Yesterday, as we crossed four States in record speed and I decided that Gary, Indiana was not a place I was interested in combing back to soon, myself and my road-tripping passenger grappled with the issue of the road trip soundtrack. Mitigated by the fact that we had to keep both front windows open for the entirety of the journey in an effort not to asphyxiate ourselves in a car whose airconditioning leaves a lot to be desired, we were on the hunt for tunes that would be instantly recognisable (and thus worthwhile over the buffeting headache of winds passing through the cabin at 80mph), not too noisy (in order not to exacerbate combined problems of heat and irritation after 11 hours behind the wheel) and preferably with some throwback value because, after all, that’s what great road trip soundtracks are all about. As we finally discovered the joys of cruise control, Fabolous’ ‘Into You’, from his second studio album, 2003’s ‘Street Dreams’, fit the bill for all of the above. It is, in a way that not many could have predicted back in the early 2000s, timeless and fairly universally enjoyed. Somewhere between Lancaster, Pennsylvania and Toledo, Ohio, Fabo was our saviour.
The track name, above, is listed as featuring either Tamia or Ashanti because, unusually, both female RnB songstresses appeared on one version of this track – Tamia on the single version, Ashanti on the album. I had only ever known the Ashanti version but Tamia’s addition on the single makes sense when you realise that it is ‘So Into You‘, the seventh (!) single released from her 1998 eponymous debut that underpins ‘Into You’. The Canadian RnB singer hasn’t put our a record since 2003 but, now married to an LA Clipper, probably hasn’t needed to. Ashanti, who I briefly profiled a year or so back, puzzled as to why she had faded to become such a second-class RnB citizen completes the ‘Into You’ curse which has taken down every female vocalist associated with it. Fabolous (who has sort of rebranded himself Loso – pronounced Low-So – in the interim) is the only one to have emerged unscathed from the whole thing as he readies ‘Loso’s Way 2’, his sixth full-length release out in June, and yet, he seems oddly hamstrung as an artist. The Brooklyn emcee has constantly wanted to be defined in more thug terms than he is but may be most remembered for this stellar addition to the RnB cannon.
‘Into You’ was likely a shot in the dark on ‘Street Dreams’ – an album otherwise populated by tracks titled to indicate at a hip-hop artist still trying to prove himself: ‘Bad Bitch’, ‘This Is My Party’, ‘Not Give A Fuck’. As much as Loso might have yearned for a different persona, it was ‘Into You’ and another Just Blaze-produced track named ‘Can’t Let You Go‘ that were released as singles from the album. Among a suite of tracks typified by braggadocio and swagger, Fabolous’ most successful songs were those that showed, anachronistically and probably humiliatingly for the rapper, he had a softer side. To be sure, ‘Into You’, which samples The Commodore’s ‘Say Yeah’, has elements of machoism to it. The line ‘as long as when I slide up into you, you growl’ hints at some more sensual double entendre behind the song’s title but any real sexual aggression is attenuated by the sound of chimes and the coos of ‘ooh’ and ‘baby’ that punctuate the track. Between rest stops and the bright lights of Chicago, Tamia’s borrowed chorus, Fabolous’ inexpressive but smooth delivery and that slinky bass line were enough to keep us going. Even if Loso might be embarrassed that this is his biggest contribution to the road trip soundtrack to date.
Fabolous – Into You Ft. Tamia/Ashanti