When “Can’t Deny It” was first released, it wasn’t the cool, cocky delivery, chipped-tooth flow, or Nate Dogg’s Makavelian hook that captured everyone’s attention; similarly, “Young’n (Holla Back)” was always more than the sum of its slick rhymes and chipper Neptunes beat. Fab’s incredible wordplay and lush beats on “I’m So into You” and “Can’t Let You Go,” two crossover tracks that made 2003’s Street Dreams so great aren’t even the best part of Fab. Real Talk’s “Breathe” was a hot song, with an insistent Just Blaze production, but all of that is just icing on the cake. The thing that is most fascinating about Fabolous is how he spells his name: F-A-B-O-L-O-U-S. Where does that first “o” come from? What drove him to turn fabulous into Fabolous? Not all questions have answers, but Fab is unquestionably a veteran in the game now—quite possibly the only punchline rapper left.

Sun., Aug. 24, midnight, 2014