F.A.B. may be riding a yellow bus to school, but he brought his
homework. The Oakland disciple of Mac Dres Thizz Entertainment and
Hyphy movement is backed with knowledge of grassroots marketing, social
awareness, and a history of the rap around him. After five
years of regional building through DIY releases, the 25 year-old struck
big in 2006 by becoming one of the newest Bay stars to link with a
major Atlantic Records. Like many artists entering corporate music,
his release was pushed to the back of the bus. But as The Yellow Bus Rydah gets its wheels, SMC/Universal stepped in with The Baydestrian, an appetizer album that F.A.B. proclaims has the same energetic devotion as its follow-up entrée.
Mistah F.A.B. talks paperwork and Panther Power with AllHipHop.com.
Just days after he reportedly proclaimed out with the old, in with the
new, in another interview, the rising rap star clarifies his respect
for elders, bigging up a few neighborhood acts that held down the Bay
in its darkest hours. Though his music gets you dumb, Mistah F.A.B.
helps readers and listeners get smart.
AllHipHop.com: Looking at The Baydestrian,
how much of this is a set-up for the Atlantic project? And when
Atlantic signed on, how much did it expedite your process with
Mistah F.A.B.: Atlantic has a lot of [artists] over there that a lot of
their time and energy is goin into. So I basically asked them for the
authorization to do an independent project to help both of us out.
Itll help build on my regional buzz, and help capitalize off of the
national buzz that Ive been building. They gave me the authorization,
which was a beautiful thing since they didnt have to do that. So this
one was me just wantin to show people in the Bay area that look, Im
still workin for yall; Im not just gonna sit back and wait. Heres
some songs to hold you guys over. But me, Im the type of dude where I
dont ever want to half-ass do something; I put my heart into this just
like I do with all my projects. People are receivin it well great
reviews. I definitely want people to focus on this as they anticipate The Yellow Bus Rydah.
AllHipHop.com: In terms of having the Fontana/Universal distribution,
this is arguably your biggest release ever. Never before were kids in
Cleveland able to run into a store and readily find your material
Mistah F.A.B.: Definitely. The distribution on this one, through
Fontana, gives it nationwide appeal. People will have access to this
album that they didnt with Son of a Pimp.
Its a growing stage for me. Im very grateful to have the opportunity
to drop something. There are a lot of artists whove never had the
privilege of dropping an album. The way my deal is structured, Im
getting money off this. If I sell any, Im getting plenty. [Laughs]
AllHipHop.com: You said authorization from Atlantic. Weve seen this before, whether with Saigons Warning Shots
on Sureshot Records or last months Joell Ortiz album on Koch. But do
you think theres a point where if this picked up strongly and you
sold plenty, Atlantic would catch feelings?
Mistah F.A.B.: Nah, I think Atlantic is business-minded. Look at what
theyve done and their success rate. Im pretty sure that if this album
catches on and starts a buzz, Im pretty sure theyd get involved. The
contract is structured to where they still have the rights to several
songs on here, so if the songs blow up, they can use them for the
Atlantic project. Were keeping it business, theres no personal
feelings in this. I have a beautiful staff and a great lawyer.
AllHipHop.com: Your grassroots marketing is one of the best today in
Hip-Hop. Without relying on labels, youve imaged yourself quite well
with the bus pictures, catch phrases and so forth. How did you create
that approach and how do you use it?
Mistah F.A.B.: Whatd Jay-Z say? That marketing plan was me.
[Laughs] Yeah man, I realize that imaging is one of the best tools of
marketing. People today want to see something they can identify with.
My target market and my target audience… I really approach this for
the kids. I want the kids to stay in school, and show kids that theres
nothing wrong with growing up and being yourself. Kids today grow up in
front of the TV, thinkin that what they see on there is real, as
opposed to the reality that most of these cats on TV are fakin it. Be
yourself, man. Its alright to have fun, this is what I do. But I also
throw jewels on em, and they subliminally learn, then they consciously
Its like watching The Simpsons. Now that Im
older, I realize that they were attacking some political stuff. If a
person whos really socially conscious watches The Simpsons, they get it, while a kid is just being entertained.
AllHipHop.com: I can relate to that. Years later, Im still learning
things from a lot of MCs. However, we dont live in a climate that
keeps albums anymore. What are you doing to ensure that a kid will
still keep your record on his or her shelf in five years to get these
Mistah F.A.B.: Stayin current, man. A lot of artists dont have that
ability. What I mean is continually giving them something. You have
artists like Too $hort, LL Cool J, Jay-Z the list goes on, of people
who continue to reinvent themselves, Okay, this is what I identify
with. As long as I can keep givin people something to identify with
when it comes with ear-candy, [Ill be okay]. I try to attack issues
that the listeners are dealing with on a daily basis. Some of them may
be demographically bound, some of them are a nationwide thing.
