Mistah F.A.B. is a true legend, a staple when it comes to the coveted list of Bay Area rappers. Born and raised in Oakland, real name Stanley Cox boasts an extensive catalog of timeless hits that has transcended generations, including “Ghost Ride It,” “New OAKLAND,” “Super Sic Wit It,” “Callin’ My Name” with The Jacka, and many more.
While most people can associate him with the Yellow Bus during the height of the Hyphy movement, that doesn’t take away from his endless contributions to the community. For over two decades now, F.A.B. has been doing backpack drives and turkey giveaways, even launching his own Dope Era Academy to help inner city kids and the youth.
Mistah F.A.B.’s upbringing in the Bay Area is one that does not go unnoticed, having to break out of the mold of being a product of his environment. Today, he’s a proud father of two, a businessman, and continues to play his part in being a role model for audiences all around the world.
On the 42nd episode of Shirley’s Temple, Mistah F.A.B. discusses being a mental health advocate, Too Short being his idol, making “Life Of Da Party” with Snoop Dogg, opening a nightclub in honor of his mom, launching Dope Era Academy for inner city kids, watching his mom get clean, discipline being a key component in survival, recording “Sideshow” with Traxamillion, The Jacka being his favorite rapper, and more!
AllHipHop: We have a legend in the building.
Mistah F.A.B.: That’s what’s up. Legend? That’s dope.
AllHipHop: Do you wake up in the morning and you don’t think you’re a legend?
Mistah F.A.B.: Nah, I know I’m pretty amazing, but I may not say a legend yet. I’m just an amazing person in my mind. You gotta feel like that. Sometimes, you’re defined by what you’ve overcome. Even if your small steps are something to you that you hold dear, you should adhere to those feelings. Low self-esteem is a form of depression, and many of us deal with a lot of mental health things in the communities and areas in life and in the world in general.
I’m an advocate for high self-esteem. I’m an advocate for mental health and making people feel like the best version of themselves. I always want to put that out in the world, whatever it is that’s aligned with amazing and feeling exuberant. I want to feel that, I want to be that. I want to be the best version of myself.
AllHipHop: Were you always like this? Even in the height of the Hyphy movement, was this always your energy?
Mistah F.A.B.: Most definitely. You had to be able to be different in the areas that we were coming from. Something to stand out a little bit, but it was something that was significant about every individual at that time. And that’s my secret ingredient. It was the energy and the purity, something natural.
AllHipHop: Mental health is a big part of my show. How are you doing?
Mistah F.A.B.: I’m good right now, I appreciate you asking. I think we’ve normalized saying I’m okay when we’re not okay. I’m always a huge advocate of that: telling people it’s okay to not be okay. At this current time, right now I’m actually okay. I’m great. My children are great.
AllHipHop: You got two kids right?
Mistah F.A.B.: Yeah, a boy and a girl. Apples of my eyes man, so I’m good right now. I was talking to Echo about when things are flowing, the consistency brings security and it’s imperative that one goes with the currents of something that’s secure. Those are the secure things in my life right now, remaining consistent, remaining moving. My mobility continues to bring happiness towards me and that’s the trajectory that I’ll continue to follow.
AllHipHop: You were in a bidding war, right? And you ended up saying independent?
Mistah F.A.B.: A few little things. Those are several moons ago, we did some situations. I was blessed with an opportunity from Atlantic Records to give me an opportunity to do some things with my own label. But at that time, being from the Bay Area, a lot of people say they’re independent or that they have their own labels, but it’s more so about hearsay. It’s banter. It’s not oh we got a label, and we have the infrastructure that’s based off what a label really consists of.
It’s the mindstate, an independent mindstate. You move as a renegade, but you don’t have the infrastructure and the tools to conduct a business and a label like you should. Or a successful one. But I was able to link in with Atlantic, and they gave me an opportunity a long time ago to help me stand by, watch and witness what an actual label does. I was able to see that and utilize it and for my own recipe and cook up a gumbo. I’ve been cooking ever since.
AllHipHop: You still stay in the Bay right? And you got a crib in L.A.?
Mistah F.A.B.: Uh huh, crib in L.A. Crib in Atlanta. Of course, I always maintain residency at home. Just moving around, a stable vagabond.
AllHipHop: Did I see somewhere that Too Short took you to Atlanta?
