I mentioned this mixtape when reviewing that Clue tape a few weeks ago, when Fabolous stole the show with a B-grade freestyle on the Bitches Ain’t Shit instrumental. I’m not going to pretend that there’s much to say about Friday Night Freestyles, because either you’re open to the idea of Fabolous talking shit over classic instrumentals, or you’ve probably already closed this browser window/tab. Me? I’m more than open to this kind of music.
Like most punchline rappers, Fabolous is been most impressive when spitting aimlessly, and that’s all he does on this tape. The farthest he goes towards a message is hating golddiggers on Black Girl Lost, and I hate everything about that song. Where Nas’ song on the same beat felt like a genuine lamentation, Fab’s punchlines ruin whatever earnestness that may have been present, making the whole song feel very shallow. Fab jacks three other classic Nas beats from Illmatic and It Was Written, and all of these songs fail miserably because Fab and his guests couldn’t come near to standing up next to Nas and his guests at their very best. The fact that whole sections of the original verses were jacked only makes the comparison that much more harsh. Imagine Jadakiss dropping a random, middling verse where AZ’s verse was on Life’s a Bitch, starting with the same opener as AZ then rapidly shitting the bed, and you’ll know the disappointment that these songs engender.
But besides those mistakes, this is a great mixtape for people missing the New York bullshit of the early 2000s. Fab’s beat selection is perfect, mostly pulling from classic 90s East Coast hip-hop like Mad Lion’s Take it Easy and Mobb Deep’s Shook Ones. My favorite is definitely the jack of Wu-Tang Clan’s Ain’t Nuthin Ta Fuck Wit’, where he raps
All my niggas bring em home, R.B.I. chicks
All you niggas talk to the FBI Quick, (rats)
Sprinter full of Splinters
I was gettin paper like a printer through the winter
Weather break I might get the Bent or the Aventa-
Dor, more, adventures of a sinner
Big nigga ballin’, big figures callin’
She hooked on me, she a big-dick-a-holic
So if cleverness about balling, sex, and gangsta boasts is your thing, then boy does Fabolous have a mixtape for you. There’s literally nothing else here, but I’m happy to have it this way. Sometimes I just want to enjoy lyricism unhindered by attempts to convey great meaning, which in mainstream hip-hop, means somebody is getting shot or their girl is getting taken. That may sound stupid, but when Fabolous is doing it on classic beats, it works great for me!
Highlights: Just listen to the first 9 tracks below, then skip to #14 and continue on. If you don’t have time for anything else, play Ain’t Nuthin’ Ta Fuck Wit’.