Holdin' the weight of the Bay - Page 3

As Atlantic delays his major-label debut, Da Yellow Bus Rydah, Mistah FAB hits the underground running with Da Baydestrian
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Hannity's denunciation of his effect on the "kids" prompted the rapper to question whether his influence rightly extends to a Canadian 11 years his senior, which Hannity countered by accusing FAB of wanting as much "money and controversy" as he can get. When FAB speculated on the influence of turning on the TV and seeing 3,000 soldiers die in Iraq, Alan Colmes was sent in as a balm, ending the segment.

"Both those people were adults," FAB says later of the ghost-riding deaths. "I feel bad for the families, but at the end of the day, an adult has to take responsibility for his actions."

GHOSTBUSTED

The next pothole for Yellow Bus was a late March cease and desist letter from Columbia Pictures for copyright infringement in the "Ghost Ride It" video — just as it was about to debut on MTV's 106 and Park. "We had permission [to use the Ghostbusters van] from the man who built it and owns it," FAB explains. "But Columbia owns the logo." The video was immediately pulled from all media outlets, impairing Atlantic's ability to market the single nationally. As a result, the Yellow Bus has been parked. The official explanation, from Atlantic VP Mike Carin, is that the label is focusing on FAB's "artistic development." Despite the inevitable rumor that the rapper was dropped, Carin confirms that "the deal is still in place."

Still, such delays have silenced many MCs' buzz: witness how the delay of Raekwon's album on Aftermath has converted excitement into skepticism, or how the Team's World Premiere (Moedoe/Koch, 2006) dropped too long after its singles had peaked, leading to lower-than-expected sales. Fortunately, the structure of FAB's distribution deal allows him an unusual degree of freedom.

"They were willing to sacrifice certain things," he says of his initial decision to sign with Atlantic among competing offers. "They allowed me to do what I want to do — if I want to drop an independent album, I can."

ENTER DA BAYDESTRIAN

This flexibility has allowed the prolific FAB to immediately walk out another new album, Da Baydestrian, on May 15, through SMC/Fontana. Although, according to SMC cofounder Will Bronson, Atlantic has options to include as many as five of its songs on Yellow Bus, Baydestrian is an otherwise distinct project intended to satisfy the demand for a follow-up to Son of a Pimp. FAB's also preparing a series of summer releases, including a second installment of the all-freestyle Tonite Show with DJ Fresh. (Fresh, incidentally, edited FAB's 2005 DVD, The Freestyle King, now packaged with Baydestrian as a bonus.) With Beeda Weeda and J-Stalin, representing the East and West respectively, FAB's formed the multihood group N.E.W. Oakland, whose mixtape is nearing completion. Prince of Da Bay (In Yo Face/Hooker Boy Filmz), a documentary on FAB by local hip-hop director Dame Hooker, should be out by press time, while FAB's next DVD, Shoobalaboobie TV, is in the works.

"You do what you have to do to keep the buzz going," FAB says. "Also sales — on the independent level, your numbers are what's important [to major labels]." Da Baydestrian thus has Atlantic's blessing, but its commercial success will determine the fate of his deal.

Yet the need to appeal to the marketplace hasn't inhibited FAB's creativity, and Da Baydestrian refuses to play it safe. Rather than exploit the hyphy sound he helped establish, FAB only sprinkles it in, most obviously on the remix of the Traxamillion-produced "Sideshow" and the opening title track, one of six bangers produced by FAB protégé Rob-E.

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