Free at last? - Page 2

Mistah FAB finally gets airplay on KMEL — but will the station play the Bay?

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PHOTO BY PHIL EMERSON

This development potentially goes beyond FAB to the entire Bay, whose artists are seldom represented on Clear Channel-owned KMEL. But is Karter really about change? In an e-mail interview two weeks ago, he acknowledged that he hopes to increase airplay for local artists. But when asked what's preventing it, he was inconclusive at best. "Its all about the music," he wrote. "Quality, mass appeal music that garners passion is the standard for KMEL."

This is the same line KMEL has pushed for years, implying that Bay Area artists are at fault for not making quality music. For a concrete example of an artist meeting his criteria, I asked about J-Stalin. Stalin has one of the most passionate followings in Oakland; I hear his music slappin' in passing cars, on BART, even in the elevator in my apartment building. Yet KMEL put nothing in rotation from last year's The Prenuptial Agreement (SMC, 2010), which debuted at No. 1 on Rasputin's rap chart.

"I can't comment," Karter wrote, regarding Stalin. "I don't know much about him."

When I asked about FAB, Karter stopped replying, refusing to confirm even meeting with him. I can't say for sure why, though I imagine his reluctance to discuss FAB stems from not wanting to acknowledge the ban in the first place.

I don't want to criticize Karter. I'm thrilled he's playing FAB, and he deserves some time to show and prove. But the Bay needs the radio. Radio made FAB a star back in 2005 when KMEL was banging "Super Sic Wid It," while his later lack of airplay gave Atlantic cold feet about releasing his album. With his current single, FAB is merely testing the waters; he has an arsenal of bigger singles to release — if the radio will play them. "I have crazy records people would be amazed by," FAB says. "Records with T-Pain, Snoop Dogg, Talib Kweli, one with Rick Ross and Jadakiss over a Justus League beat — you know, just playing the power names, like, look what I been doing over the years. So if they give this a run, they gonna love what I have in store for them."

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