Taking a cue from Jay-Z's American Gangsta, Fabolous' fifth studio album is (very) loosely based on the 1993 Sean Penn/Al Pacino movie Carlito's Way. With the focus generally on his incredible flow and knack for wordplay, Fab is better than most at balancing bombastic street joints like "The Way" and "Salute" with syrupy radio jawns like "My Time" and "Throw It in the Bag." The album is a little too uneven to be great, sagging in the second half, but it's definitely another solid entry from one of New York's finest rappers.
"I used to give a f*ck / Now, I give a f*ck less," Jay-Z states on "Success," and here he's abandoned Kingdom Come's beach chair for a spot on a dirty street corner. The album is painted in washed-out grays and dark blues, drained of hooks and informed by the loss and soulful sway of soaring horns and rattling bongos. This is nostalgia as blood lust, gangster rap as social commentary, and Jay wears his politics on his sleeve throughout, aiming at Imus on "Ignorant Sh*t" and licking shots at Reagan on "Blue Magic." This is an excellent return to form.