AllHipHop.com: A lot of your buzz has to do with you being a
hand-picked representative of Mac Dres legacy. In terms of his label
Thizz Entertainment, whos running that now? And whats your
relationship with his family?
Mistah F.A.B.: Thizz Entertainment is run by the same people it was run
by in Dres life. On his behalf, his mother runs his share; Wandas a
beautiful woman. Shes about her money; shes getting her money. She
honestly doesnt want to tarnish her sons image, so theyre gonna pull
back on a lot of stuff that gets released on Dre. Curt Nelson, who was
his right-hand-man, still runs the label; we have a great relationship.
We both realize that how Im moving is how Nelly went: he moved and
then brought back the rest of the team. Were just trying to cultivate
everybody to become relevant artists.
AllHipHop.com: I see this with J Dilla and Mac Dre. Both were
underappreciated in their lives, but it became commonplace to praise
them in their deaths. Some seem sincere, and some dont. As somebody
who was there for those underexposed years, how does it make you feel?
Mistah F.A.B.: Like you said, are people sincere when theyre doing it?
The main thing is you have to let a legend be a legend. An icon is an
icon. Sometimes it takes a person to leave the podium for people to
give them the recognition they truly deserve. Malcolm X was a wonderful
leader, but nobody truly recognized his importance until he was
assassinated. Then everybody said, He was the same as Martin [Luther
King Jr.] People rode with him and followed him, but after he died
both sides, the Left and the Right had to give him his due.
AllHipHop.com: Im glad you bring up Malcolm. Oakland in particular has
a rich history of Black Power. You said you want to give these kids
something. Do you touch on issues weve heard from folks like Paris or
Mistah F.A.B.: My issues have no color barrier. What I do want people
to know is that I come from a family of Left Wings and Right Wings.
What I mean by this is I come from pimps and players, and I also come
from [Black] Panthers and political people. Having that involvement and
having that upbringing, Ive realized that sometime my issues do have a
Black tone to them, because I come from that pain and struggle that [my
ancestors] went through. In todays society, the segregation lines are
no longer visible, but theyre still [there]. I have to address those
Being in the Bay area, the demographics are so multi-faceted; its a
melting pot. We have so many so many nationalities growing and gelling
together. So race will definitely not be an issue especially since
when I go to a show and 90% of my fans arent Black.
AllHipHop.com: Great point. Crunk and Screw both proved very commercial
from White audiences. It could be argued that both movements lost their
edge in the wake of that. As many Whites I know love E-40, The Pack and
you, is Hyphy at risk of getting bastardized?
Mistah F.A.B.: No. What I realized what pretty much everybody realized
is that in the Bay area, we grew up with pretty much all races. Its
nothing for us to have a White potna and be like, Thats my n***a! In
some cases, the other people are more Hyphy than us. I think we embrace
our fans to the [fullest]; I dont think race is an issue here.
AllHipHop.com: In a recent interview, you said out with the old and in
with the new in reference to DJ Shadow and Del the Funkee Homosapien.
I have to be honest and say that really offended me as a lover of
Hip-Hop. Real talk, if it wasnt for DJ Shadow telling me about you
years ago, I wouldve never been hipped. Why shouldnt that support go
both ways? Just as some critics claim that E-40 reaped the credit due
to Mac Dre for Hyphy, very few people are acknowledging the fact that
Richie Rich was rappin about the sideshow way back in 1989.
Mistah F.A.B.: Its crazy because that so much
controversy, and that was actually worded wrong. I grew up on
the Richie Riches; if you listen to my song Sideshows, I say The sideshow is not like it was with Richie Rich.
Thats on my album. Im with Too $hort every day. Im with Tajai,
A-Plus, Casual every day! I actually work out of their studio, the
Hiero studio. So wow how could they it wasnt worded like that.
What I was saying was the mentality of listeners today is that they
dont do their research. They dont know where things come from. You
can have a song that was hot last year, and someone can sample that
song and todays generation will think its new. You can be like, No,
thats from the Ciara song.
AllHipHop.com: We saw that with Nas Thief’s Theme and Hip Hop is Dead
Mistah F.A.B.: Thats the same beat [Salaam Remi] did [two years] ago!
The same look. What I meant by the quote was thats todays music
listeners. They dont care about the who did this and who did that.
Thats the minds of the youth. In order to understand the minds of the
youth, you have to relate to them. And I relate to them. I understand
what theyre talking about, regardless if I agree with it. Because
without knowledge of previous things, we wont understand what to do
and what not to do. Learn from our history, it helps better us. Like I
said, I deal with the Hiero camp every day, and a lot of cats that laid
down the bricks for me to walk here.