15 December 2017

REVIEW: Fabolous & Jadakiss - Friday on Elm Street

On Black Friday most people woke up to new game systems, TVs, Bluetooth speakers, phones and fresh gear. I managed to cop a PS4 and some thangs. But on Friday morning as I logged into work from home, I also unwrapped my pre-ordered purchase of Friday on Elm Street. The previously titled Freddy vs. Jason album has been buzzed about for well over a year. Fabolous has been locking down the mixtape game since the turn of the century (with a handful of solid studio joints). And Jadakiss' catalog as part of the all mighty LOX since the late 90's, and his solo career since '01, have cemented his legacy in the game. So to say expectations were high for this collab would be an understatement. Fab might have enjoyed more commercial success than Kiss, but Fab's core fans know the Brooklyn emcee is not a one dimensional commercial artist. So we have two strong lyricists who styles should complement each other. But I am always interested in the actual pairings in these types of projects. Kiss is clearly the better emcee (agree to disagree if you think otherwise, but peep his catalog and get back at me), so I was actually very curious to see how Fab would fare. Y'all know the drill, let's get into a few tracks and see how this tag team turned out.

A few days before the release of Friday on Elm Street, we got a teaser trailer (video below). We start the album with the "F vs J Intro" track, which uses parts of the female voice over from said trailer. The intro is broken up sonically into two parts: first is Fab's half, and Jada handles the second half. Both emcees channel the supernatural characters they represent. Fab, as Freddy Kruger, starts the track with sinister bars that take shots are other emcees. He doesn't just beat all his challengers, he strikes fear in their hearts. As such a powerful villain, Fab looks around the landscape and realizes he is untouchable. AND THEN THE BEAT SWITCHES. Jada attacks the beat with aggressive and violent metaphors. Jada paints vivid and graphic pictures of his victims and their demise. Jada as Jason Voorhees spits bars that, like Fab, assert his dominance among other emcees. Producer DJ Tedsmooth even sprinkles (or another word that goes better with a horror movie themed album..showers?) in a few "KillKillKill" echoes that mimic the "ChChCh AhAhAh" (I've been told/or read that it is actually "JaJaJa SonSonSon") from the Friday the 13th movies.

With a strongly thematic album like this one, I didn't really expect too many songs to veer away from the cohesive "look and feel" of the project. But "Talk About It" is a great example of two artists who understand the podium and power (and responsibility) they have. Hip Hop is many things. With many sub genres. But one of the core characteristics of rap is shining a light on current and paste events in society, being a journalist of the streets. Primarily events and situations dealing with minority communities. With Teyana Taylor on the hook, Fab and Kiss address issues affecting our country the last couple of years. Touching on topics that range from: cop killings, drug dealings, broken school systems, rape/abuse, Bill/Hilary Clinton, guns, race relations, prisons, voting, medical insurance, demonstrations and protests, the National Anthem, equality, Colin Kaepernick, Instagram, MAGA and our current president. Both emcees sound  an alarm and ask for a call to action from the listeners. While actions are more important than words, they are aware that actions start with a plan, dialogue, and/or conversation.

Choosing Freddy Kruger and Jason Voorhees as the subject matter to be the inspiration for the album was a gamble. But one that paid off. The main reason being that they really didn't force the theme. So really it's a thematic album, but..not? Besides the intro and few mentions here and there, you can't really tell it's a "Freddy/Jason" inspired album. I don't really see this as a bad thing, but I can see how people might feel that that makes the album disjointed. If you were to listen to a single track with no context or content of the rest of the album, you would think "oh, this is a Jada joint featuring Fab" (or vice versa). Personally I didn't really want a whole "horror-core" album that is over saturate their bars full of blood, guts and gore. Nor did I want lazy album with entire tracks devoted to horror movie tropes and metaphors. Out of the 12 tracks, I REALLY like 9. I could have done without "Stand Up", "All About It" and "Stand Up (Remix)" (really no need for two of these, might as well just got rid of the original track). These tracks sound the way you would expect from songs that feature Future, French Montana, Yo Gotti and Jeezy (well, not so much Jeezy). But if I'm being honest, I don't dislike them as much as I normally dislike similar sounding tracks. And at the gym, these joints def give you that hype energy. So with a few drinks in me, and in the right setting, I might could actually almost maybe enjoy them. But besides these tracks, the album is laced with socially conscience bars, not just the aforementioned "Talk About It" track. Other tracks like "Soul Food", "Principles", "I Pray", and "Nightmares Ain't As Bad" are DOPE. And the Fab-less track, "Ice Pick", gives us the classic back and forth from Jadakiss and Styles P. It might be one of the best tracks. No offense Fab. "Ice Pick" is dedicated to Ruff Ryders A&R Jay “Icepick” Jackson who past away this year. But there were a few tracks where I thought Fab KILLT the joint. "I Pray" being one of them. So if you were expecting tracks that strictly adhered to a horror movie theme, you might be disappointed. But if you're a Fab and Jada fan, and enjoy songs that sound like Fab and Jada tracks, then you probably need to take Friday on Elm Street for a few spins. 

Peep trailers and the album below.

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