Mistah F.A.B. Understands Where Kanye West Was Coming From With Slavery Remarks
Kanye West earned a degree of forgiveness when he apologized for offending people with the controversial slavery remarks he made this past spring. One person he need not worry about offending, however, was the Bay Area's own Mistah F.A.B., who understands the thinking behind Yeezy's head-scratching opinion.
"I understand what he said when he said it," F.A.B. said during a recent stop by XXL's Manhattan office. "We was talking about it yesterday, I was like 'Man, it's hot as fuck, imagine picking cotton in this weather. Imagine it being 120, 130 degrees—you picking cotton in the field. Nigga you gotta kill me. I'm running away 'til I don't have no limbs or nothing."
Yeezy shared his eyebrow-raising comments, which seemingly fall directly in line with F.A.B.'s way of thinking, during an appearance on TMZ Live back in May. In a heated moment, 'Ye claimed that slaves had a say over whether they remained in shackles.
"When you hear about slavery for 400 years, for 400 years?! That sounds like a choice," Kanye said. "Like, you was there for 400 years and it was all of y'all?"
While F.A.B. seems to agree with the premise of Yeezy's comments, he's not blind to the control mechanisms that helped to keep enslaved people on plantations.
"Fear is a cofactor," says F.A.B., who dropped off his Year 2006 album at the end of August. "And Caucasians, since Black Americans have been in America, have utilized fear as a psychological triggering mechanism to continue to keep programming us. So the programming of the people [has] always been first by fear. Then they put it in by disciplinarian acts that show people, 'This what can happen to you,' which is another sign of fear."
"The fear factor is amazing," F.A.B. continues. "No one can understand what it does to your psyche. The choice that you choose is a forced choice. But I feel like if you had a freedom of choice, which, Harriet Tubman and everyone else who she felt would wanna have the same choice, you gon' wanna run away. You gon' wanna get away at all costs. You're gon' try your hardest to get away."
The Dope Era rhymer says that some slaves had gotten "complacent" with life as a slave thanks to the stability of room and board. He sees similarities between what he sees as slaves' complacency and the struggle of his own brother, who became uncomfortable with the rapidly evolving outside world when he returned home from serving a 13-year prison sentence.
"He was like, 'My nigga, this shit is different,'" F.A.B. says of his brother's experience. "The roads are different, life is different. That's scary, because you feel like you in a time warp. That's scary. He went back to jail, and he's okay with being in jail, which is the crazy part. He knows jail. He knows that plantation. They don't know freedom."
With all of that in mind, F.A.B. understands Kanye's controversial stance, one from which 'Ye didn't truly backpedal when he apologized during an interview with a Chicago radio station last month.
"The way that [Kanye] explained it, to some, came off as being insensitive," F.A.B. says. "It came off as him just floating and gloating in his success. Not being empathetic to the ancestors, but I understood, because here we have images and [literature about] what Harriet was able to do with escaping, with Frederick Douglass was able to do with escaping."
Ultimately, F.A.B. believes it was Yeezy's identity that made his comments hard for people to accept. "People that came down with 'Ye, it was only because they felt like it was just 'Ye and one of his rants," he says. "But there are several people that have said the same things that he said, just worded differently. Marcus Garvey said the same thing. 'How long will you allow yourself to be slaves? We got a whole country that's to ourselves that we can go to, but you choose America.'"
Mistah F.A.B. is more than a year removed from the rebuilding of his Oakland-based retail store, Dope Era. Since that time, he's relocated the spot to the city's downtown area. When he hasn't been helping operate the store or promoting his Year 2006 album, he's been on a promo run for his new book, D.O.P.E. Era The Book. The new piece was edited by Dream Hampton, who famously helped Jay-Z pen his 2010 book, Decoded.
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