this because a lot of people in our culuture don’t know spots like that. They go to same places. So I wanted to advertise some dope parts of New York. It makes even more sense with Hurricane Sandy having hit. I want people to see the city as far as its still shining.
So did Sandy impede your ability to vote?
Not at all. In fact I drove from New Jersey to go vote in Brooklyn. I could’ve stayed in Jersey, but I have a thing about going to my old hood to visit. So I voted in the school across from my projects. I never had a problem out there so it feels great going back. Just seeing how excited and proud my hood is of me. I still have ties to that community. I mean, my mom still volunteers at the polls. Did you suffer any loses during Sandy?
I was lucky. I lost power but I had the generators going so I was ok. It was my first time under those types of circumstances. I’m still dealing with the whole gas dilemma. But my family is OK. My sister had to stay with me but thank God we were safe for the most part. No flooding or anything like that just lost power.
Having grown up in Kings County, do you like the new Brooklyn better than old Brooklyn?
Not necessarily better, but I think the whole Barclays Center is remarkable. Even traditional people have to admit that. I own a suite there so I’m there a lot and I see a lot of just ordinary neighborhood people there and they’re happy to be a part of something. I like the whole energy it brings to the borough. I think it’s a good evolution for BK. Things have to change eventually. Of course no one wants to see people ran out of their houses, but at same time you can’t be against new construction and new elements in the hood. Frankly, I’m right on the line of old school and new school when it comes to the New Brooklyn. I’m middle school.
So I guess this means you’ll be rooting for the Nets?
Yeah for sure. Like I said I bought a suite there so I go there to rep. But I still got love for the Knicks. Melo and Amare are my boys, but you know getting a team in your home town is great. The best thing about Barclays is that new money can have a shot. At MSG those suites have been locked in for years. They’re set in stone. At least now new money can get suites and floor seats.
Lets talk about music. Tell us about the Soul Tape 2
Well, last year I did the first Soul Tape as a vanity project. At the time I felt like rap was too ratchet so i wanted to offer a different alternative. People gravitated to it so I wanted to do a second part. Now ratchet has become the new mainstream so again, I just wanted to offer something to counter that. Plus it’s the Holidays. People want to chill with their family and listen to chill music so the timing is good. Plus, I like to do a Soul Tape and No Comp tape to show that I can walk that line.
True. So Fab, I heard Fab wasn’t even your rap name at first. Clue mistakenly heard you say that was your name or something no?
(Laughs) Yeah I rhymed something like “Fabulous vocabulous…” and he thought I was working my name into the rhyme. Back then I was going by my hood name which was “Sport.” It was just my hood nickname because I sported fly stuff, but it was just too simple. Actually I didn’t have an official rap name yet when I met Clue. My name is John but there were too many Jays. So Clue mistook it and not having a name it just kind of stuck and evolved to the way it’s spelled. I would’ve never picked “Fabolous” as my name. I’m a rapper from some projects in Brooklyn so I never would’ve picked that on my own. People wanted the hardest name out back then.
So last question isn’t so fun. Does the Love and Hip Hop and its spin off show bother you because your baby mother is on there talking about your private affairs?
Yeah, that’s why I don’t involve myself in it. You’re entertaining people with your personal life. For her she’s using it as a stepping stone for other things so that’s cool with me. But things get out of hand and the producers put you in situations that will boost ratings. I’ve become like an invisible character on the show because they talk about me all the time. I feel like they’re trying to lure me in to defend myself. I’m not a kid though, so that doesn’t work with me. So to answer your question, there are a few internal gripes, but at the end of the day I’m pretty solid on working things out with my family rather than defending myself to the blogs.