Stuntin’ To Death
Mistah F.A.B. is the self-elected “spokesperson of this hyphy shit.” A disciple of the late Mac Dre—who many credit as the Godfather of the hyphy movement—the Oakland native released his first indie album, Nig-Latin, in 2002. That was followed by 2005’s Son of a Pimp, which included the Bay Area smash, “Super Sic Wit It.” The following year, the hyphy movement exploded nationwide thanks to E-40’s hit, “Tell Me When to Go.” Suddenly, Oakland became a hip-hop hotbed, prompting labels to jump on the hyphy bandwagon. Taking note of his talents and regional success, Atlantic Records quickly scooped up F.A.B., who was set to make his major label debut with Da Yellow Bus Rydah. However, the album’s lead single, “Ghost Ride It,” got surrounded in controversy late last year when two men died in separate incidents of ghost riding—the practice of dancing alongside or on the roof of a moving car that was shown prominently in F.A.B.’s video. As a result, BET and MTV banned the video from rotation, and any momentum the song had was further stifled when Columbia Pictures threatened to sue F.A.B. for using the Ghostbusters car and logo in the clip. While Atlantic waits for the dust to settle, the 25-year-old MC decided to hold fans over with Da Baydestrian, an independent album on SMC Recordings dropping on May 15. XXLMag.com caught up with Mistah F.A.B. to discuss both of his albums, today’s generation of hip-hop fans and the future of hyphy.
The media looks at E-40 as the spokesperson of hyphy. Would you say he revived the Bay Area and Mac Dre’s legacy?
Not at all. Mac Dre worked the Bay and until this day, his presence is felt. E-40 capitalized [by] having a big mic. He did whatever he had to do to create a visual for it on a nationwide scale…and he did a hell of a job. But the Bay Area will always be Dre area. Keak Da Sneak is the king of the hyphy movement and E-40 had the ability to get it blown up. It’s not like we should be mad at E-40, but he definitely didn’t revitalize Mac Dre.
What about those kids who died from trying to ghost ride the whip? Do you think hyphy takes having fun to dangerous levels?
I love what we do, but yeah, a lot of people are hurting themselves and dying over this shit. Aside from [the car incident] you got people on drugs, wanting to show how hyphy they are. They’re willing to exercise their ignorance. People are willing to go to that level, like, shooting fools in front of the police.
How do you keep your music intelligent but hyphy at the same time?
My new album, Da Baydestrian, is party music that still carries a political message. I try to do [party songs] like Afrika Bambaataa or Rob Base and still say something with some substance. It comes naturally for me. My aunt and uncle were Black Panthers. My daddy was a pimp. I’m stuck in the middle. I’m able to do the hyphy music, but I’m also able to talk about a lot of political things that’s going on. But this [album] is actually a prequel to my Atlantic [Records] debut, Da Yellow Bus Rydah. This is just an introduction. My main thing is to show the world what the Bay is all about. We’re not just one thing. For a lot of people, hyphy music has left a bad taste in their mouth. They haven’t gotten a chance to see its significance because of false representation. On Da Baydestrian, I’m tryin’ to give people a sense of the real Bay.
Your video for “Ghost Ride It” was pulled from MTV and BET after Columbia Pictures threatened to sue you for using the Ghostbusters logo. Nobody thought to get clearance first?
We got permission from the owner/builder of the Ghostbusters car. He personally lent it to us for the video. But technically, Columbia Pictures owns the right to the logo and all that. Whatever, it was great promotion. They should’ve just got us to redo the theme song for the new Ghostbusters movie they got coming out. I guess they didn’t want to be associated with the ghost riding stunts. In the end, I was the victim. [Laughs]
How do you feel about artists like Del, Hieroglyphics and DJ Shadow? They helped put the Bay Area on the map as well.
I’m a firm believer in [the saying], out with the old, in with the new. I personally like Del, but I can’t tell you the name of one of his tracks. My generation and my fans don’t give a fuck about Del. I pay the older dudes their respect, but I feel like time gotta move on. DJ Shadow took me on tour all around the world with him. I love him for that. But if my fans saw DJ Shadow scratchin’, they’d be like, “What the fuck is that all about?” You gotta understand; I’m of the 2Pac generation. People can’t get mad at us, like, “You don’t know your history.” ’Cause when y’all was scratchin’ records, I was 10-years-old. We don’t understand the culture. We’ll be like, “Who the fuck is Prince Paul?” That’s our mentality. I just turned 25, so I rep for 25 and under.
True, but don’t you have to show respect for the pioneers before you?
I can’t slander yesterday’s hip-hop. I know without them it wouldn’t be possible for me to do what I’m doing. But the music isn’t just hip-hop anymore, it’s subgenres—hyphy, crunk, bounce. We all fall under the hip-hop tree but the different branches got different levels that make new trees. People between the ages of 15 and 25 have entirely different feelings about what hip-hop is. Hip-hop has changed. Big Daddy Kane and Kool G. Rap were ridiculous, but for that time. It’s a new day; so don’t get mad at me. I don’t give a fuck. I know I’m making history. I’m just tryin’ to do me.
What about people who say the hyphy movement has already died down?
First off, hyphy is not dead. It’s young music, but it’s already evolving. It just changes forms and comes back. On Da Baydestrian, there’s only like three or four actual hyphy tracks. The rest is something else…. it’s like hip-hyphy, a mixture of the traditional hip-hop sound and hyphy. When you mix them together you have something that’s clearer… an evolution. I’m an artist that’s [made] connections with people like Planet Asia, Murs and Zion I. But I’m also the spokesperson for this hyphy movement and the new face of it. I’m able to put the two together. I’m able to look at the bigger picture and still have fun with it.