FABOLOUS Ghetto Fabolous (Desert Storm Recordings/Elektra)
When work took me to America recently the same radio station that brought in Howard Stern every morning also aired a terrific hip-hop tune on a many-times-daily basis, something that stood out like the proverbial sore thumb against the rather less terrific hip-hop the airwaves seemed flooded with. It took a while to determine the originator of that tune, but it turned out to be by a young Brooklyn rapper called Fabolous, contained on his debut album "Ghetto Fabolous".
The good bits first: "Can't Deny It", that single, is close to astonishing, powered by an elastic-band bouncy primitive electro soundtrack, featuring everybody's favourite guest rapper Nate Dogg and apparently ripping its chorus from 2Pac's "Ambitionz As A Ridah". There's something cripplingly addictive about this track that I can't quite fathom out; it's appeal is far more than superficial and skin deep. There's also some other fine music on "Ghetto Fabolous", particularly the nostalgic childhood reminiscences of "One Day", an object lesson in looking after your own. And amidst the credits you'll find the handiwork of high-priced producers such as Neptunes and Timbaland, if these things matter to you.
But on the other hand much of "Ghetto Fabolous", mindlessly enjoyable as it may be, comes across as Jay-Z having a bad day, the killer licks being strictly rationed and the thick wads of dextrous verbal jousting being too heavily encoded to be truly memorable. Nevertheless, there's hand-edged talent at work here (he earned a guest spot on the new Mariah Carey album, incongruously enough), and bearing in mind that my previous decade's radio hit - hearing "Beautiful Love" on the school bus - led to a lifetime of Julian Cope fandom it seems like Fabolous may be here for the long-haul.