Beats, rhymes and life are three of the corners where hip hop intersects. Few other TV shows have been able to cover all of these angles in-depth and authentically quite like REVOLT TV’s “Drink Champs,” which thrives on its candid conversations with the biggest and most influential figures in the game. In honor of such a one-of-a-kind show, REVOLT will be recapping each weekly “Drink Champs” episode, so you can always catch the gems that are dropped in each lit interview.
In the latest episode of “Drink Champs,” legendary rapper Fabolous joins N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN to talk about his illustrious career and what he’s got cooking up next. Making his debut via radio in 1998, the rapper spent the subsequent years building his buzz via guest verses and mixtape appearances before unleashing his debut studio album, Ghetto Fabolous, in 2001. Known for his ability to craft hits while displaying his lyrical aptitude, Fab has spent the past two decades at the forefront of hip hop, and has a track record that trumps most. Now a tenured MC in the game, Fabolous continues to keep his foot on the pedal and show no signs of stopping his hustle anytime soon.
To help give fans a recap of the conversation, REVOLT compiled a list of nine things we learned from the Fabolous episode of “Drink Champs.” Take a look at them below.
1. His Early Rap Influences
Bred in the Bed Stuy section of Brooklyn, Fabolous reveals one of the local legends who first sparked his aspiration to rap. “I think the first artist that inspired me was Kane, Big Daddy Kane,” Fab remembers. “Before then, I was just a fan of hip hop. So, everybody who just had a good joint you was [listening to], but Kane was the first person that I started seeing like... style, swag. The girls liked him, he still was hard, he had jewelry... he was ahead of his time.”
2. Being Challenged To A Battle In His Projects
One of the most respected power-brokers out of the New York rap scene, Big Fendi has been closely associated with a number of stars. Fab recalls his first encounter with him and the circumstances behind it. “You know how I met Fendi? Fendi tried to bring some niggas to my projects to try to battle me,” Fab reveals. “This is me just getting a buzz, I’m hot in the hood... I might’ve had a few Clue freestyles... He brought his three [artists], guess who the three guys was? Red Cafe, Gravy and Q. I said, ‘I ain’t battling y’all niggas. Go and let my lil mans, and ‘em go at y’all niggas.’”
3. The Backstory Behind His Introduction To DJ Clue
Fabolous’ partnership with DJ Clue, who discovered the rapper in 1998, helped thrust the Brooklynite into superstardom. Loso shares how he met Clue and how their alliance came to be. “Through my managers at the time...” he shares. “They knew Clue. I met them in my hood in Bed Stuy and at the time a couple of guys was coming around saying they could get me on. So, they was another group of those guys. So, I would let people have their opportunity, ‘Let me see what you can do ‘cause everyone telling me they can get me on. And at that time, too, getting on, there was no internet. So, it was more about who you knew and who they knew was Clue. Clue at the time was Clue, he had the Monday Night Mixtape, had the mixtape game. It was a big deal. So, they brought me up to Clue.
4. On Bridging The Gap Between The East And The West
”Can’t Deny It,” the Nate Dogg-assisted lead-single from Fabolous’ Ghetto Fabolous album, was a breakout hit for the rising prospect. The song also marked one of the first high-profile collaborations between artists from the east and west coasts, which Fab admits was wholly coincidental. “Shit was just patching back together,” he says of relations between the two coasts. “That was one of the illest parts about that record because before that time, it was a little gap in between. And I didn’t know that I was really doing that until it happened and I was like, ‘Damn, niggas haven’t been really fucking with each other since the Big and Pac shit.’ And I don’t even know if Nate thought that deep into it, too. The kid that produced it was from the Bay and then Nate jumped on it, and then I made it my first single, and then people kinda connected the dots of that. I didn’t see it. I definitely wasn’t looking at it like, ‘This is gonna bring the west and the east [back together]. I wouldn’t even lie and say that.”