Mistah F.A.B.: Short took me to Atlanta a long time ago, showed me how to move around. I call Too Short pops. He’s a godfather-like figure in my life. I’ve been knowing him since a kid, personally knowing him since 9 or 10 years old. I’ve been able to mirror his movements, mirror everything that he’s done. He’s taken me in, and what better embracing then to have someone that’s done it for 40 years, consecutively and consistently?
Just remains a current, he’s somebody who I’ve always idolized. He’s an idol of mine, as well as a friend and someone who I confide in musically, on a personal level. He showed me a lot of things. I credit him with a lot of the mannerisms that I take when it comes to doing music nowadays. He’s definitely one of those quiet figures that never really gets the accolades or the headlines that he’s deserving of. He’s so humble, but he’s a legend. That’s a legend.
AllHipHop: You guys have hella records together too. You got a favorite?
Mistah F.A.B.: Most definitely. My favorite record, I like to say “Life of da Party,” which was a Snoop Dogg record. The history of that record, it was dope to watch the maturation of it. The story behind it gives validity to the song that much more. We were all hanging out. At the time, we had a spot on 1600 Vine, one of those little buildings down there in Hollywood. We didn’t know that Snoop had a spot there.
We saw Snoop in the hallway, we’re like is that Snoop? Snoopy had on this little incognito costume, came and knocked on the door. We talked, laughed, cracked a few jokes. He said “man, you know, I got the studio upstairs.” We went up there, and we did the record. It was dope, a historic moment. Especially for me, somebody growing up, watching those two icons finally collaborate on something, then me being a part of it and playing a role.
AllHipHop: What are you currently working on?
Mistah F.A.B.: I’m always working. I just opened up a nightclub, it’s a bar and grill. I named it after my mother, it’s called Dezi’s. It’s right across the street from my clothing store in downtown Oakland, The Dope Era. I opened up another nail shop, so several businesses and ventures that I’m working towards.
One of the biggest ones I want to present to the world by next year is the Dope Era Academy, which is a school for the developmentive. Inner city kids with outside curriculums as far as not the traditional curriculum that schools provide: computer coding and financial literacy, cryptocurrency knowledge, mining, things of that nature. I want to be able to provide that intel to the children with the Dope Era Academy. Now we’re securing the funds, that’s going to be something that I want to release to the world that I’m very proud of.
AllHipHop: I love how much you do to help others, that’s incredible.
Mistah F.A.B.: Oh man, it’s a blessing. I credit my mother. My mother was a person, she’d give you the clothes off of her back. It’s in my nature.
Children who grow up in a home with parents who are addicted to drugs or alcohol are 3x more likely to suffer physical, sexual and emotional abuse. Was it difficult seeing your mom do crack cocaine?
When you’re young, you really don’t understand it. You know it’s something going on. Luckily, she was able to clean her life in the early stages of my life. My mom got clean when I was 9 or 10, no longer used drugs. Unfortunately, we normalize certain things in our communities. Out of the household: my grandmother had 11 kids, 9 of them on drugs.
Those things to us, it wasn’t a deficit. We didn’t look at it as a bad thing, we normalized it. Unfortunately, that’s how we heal with traumas in the communities that we come from, by normalizing some of the biggest atrocities. Watching my mother get clean was definitely a great moment for me and I’ll never forget that. She struggled with a lot of the things, postpartum of the addictions. Those are things that you deal with.
AllHipHop: Life after you’re sober?
Mistah F.A.B.: Just life man, life in general. Life is a speeding train in certain situations. It seems like it’s always going to hit you or you’re going to get stuck on the track, or you’re going to get nailed to something. Life is a speeding bullet in the communities that we come from. It’s hard to avoid the problems, the pain, then still be progressive and productive. You have to learn to deal with that.
That’s why certain people search for outlets in dealing. Drugs become things, some people become oversexualized, some people submit and succumb to those things in the communities that we come from. There are a lot of adults that haven’t healed from childhood trauma. As a huge advocate of something like that, I’m always wanting to address it and speaking on it to give a different perspective of someone who’s survived from those situations. Still doing it, but still dealing with the attachments of that.
AllHipHop: Did you ever go to therapy, or did you ever feel like you needed to?
