Holdin' the weight of the Bay - Page 2

As Atlantic delays his major-label debut, Da Yellow Bus Rydah, Mistah FAB hits the underground running with Da Baydestrian
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Yet by the show's finale — the "Getz Ya Grown Man On" remix, on which he has a verse — Fabby Davis has left the building. Being Mistah FAB, I realize, can be exhausting.

FOLLOW THE YELLOW BUS ROAD

Mistah FAB's deal with Atlantic is a landmark in a scene long neglected by the majors. Along with Clyde Carson's signing with Capitol, FAB's arrangement — including distribution for his Faeva Afta Entertainment — is the first serious acknowledgment of the renaissance Bay Area rap has undergone in the past three years. Unlike E-40, a regional star who'd already achieved putf8um sales on Jive before his push last year by Warner Bros., FAB's an unknown quantity outside the Bay. And in contrast to Frontline or the Federation — whose deals came through the respective backing of nationally known producers E-A-Ski and Rick Rock — FAB is the first evidence for a new generation of local rappers that enough talent and dedication can get you signed. It's another weight on the shoulders of the man born Stanley Cox Jr.

"Lots of people are putting their hopes into the album," he acknowledges. "They're, like, 'I hope FAB do it, because it'll kick in the door for all of us.' I realized when I was creating this album it's not just something I want to do. It's something my whole region depends on."

Da Yellow Bus Rydah's journey has been anything but smooth, however. Bottom line: Atlantic has postponed the album's tentatively scheduled spring release, due to controversy surrounding the Ghostbusters-themed advance single, "Ghost Ride It." A tribute to the hood-invented practice of throwing your car in neutral as you walk alongside and steer, "Ghost Ride It" was generating a buzz through its a video on YouTube and the minor-league MTVs when a Dec. 29, 2006, Associated Press story ("Hip-Hop Car Stunt Leaves 2 Dead") linked the song with a pair of unrelated deaths: Davender Gulley, 18, of Stockton, who "died after his head slammed into a parked car while he was hanging out the window of an SUV," and an unnamed "36-year-old man dancing on top of a moving car [who] fell off, hit his head and died in what authorities said was Canada's first ghost riding fatality." While the scant details obscure whether these incidents stemmed from ghost riding or more traditional automotive horseplay, Fox News's Hannity and Colmes found the trend alarming enough to call FAB on the carpet in January.

"You understand that a lot of kids look up to you?" Sean Hannity accused rather than asked FAB. "They sing your songs. They dress like you. They talk like you — they wanna be you!" Aside from displaying an oversimplified sense of the relationship between artist and audience, Hannity's remark reveals a comic lack of familiarity with hip-hop and their guest in particular: what part of "Super Sic Wit It" do you sing? Moreover, while rap fans undoubtedly draw from the same well of slang, the idea that they all talk the same — or even like FAB, for that matter — is a stereotype.

"I don't think they expected me to be so articulate," FAB recalls with a laugh. Yet among MCs, FAB is singular interview subject. While he has a clear sense of his talent and importance, he's more apt to discuss his personal relationship with God or how his lonely childhood as a latchkey kid inspired him to create rather than brag about how real he is. His power to articulate the struggle of urban youth — to explain the rage that motivates, say, ghost riding — is the very reason he's often labeled the spokesperson for a hyphy movement otherwise devoted to "going dumb."

Hannity treated FAB like he's dumb, but FAB turned the tables.

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