A few months ago, AllHipHop.com caught up with Mistah FAB for a detailed and in-depth look at the charity work that he’s doing to help his community out in Oakland, CA. The outspoken rapper/activist can be described as controversial for some of his opinions, and he is often criticized for them by fans on the Internet – yet he doesn’t let that criticism stop him from saying what’s on his mind.
With his new album I Found My Backpack Volume 2 now available on iTunes, the self-named Fabby Davis Jr. sat down for another conversation with AllHipHop.com to talk about the continuation of his charity work, the new album, and his thoughts on state of the music business.
AllHipHop.com: How did your Thanksgiving Turkey Drive go?
Mistah FAB: It went exceptionally well. It was good to see a lot of celebrities come out. A lot of people walked away with happy faces and full stomachs.
AllHipHop.com: How many turkeys were you able to give away?
Mistah FAB: Approximately 400 to 500. We also gave out 1,500 covers and coats to the homeless.
AllHipHop.com: That’s a wonderful thing. What do you have going on for Christmas?
Mistah FAB: We’re having a Christmas feeding, a tree voucher giveaway, and we’re looking to give out over 500 toys. I spoke to Davone Bess of the Miami Dolphins, who’s also from Oakland. I also spoke to Marshawn Lynch of the Seattle Seahawks, and C.C. Sabathia of the New York Yankees called me last night. They all want to play a major part in the Christmas project. With those guys contributing to it, Lord knows how many toys we’ll be able to give away.
Hopefully we can continue to inspire others to do things like this. Philanthropy is one of the best feelings in the world. I know what it’s like to have nothing and to be given something. To be able to give is one of the best feelings.
AllHipHop.com: Your new project is I Found My Backpack Volume 2. What’s the meaning behind that?
Mistah FAB: I started out as a backpack rapper. I was doing those Wake Up shows with Sway and King Tech – those dudes are underground messiahs and they helped me out a lot. I was becoming dope in the underground world, going from city to city battling and rapping in ciphers. A lot of people used to say that I was only a battle and freestyle rapper, and said that I couldn’t write songs.
Then the Hyphy movement developed in the Bay Area, and I helped to spawn it nationally. Then the criticism went from me not being able to write songs to just being able to make party songs. We did that so dope, it kind of brainwashed the fans and even media to where people forgot about my roots as a battle rapper of real Hip-Hop. I went back to my roots, and I found my backpack. I’ve dumb-downed for a lot of people to get their attention. Now that I have their attention, I’m going to show y’all what’s up.
AllHipHop.com: It must be frustrating being labeled as a certain kind of rapper instead of just being recognized as someone who is versatile.
Mistah FAB: Nobody cares if you can do all sorts of things in today’s Hip-Hop and that’s unfortunate. Certain people just want one thing. That’s the frustrating part of music. Nobody wants to hear a diverse artist. There’s no longer that versatility where you wonder what kind of an album that you’re going to hear from an artist. I bring that to the table. I’m able to do anything, and I guess that’s been coined as my gift and my curse.
AllHipHop.com: Do you think you’ll ever break out to a huge commercial success? Or is that even important to you?
Mistah FAB: It’s not important to me. What’s important to me is feeding my family, being able to do what I love, giving back to my community and growing as a man. Whether I become a mainstream success or not, is not my worry. I don’t owe anybody, all of my bills are paid, and I’ve got money in my pocket. I may not be the richest, but I know that I won’t be the brokest.
AllHipHop.com: I see you constantly updating your Twitter account, talking about the verses that you’ve sold to other independent artists.
Mistah FAB: I make myself available. People ask me why I do verses for $500, and I’m like, “Why not?” You might as well get yourself out to all of the different fan bases that you can. Any money off your talent is a blessing.
AllHipHop.com: That’s a true example of the independent grind.
Mistah FAB: I was raised by Too $hort and E-40. All I know is how to get up and get your own sh*t. F*ck waiting on a major label or a major co-sign.
AllHipHop.com: If a major label deal presented itself again, would you take it?