Mistah F.A.B.: Yeah, therapy is a big thing. Therapy is something I’m a huge advocate of. People need to go to therapy because you may not even know you’re depressed. There are things that clinically once it’s being declared or once it’s being diagnosed, it diagnoses as characteristics of depression. Many of us may not know it because we’ve suppressed things.
I’m someone who firmly believes you have to reveal the heal. If you’re not revealing, then you’re suppressing. Once that suppression rises to the top, it creates an explosion. Many of us have exploded, and we don’t know it. Because we use things like weed to suppress things, or use things like alcohol.
AllHipHop: When did you stop smoking?
Mistah F.A.B.: Weed has always been an ongoing battle with me. From a young age, when I used to steal my mother’s weed, we would smoke in and out. Then I went on the long run without smoking. I have a very addictive personality, then I have family members that have had a history of being addicts. I never wanted to be addicted to anything, the self-control in me prevents me from being vulnerable to falling to that addiction. Anytime that I become too much of something, I step back. I haven’t smoked in 3 or 4 years.
AllHipHop: How are you so disciplined?
Mistah F.A.B.: Many people have died due to lack of discipline. Where we come from, discipline is a key component in survival. It’s something that you implement and you inoculate in your game plan as a means of survival.
AllHipHop: You’ve been doing the turkey drives for how long now?
Mistah F.A.B.: Almost two decades. Backpack giveaway, August 21st. 19th annual, just adhering to the calling. The supreme being has a calling for all of us, and you must adhere to the calling to do what you do. When it’s all said and done, when you return back to that, you should go empty-handed.
AllHipHop: We gotta talk about “Sideshow” with Traxamillion.
Mistah F.A.B.: Rest in peace Trax. Trax a very good man. His legacy will continue to live on through his music, through his children. The music never really defined who he was as a person. He was a much more greater friend than anything he contributed to music. That’s someone who I’ll miss dearly, just our conversations of life. That was a friend of mine. Not just my producer or somebody that made beats, that was my friend.
There were times where even in his latter days, I’d ask yo, you need anything? I’d send food to a spot, check on him. That was a real good friend of mine. I’m glad he left something that will live on, that’s the beauty in the music. “Sideshow,” we were in San Jose leaving E-40’s club. The Ambassador’s Lounge. He said “hey man, you know what would be dope? Is if you all came back to the studio man, I got some beats.”
The only way to lure Short in was yo, there are some girls up there. He’s like, “well alright, come on let’s go.” So we went to the studio, we created that at 3am or 4am in the morning. It was crazy.
AllHipHop: I have to get the story behind “Callin’ My Name” with The Jacka.
Mistah F.A.B.: My favorite song. The Jacka was my favorite rapper. He was my favorite rapper while he was alive though. It wasn’t the “wait till you pass to tell the world.” Every interview, I’d always say Jacka was my favorite rapper. That was my friend. Not only was he my favorite rapper, he was my brother.
The record was dope. “Callin’ My Name” was a record I did. I said yo Jack, I need you on this song. He said “okay, I’m going to come do it.” Bedrock produced it. The record was done. This is at the time I’m trying to figure out where we’re going to go in the direction of Atlantic Records, of putting the album out. I’m creating a record for the Atlantic record situation, we’re going through some turbulent things. We’re going through some contract situations, trying to figure it out.
Jack came to me and said, “yo, you using that record we did?” I said I want to. He’s like, “I’m about to drop Tear Gas man, I’d love to put it out on my project.” I said go ahead. Because a lot of people always wondered why I had two verses, and why he had one verse on the song. It was a song I’d already done, but I gave it to him.
My biggest regret is never shooting a video for it. We always talked about how we wanted to shoot one. 3 or 4 days before he passed, we were in the studio and it was weird. Sitting back thinking about it now, it was a surreal feeling. We’re in the lab, he’s like “yo, let’s work on a project. In case anything happens, We have some music that can outlive us.” I said what? What are you talking about? He said “nah, let’s work on some s### man.” A couple of days later, that happened.
AllHipHop: I’m so sorry.
Mistah F.A.B.: That was tough man. That hit me. I was affected, not naturally like when my mom died, but when Jack died, I felt like my mom’s son died. I was hurt. It was tough for me to deal with that because me and him had so much. We had been around the world together: Europe, Africa. We did all kinds of stuff together. That was my guy man. “Callin’ My Name” will forever be one of the ones.