Fabolous & Jadakiss
Friday on Elm Street (released November 24, 2017)
Fabolous and Jadakiss have more in common than you realize.
They’re both considered New York hip-hop royalty. They’ve both known for their quick wit and jaw-rattling punchlines. They’re both revered for their guest spots and have made their mark on mainstream airwaves and the underground mixtape scene.
And despite their accolades, both have yet to deliver that one classic, defining album that we know they’re capable of.
Friday on Elm Street aims to remedy that.
Originally called Freddy vs Jason (before its Black Friday release triggered a name change), Friday on Elm Street has seemingly been in the works for years now, hoping to capitalize on the success of other collabo projects like Future and Drake’s What a Time to Be Alive, Future and Young Thug’s Super Slimey and Future and Gucci Mane’s Freebricks 2.
UGH, Future sure loves copying off of his friends’ homework. But we’ll get back to him in a minute.
Friday on Elm Street sets the stage for two of rap’s most vicious lyricists to don the personas of slasher-movie monsters and slaughter tracks. It’s a cool idea in theory but it’s the execution that’s lacking.
The album opener “F & J Intro” shows a ton of promise. The A Nightmare On Elm Street theme is blended with EPMD’s “You’re a Customer” to provide a chilling backdrop for Fab and Jada to wreak havoc. But besides that one track the horror movie motif is largely ignored (outside of Jada randomly chanting “kill kill kill” like a Jason Voorhees flick every so often). Disappointingly, Friday on Elm Street quickly descends into typical 2017 rap territory, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t highlights.
Swizz Beatz laces “Theme Music” with a warm Marvin Gaye sample, giving flashbacks of Fab’s Soul Tape series. Living up to its name, “Soul Food” is equally soulful, though not as memorable outside of the moment. The album’s most ambitious track is “Talk About It,” where the duo dive into socio-political issues. That’s certainly not unexplored territory, as nearly every R&B singer and rapper we’ve covered all year has spoken out in some form. However, what makes “Talk About It” memorable is instead of spitting empty platitudes, Jada and Fab bring insightful commentary to the table.
Jada revisits his “Why” persona:
Yeah, first thing they say is stop killing
But can we talk about the cop killings?
Before we talk about the crack dealing
They acting like blacks ain’t got feelings
Knowledge of self is through wisdom
So can we talk about the school system?
While Fab brings the message closer to home:
Look, I know y’all tired of talkin and going to demonstrations
But if we don’t speak up, you help the discrimination
We need a one-on-one before it’s goes gun on gun
People skip the front page till they see they son on one
And challenges athletes to use their power as well:
Can we talk how many died for the birth of a nation?
And how this national anthem ain’t worth my ovation?
And if I am standing up, Imma stand up for equality
It’s brutality, we need more than that apology
Can we talk about it, not just artists, but the players too
Y’all on the field, not the mic, but y’all can say it too
But besides the above tracks, there’s not much meat on Friday on Elm Street, with the remainder of the set descending into forgettable mixtape territory. “Stand Up” is no different than the other 32993 trap tracks cluttering mainstream radio, with Future sounding even more bored than usual on the hook. The remix, featuring Jeezy and Yo Gotti, isn’t much better. Swap Future for French Montana on “All About It” and it’s the same story. Swizz’s monotonous hook on “I Pray” does it no favors as well.
I can’t blame all album’s faults on the guest, though. Friday on Elm Street’s biggest crime is the surprising lack of chemistry between Loso and Kiss. There’s little spark – it just feels like two guys with verses tacked on the same track. Don’t get me wrong, those verses are usually solid and there are a few quotables here and there (“You do dirt, you get dirt, that’s how germs spread/Squash the beef with a funeral, it’s confirmed dead,” Fab spits on “Principles”) but nothing really lives up to the album’s hype. Even the album’s two solo efforts feel like throwaways from another project, though Fab’s “Nightmares Ain’t As Bad” edges out Jada’s “Ice Pick” thanks to a bit more substance.
I’m sure East Coast mixtape fans will be filling their timelines with bars from Friday on Elm Street for the next week. But by week two, when the novelty of the collabo wears off, there won’t be much here to keep you coming back.
Instead of the game-changing blockbuster we were promised, this feels more like a straight-to-DVD release.
Best tracks: “F & J Intro,” “Talk About It,” “Theme Music”
3 stars out of 5