I thought I was feeling hyphy. I had no idea.
Mistah F.A.B. (Faeva Afta Bread) is back with his latest installment, this one called The Baydestrian. The Oakland native has been through a lot, and this album showcases the depth of his understanding and his sincere appreciation for life.
Plus it bangs.
Initially knocked by some for being a back-pack rapper who couldn't make songs, F.A.B.'s breakout success on his sophomore album Son of a Pimp had others calling him too commercial. Fortunately the self-proclaimed Prince of the Bay persisted, because Baydestrian is an absolute triumph.
The intro wastes no time getting into it; frivolously defining "baydestrian" with a sassy-ass flow that teases you into bobbing your head and pretending to hyphy-dance. It's followed by a clean, crisp remix to "The Slideshow," this time featuring fellow Bay-area legend Too Short. It's simultaneously hype and chill, and has just enough "beyatch's" to be authentic. "Life on Track" is darker; an introspective, honest mural of life from the eyes of young black man who lost his father to A.I.D.S., his brother to prison, and his hope to the harsh reality of ghetto America. The whisper flow perfectly reflects the tentativeness of his optimism, but what makes this track different than every other hard-knock-life tale about the hood is that F.A.B. refuses to play the role of a victim; admitting his struggles with weed and cognac. "Jamonie Robinson" is similar; a pensive tribute to fallen loved ones and good times gone forever. Here we see yet another distinction between F.A.B. and his west coast fears; his ability to come off not only as sensitive, but vulnerable.
"Furley Ghost" is a dance generated celebration of the next generation of hyphy culture. Full of tributes to label boss Mac Dre, F.AB., effortlessly pushes the rap envelope and still manages to stay true to his genre. Think of it as a don't-leave-home-without-it travel guide into the west coast world of drugs, parties and drug parties. "Crack Baby Anthem" is equally informative. The bass-heavy hook provides a fleeting yet crystal clear glimpse of an entire culture, like looking through a rainy windshield right after the wipers pass:
"This one goes out to the youngsters on the corner/ Posted with a burner won't leave till its over/Dreads like a weed hang down to the shoulder/ Rock after rock turn a bubble from a quarter".
"Fight Music" is exactly as billed - angry, serious threats that underline age-old gender animosity that most often plays itself out in tales of pimp smacks and bitch slaps. "On Yo Way" is inspirational and educational; perhaps a tad corny, but heartfelt. "Shorty Tryin 2 Get By" is a 2007 "Brenda's Got a Baby." Either it lacks the poignance of the original, or I'm more jaded than I was in 1991.
"Race for Your Pink Slips" "Dem Cars" both do justice to the often overlooked car culture in the Bay area, with the ominous Spice-1 adding a decent verse on "Race." "Dem Cars" is more frenzied fun; pure hyphy-ocity, but you gotta listen close: "She feeling on my bone, my piper my pecker my peter/ I'm spilling my patron on cue like Derek Jeter/ my hyphy rating be going off the meter/another myspace groupie hit me, man I'm gonna meet her".
"Get This Shit Together" is probably the closest thing to a low-point on this album - it lacks the organized chaos that the rest of the disc has. "Feelin' Fine" is a bit scattered too, but the duo with Dogwood has a quality feel to it; makes you want to sit down somewhere and listen. "Goin Crazy" is a confession-type song about a stripper (think: T-Pain on ecstasy.) "My Deepest Thoughts" is well-titled; F.A.B. reflects on everything from single-parent homes to Zulu religion to education reform.
"100 Bars" is essentially the sequel, except that this part two is better; the mental imagery and sheer lyrical brilliance provide an impressive cap on a literal work of art...dare I say masterpiece. It may not be a true classic or perfect, but it may just be the definitive Bay album of the decade.