Mistah FAB: If it was right for me, I’d be stupid not to do it. I signed a deal years ago with Atlantic Records, and I signed a label deal. I wasn’t ready to be a CEO of my own label. I wasn’t ready for a structured label deal. I was like, “I’m signing a label deal, and y’all have an artist deal. I’m a Boss.” I had that deal, but mentally I wasn’t ready to run a label. That’s what the hold up with Atlantic was. Everybody kept asking me, ‘what’s up with Atlantic?’ It sucks that it happened that way, and that I had to learn years later that I signed a label deal without being ready to run a label. That was my fumbling and immaturity. If I could do it again, I would sign an artist deal. Initially you lose because they get more money but I would’ve gotten major exposure and I know the independent game like the back of my hand.
AllHipHop.com: What’s next for you after I Found My Backpack Volume 2?
Mistah FAB: After this album, I have another project called The H.O.P.E. It stands for How Our People Evolve. It’s geared more towards street music and what’s going on in our communities. It’s a more conscious project. What’s so crazy about me is that I have so many different personalities. I’m always shifting. With my versatility, I’m just going to start doing different conception projects.
Another project is The Love-life Alibi’s, all love songs for women. Everyday I’m in the studio. I go to sleep there and wake up and just continually work. I work on ghost-writing for other people or just for myself. I’m going to keep the audience guessing. Who knows what I’ll do next? I don’t even know. I’m going to go be whatever vibe I feel. I can be positive or negative. I don’t want to be boxed in. I’m a human! I will never be boxed in. I have flaws, errors, and faults. There is a good side and a bad side. I’m not going to cover it up.
Rappers are liars. Nobody wants to be honest anymore. Nobody wants to tell you how they really feel. Everybody plays politics, but I feel like once you are in a position, you make your own politics. Don’t hide behind some sh*t. Tell the truth! If that’s how you feel, then that’s how you feel. Nobody wants to be themselves anymore. Let me switch this up and ask you something. What’s Tupac’s mom’s name?
Mistah FAB: What’s Eminem’s daughter’s name?
Mistah FAB: What’s Drake’s mom’s name?
AllHipHop.com: I have no idea.
Mistah FAB: What’s Wiz Khalifa’s daughter’s name?
AllHipHop.com: I don’t know.
Mistah FAB: See what I’m saying? The audience doesn’t know sh*t about their favorite artists anymore. Drake and Wiz are my friends. They are good people. It just seems like with music nowadays, you don’t know sh*t about them!
AllHipHop.com: I heard that you were out at the Occupy Oakland camp. Were you there when the batons started swinging?
Mistah FAB: Of course I was. Anything regarding my city, I’m out on the front lines. I don’t do it for attention. I do it because I really give a f*ck about what’s going on in my city. I have to live here. My daughter has to grow up here. Oakland is such a mess right now because all of the people that become successful here leave and never come back to show what success looks like. So what becomes successful in our mindstate is the people selling dope or these pimps that have these girls out here prostituting. You’ve got guys killing and robbing, because they get all of the money and nice things. Then you’ve got fake a** rappers lying about doing the stuff that they’ve never done.
AllHipHop.com: Drake and Lil Wayne had a video shoot out in the Bay. Did you hook up with them?
Mistah FAB: Drake called and had me and E-40 come out for the video. Drake is a hell of a guy. He’s one of those humans that you don’t meet often. He’s the same guy that I met years ago before So Far Gone came out.
AllHipHop.com: Did you two record anything together while he was out there?
Mistah FAB: No. Him and Weezy just came out and showed love and respect. It was dope to see two of the game’s most successful artists come to our area and reach out.
AllHipHop.com: Thank you for your time, Fab.
Mistah FAB: Yes, sir. Go get I Found My Backpack Volume 2 on iTunes. It features Jadakiss, Noreaga, Talib Kweli, Freeway, Prodigy from Mobb Deep, and Royce Da 5’9”. I’ve got New York and Philly on there. Big Pooh representing the Carolinas. The Midwest represented by Royce. The Bay Area represented by J-Stalin and San Quinn. Los Angeles represented by The Grouch. One of my mentors, Andre Nickatina, is on there, too.
AllHipHop.com: Nobody from the South?
Mistah FAB: You know what? I don’t have anybody from the South. The last one was Southern based, though, with Lil Boosie, 2 Chainz, and Yo Gotti. The next project is going to be dope. It’s going to have Wale, Kendrick Lamar, and a few other guest features.