Mistah F.A.B.: Combat Debriefing

Freestyle battles are not all they’re hyped up to be. The music from the DJ is hard to hear. There is a lot of standing around and waiting. And let’s remember, a true freestyle battle is just that, completely on the spot, nothing pre-written or memorized. As a result, lyrics aren’t always syncopated and sometimes […]

Freestyle battles are not all they’re hyped up to be. The music from the DJ is hard to hear. There is a lot of standing around and waiting. And let’s remember, a true freestyle battle is just that, completely on the spot, nothing pre-written or memorized. As a result, lyrics aren’t always syncopated and sometimes lines don’t even rhyme. Battlers don’t finish their barbs exactly when time expires and the crowd isn’t going to jump in halfway through an artists’ round to chime in with “there ain’t no such things as halfway crooks.” In a nutshell, a lot of the mysticism surrounding Hip-Hop battles is lost fairly quickly.Take Mistah F.A.B.’s recent freestyle battle against Detroit emcee Royce da 5’9”, as part of AllHipHop.com Week when the two squared off in New York at the AllHipHop’s Breeding Ground Showcase and Celebrity Rap Battle hosted by Fatman Scoop.“[As an artist], I have a lot to lose,” says Mistah F.A.B. “And I didn’t want to lose on crowd participation. I’m from the Bay and I’m battling in New York – I already have the crowd against me. We don’t want to see that we got crushed and or [my] career is over; especially when we have a record coming out.”Originally, the battle was supposed to consist of emcees from different parts of the country, and was billed as featuring Phonte of Little Brother, Joe Budden, Royce da 5’9” and Mistah F.A.B. Phonte backed out. Joe Budden’s brother was reportedly shot that very same day and, despite repeatedly stating that he would show, Budden never made it to the event. This left Royce and F.A.B.“For like 30 to 40 minutes we were waiting for Joe Budden,” says Mistah F.A.B. “It’s like if you have momentum at a baseball game, then there is a rain delay and you’re the leadoff batter. You have to wait. I’m thinking, ‘Wow, I have to wait on him? They wouldn’t wait on me.’ But I had to stay focused. I didn’t want to come all the way to New York to come home and tell my mom that I lost. I can’t come back home letting people down.”Even with the delay, Mistah F.A.B. unleashed everything he could think of when the microphone was handed to him. With Chamillionaire, Remy Ma, Saigon and Maino all in attendance, the Bay area artist used his hip-hop contemporaries as the foundation to eventually win the crowd over, and win the battle.“My main thing is looking at a crowd, seeing who is in the crowd and seeing where the people were from,” says F.A.B. “You have to be able to play the crowd in a battle, like, ‘Wow, he said that? How did he come up with that?’ A lot of people don’t do that these days.”There is no downplaying Mistah F.A.B.’s performance anyway one wants to spin it. Royce came out flat and never got the crowd interested in what he was saying. F.A.B. poked fun at all his hip-hop colleagues who attended and kept the audience tuned in to him. F.A.B. says he was a little stunned by Royce’s lines, and says that Royce simply didn’t come to the microphone as hungry as F.A.B. did. Da Baydestrian sat down with AllHipHop.com and broke down his battle, highlighting some of his best punch lines of the event and shed some insight as to how he won the crowd and won the battle. AllHipHop.com: First, you said, “I’m from the hood, even my momma pop guns. The ni**a got shot like Joey brother dunn.”Mistah FAB: That was a crazy line. That was a bitter line. The whole reason we delayed the battle was because [Joe] Budden’s brother got shot. And we had to wait 45 minutes for him. At the end [of the event], I patched it up by asking the crowd to give his condolences to him. I’m from damn near the murder capital of the world. So I know the value of losing someone and what they have to go through. But that line was like, “Come on, Joey, you should be there.” AllHipHop.com: “I’m so high that I roll mountains. Put you in a box and you ain’t going to come out like Saigon’s album.” Mistah FAB: Saigon and I talked for like an hour about that line. Saigon and I are closer than a lot of people think, we’re label mates and we’ve known each other for years. It’s not a cheap shot, but we’ve been waiting for Saigon’s album for three years. And I’ve heard The Greatest Story Never Told and it’s crazy. The content is something the game needs right now. It might sound like a cheap shot, but it’s about trying to get the album out. AllHipHop.com: “I slap dudes, kidnap and clap dudes. And bring drama to any king like Papoose.”Mista FAB: You know the “Drama King” Kay Slay and you know Papoose. It’s some wordplay. Royce also had a line that the crowd may not have understood. He said, “You ni**gas is about as fly as a pair of wings on a pet. If you the king, then I’ll turn you to a King on the terrace.” He was talking about Martin Luther King Jr. and how he got shot on the balcony. At first, you may not understand the words, but I thought that line was crazy. It was he and I playing with our words. AllHipHop.com: “I showed your b#### my chain, she swears to god Shyne got out.”Mista FAB: And then I followed it with, “That ni**ga still locked up. I’m a real bad boy and I’m real racked up.” I think when Shyne gets out he is going to take the game over. It was so unfortunate to see the case get flipped on him. Most of my lines were about New York, so I wanted to get as many New York references I could for my verse. When I said, “You playing around with big thugs, I’ll have your whole city red like when they killed Big Blood,” the people from Harlem jumped up and couldn’t believe that line. [Big Blood was Nathan Hodge, a 38-year-old who died of a heart attack in May 2007] It was red everywhere. I just happened to be in Harlem when he got killed. And it was all red in New York when that happened. I think I won over a lot of New Yorkers. Everyone is trying to party with the south right now, but New York is open. If you can win over New York, you’re going to go places as an artist.AllHipHop.com: “I never live the good life. I got ni**as scared in the hood like that ni**a Suge Knight.”Mista FAB: Regardless of what you say, when you see Suge, you think twice. If someone says he is in the building, you say, “Where is he?” And in rapping, cats are ducking me. Bar for bar, in a freestyle battle I’m one of the best. Cats that want to battle are scared. If you say Suge is here, someone is going to be like, “Where? I’m out.” When you see how big he is, you get scared. AllHipHop.com: “You see the chain. You know the chain glow. Reach for it and I’ll scar your face like Maino.”Mista FAB: It was crazy because I was reading an article on him, and Maino is a real street dude. But he’s got a scar on his face. He had a lot of guys at the event. He’ll scar your face, and he has a scar on his face. But he’s a solid dude. AllHipHop.com: “I’m sick as sh*t. You all ni**as snitch like them ni**as Vick be with.”Mista FAB: His homeboys snitched on him. The case didn’t even go to trial and his boys were like, “He did it.” They snitched fast. And now he has state charges against him. That’s ugly. Someone came up and thought I said something about 50 Cent. AllHipHop.com: “You all ni**as tuck in your chains like I was running with True Life.”Mista FAB: You know he’s the goon. He’s the goon of New York. I’m in his area. I have to respect him. Everybody knows how True Life gets it in. They seen the beast, they seen the smacks. He gets in it. Even just hearing about him, you can’t believe he’s getting it in like that. You want him on your side. You don’t want to go against him. AllHipHop.com: And then you finish off your third round verse by saying, “Plus I’m racist, motherf*cker, like my ni**as from Zulu.”Mista FAB: That was what they were known for. It was a hype thing. In this day and age, you can’t be racist. Where I am from, all of my fans are White, Asian or Pilipino, but rarely Black. But in the Bay, they say ni**a more than Blacks do. They sound like a DJ scratching when they say it. I’ve been going down south lately and seeing blatant racism, like Jena 6. We don’t see that we’re I’m from and you don’t tolerate it. But I don’t judge anyone on his or her colors.