5. What Sparked The Beef Between C-N-N and Junior M.A.F.I.A.
The shootout between members of Capone-N-Noreaga and Junior M.A.F.I.A.’s entourages outside Hot 97 was one of the more notorious instances of rap beef spilling over into the streets. During the interview, N.O.R.E. shares what spurred the bad blood between the two factions. “Kim did ‘Quiet Storm,’” he explains. “Ironically, this is why I never knew why it was ever beef, ever. Alchemist produced ‘Bang Bang.’ That’s Mobb Deep’s producer...Alchemist recommended we put a girl on there. This is why Mobb Deep never took it personal, it was just [Lil Kim]. Obviously there’s only two girls in New York City at the time, Kim [is] already on the people who’s considered our competition, Mobb Deep [record]. And Foxy that’s my sister, I felt like that at the time... So then, Fox does it and then that was it and I guess they [Junior M.A.F.I.A.] took it personal because we let Fox say what she wanted.”
6. On His Awkward Conversation With Kid Cudi
One of the more interesting revelations from Fabolous’ visit to the “Drink Champs” was his awkward exchange with Kid Cudi, who claims to have co-produced Fab’s 2010 hit, “You Be Killin Em.” “You know who sneaky called me about that record? Kid Cudi,” he shares. “He like, ‘Yo Fab, I did that joint with Ryan Leslie, I ain’t got my credit or my money.’ Cudi, bruh... why you on my line with this. ‘I’m supposed to have credit or money or something.’ You gotta relax, Kid Cudi. You blocked and everything right now... I gotta unfollow you and everything. ‘I don’t know why you calling me. That’s not even my call.’ The song is a hit already, what you talking to me for. ‘I’m bout to go onstage right now, I’ma hit you back, matter of fact.’”
7. Eve’s Involvement With “You Make Me Better”
”Make Me Better,” Fabolous’ 2007 collaboration with Ne-Yo, remains one of the most successful records in his discography. However, the Brooklyn rep reveals that the beat for the song went through a few hands before ultimately ending up in his. “I think they made it for Hov,” he says. “But, I think it was too girly for Hov. Here’s another sneaky thing behind that shit, though...Eve had the record. Timbaland made this joint and she had a whole different record. So, when we’re about to put it out, Timbaland’s like, ‘Hold up, I think I gave that beat to Eve.’ We’re like, ‘What?’ So, we hit Eve up, but she was cool. It was a single for us. This is a go, but for her, she said it was like an album cut. She really didn’t know and we went to dinner, and she was like, ‘Y’all can have the record and it’s all good.’ Imagine my catalog without ‘Make Me Better’ in it.”
8. On Balancing Relevancy And Respect
Despite having more than twenty years in the game under his belt, Fabolous has managed to avoid being cast off as a relic from a foregone era and continues to maintain cultural cache among fans of all ages. When asked about his ability to survive the times, he chalks it up to his willingness to embrace the new generation while sticking to his guns. “I can’t even tell you a recipe for it,” he says. “Somebody told me that I bridge the gap between the two. I guess where you can say we’re seniors and juniors in high school, and then you have like sophomore and freshman. So, if it’s a senior and I’ma junior, I’m still in between.
9. On The Evolution of Torch-Passing In Hip Hop
In 2019, it’s not odd to see a legends like JAY-Z and Nas publicly back an up-and-coming rapper not directly affiliated with them as an heir apparent. However, during the ‘90s and early aughts, the rules of engagement were vastly different. Fab gives his theory on why rap artists are more comfortable passing the torch on to the next generation in comparison to past years. “I think niggas still was so young that it wasn’t no passing [the torch],” he explains. ‘I’m still trying to be the nigga, I’m still trying to be the man, how I’ma give you the torch?’ Now, when you 40 or 45 or 50 or whatever, you [are] ready cause you ain’t even playing in that field anymore. If you’re 25 and I’m 21, we still is kinda in the same field. Or I’m trying to get where you at and you know I’m trying to get where you at...”