Mistah F.A.B.: Da Baydestrian

Say whatever you want about The Bay, but the region’s rappers are experts at finding their audience. From hometown hero Too $hort to left-field wordsmith’s like Del tha Funkee Homosapien, the boys from Oakland are out to do their own thing whether the rest of the country is paying attention or not. Determined to be the next Bay artist to make it on his own terms, Mistah F.A.B. Da Baydestrian (SMC Recordings) hits the shelves as a warm-up for the bigger things to come.Typically, opinions on Bay area rappers are hard to separate from opinions on the region itself, but F.A.B. positions himself to avoid being pigeonholed. The opener/title track goes straight to the hyphy sound, but it doesn’t take long to see that he has broader goals. Throughout, trademark hyphy elements are sprinkled on more traditional West-Coast backdrops for a more widely accessible sound. Those who are looking for something to play while they dance around a moving vehicle will find it mixed in (“Dem Cars,” obviously), but equal time is given to more dark and personal concepts. The self-titled Prince of the Bay defends his crown both with a sharp skill for story-telling (“Jamonie Robinson”) and a respect for straight-up lyricism (“100 Bars”).Regardless of how Da Baydestrian compares to perceptions of the region, the album still suffers from the trappings of releases from all across the country. Lyrically, F.A.B.’s not bad, but he’s not especially good either. “Fight Music” isn’t much better than any of the hundreds of other “get it crunk” joints you’ll hear this year, and “Get This Together” sounds too much like a leftover Young Jeezy track. The Bay is known for bringing a unique perspective to Hip-Hop, but too much of this album leans on formula to get the job done. Departures from the expected material are a good idea on paper, but if F.A.B. is simply going to trade one obvious move for another, he’s better off just sticking to the script.Da Baydestrian isn’t a classic, but it does serve its purpose by giving us a sneak peak at the long anticipated Da Yellow Bus Rydah. Combined with the motivation provided by moving to the next level, Mistah F.A.B.’s broad sound certainly has potential to make him the next big So-Cal artist. For now though, Baydestrian is probably best left to those who’ve been behind him all along.