October 12, 2006

If enthusiasm is contagious, this report on Mistah FAB's recent performance at the Mixshow Power Summit in DR has given us SARS: "THE CD WOULD NOT PLAY SO FAB TOLD DRAMA TO DROP A INSTRUMENTAL. DJ DRAMA PUT ON A BEAT AND FAB RIPPED THE ILLEST FREESTLYE FOR 8 MINS STRAIGHT THAT I HAVE EVER HEARD! WITHIN THE FIRST 2 MINS OF FREESTYLIN THE ENTIRE CROWD WAS IN AWE!" Thanks for the update, Box Kev. Read our Gen F on Fabby Davis Jr from last spring's FADER 37 after the jump, and check for dude's major label debut on Atlantic coming soon-ish.

Get On The Bus

Mistah Fab goes dumb differently

By Nick Barat

“Tupac was a backpacker!” shouts Mistah FAB from his Metro phone on a street in North Oakland. “I don’t care what anyone says, he’s the greatest lyricist of all time, and he’s ‘real hip hop.’ He loved it. But his version of backpacking had to be different because of his demographic.” As a rising star in the Bay rap scene, the 24 year-old “Fabby Davis Jr” is an expert at dread-shaking chants and melodic catchphrases; after dropping “I ride the yellow bus and get dummy retarded” in a verse, it became an Oaktown mantra. But even when local success swells up enough to put E-40 videos back on MTV and get Whoo Kid to cosign an all-Bay mixtape for G-Unit, FAB won’t just get hyphy for its own sake. He knows how to record megawatt, street-certified slaps, and does so with finesse, but he inhabits a unique lyrical worldview where club songs can get deep and Pac rocks a Jansport.

While hustling his self-released Nig Latin CD, Mistah FAB caught the attention of the late Bay legend Mac Dre, who signed FAB to his label right before he was killed. “Dre had brought me in not only like a little cousin or little brother, but because he saw my charisma,” he says. “He was just like ‘I love you, cuddie. You crazy.’” On the song “The Furley Ghost”, FAB pays tribute to his mentor and his signature Thizz Dance, rapping about Dre’s spastic dance moves like a churchgoer catching the holy spirit—Stand up! Let Dre get in your soul, put yo hands up! The song perfectly captures the bittersweetness of Mac Dre’s death, a tragedy that ended up focusing more media attention than ever before onto the new Bay movement; Mistah FAB’s decision to mourn via a club banger reflects his own perspective on songwriting: Here, we dance a little different.

On songs like “If ‘If’ Was A Fifth” and the heartbreaking, guitar-picked “If Papa Was Home” off his latest album Son Of A Pimp, FAB’s lyrics are candid and unguarded; he doesn’t preach to his listeners, but invites them to ride shotgun while he searches his soul. “After I dropped that album, people knew my dad died of AIDS, my mom was a drug addict, my brother’s been in jail for ten years,” he says. “Not every rapper will give you a piece of themselves.” Mistah FAB insists that his next album, a double CD called The Yellow Bus Ridah, will be just as open—the “Back Of The Bus” disc features hyphy anthems, while the “Front Of The Bus” disc contains more conscious and political material. “I’m caught in the middle of going dumb and being a backpacker,” he says. “So I’ma go dumb with my backpack on.”

Posted: October 12, 2006