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There's nothing wrong with being a singles act, but that doesn't stop performers like Fabolous from trying to show they can do more than make radio fodder. For proof, check out Real Talk, which places a couple of first-rate hits alongside some ill-conceived misses.

Although the opening track, a spoken-word effort titled "Exodus," has the feel of a major statement, it's basically a canard, because Fabolous doesn't even deliver the material himself; a performer called Black Ice does the deed. Granted, the main man dominates the subsequent action, but his familiar flow can't enliven imagination-challenged material like "Gangsta" and "Ghetto." As for "In My Hood," Fabolous tries to up the drama quotient by importing a children's choir -- a ploy about as fresh as century-old doughnuts.

On the plus side, "Breath," currently on an airwave near you, uses a piano figure nicked from Supertramp's "Crime of the Century" to ultra-catchy effect, while "Tit 4 Tat" is a surefire followup, thanks to infectious production by the Neptunes. Unlike much of Real Talk, these cuts really are Fabolous.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

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