Mistah F.A.B. grew up in Oakland and was coming of age when Tupac Shakur was making his mark as a rapper in the San Francisco Bay Area in the early 1990s. In an exclusive interview with HipHopDX, Mistah F.A.B. discusses his favorite Tupac Shakur songs.
Mistah F.A.B. says that "Dear Mama" is one of his favorite Tupac Shakur songs. "I lost my mom a couple years ago to cancer, and I felt like on that particular song, Tupac was his most vulnerable," Mistah F.A.B. says of the song, which was included on the late rapper's third album, 1995's Me Against The World. "The vulnerability he showed on that song was like, 'I love my momma, but we never see eye to eye. She kicked me out the house. She showed me tough love. It was hard for her to show she loved me.' At times, I doubted if she even loved me until I was older when I understood that, 'Damn, my momma almost broke her back to make sure that I was good.'
"My mom use to work so much," Mistah F.A.B. continues. "She worked like three or four jobs, sometimes she wouldn’t be able to get out to some of my basketball games, my baseball games. When you’re the star of the team and you look out into the crowd and you don’t see your mom, you're like, 'Damn mom. Are your jobs more important than me?' There would be conversations like, 'Damn, your jobs are more important than coming to watch me play? Everybody is coming to watch me play, our games are full, they’re packed, we’re the best. People are coming from everywhere to come watch us play.' Me, I’m in tenth grade and I'm signing autographs for basketball. But she worked so hard, but you don’t realize it until you get older. It’s like, 'Damn, momma nearly broke her back to put a meal on the table, to take care of me and all my friends.' My mom was like the neighborhood mom, when you were going through something she would be like, 'Justin come here. You’re momma tripping again? Well, that’s your momma. You smoke weed yet, little nigga? (laughs).' My mom was like a thug. She was the cool mom. 'Pac made it feel like that. He gave everybody his mom on that song. He made you appreciate her. If you didn’t have that relationship with your mom, you would be like, 'Mom, you good (laughs)?' When you listen to that song, it made you want to call your mom, back then page your mom."
Tupac Shakur's "So Many Tears" Showed How "Love Can Get You Hurt, Get You Killed"
Mistah F.A.B. says that "So Many Tears," another Me Against The World selection, is also among his favorite Tupac Shakur songs. "I’ve listened to that song, honestly like a million times," he says. "The picture he painted was, 'I’m young. I’m stressed out. I can't stop crying about the situation that is going on in my life right now. I’m fighting these cases. I want to do right.'
“If you listen to that song you can hear a young man stressed, scared, powerful, this dude wondering if the people around him are going to kill him," Mistah F.A.B. continues. "You could tell the world was taking him and he still wanted to be the passionate dude that loved, but love can get you hurt, get you killed, and he had to be on guard to be who he was. 'So Many Tears' let you know it wasn’t wrong for crying. It wasn’t wrong for questioning certain things. It wasn’t wrong for putting your heart out there. He put it on the line."
Tupac Shakur's "Unconditional Love" Hit Home For Mistah F.A.B.
Two of Mistah F.A.B.'s other favorite Tupac Shakur songs are "I Ain't Mad At Cha" from 1996's All Eyez On Me and "Unconditional Love," a cut from 1998's Greatest Hits. Mistah F.A.B. says that “I Ain't Mad At Cha” was so dope because no matter what happens to you in life, you get over things.
As was the case with "Dear Mama," there's a personal reason why "Unconditional Love" resonates so deeply with Mistah F.A.B. “'Unconditional Love,' I think I heard that song like three days after my mom died, and it’s right around the same time that my brother got convicted," Mistah F.A.B. says. "It was like (sings the song), 'It was like no matter what, I’m still going to love you.' The three verses were about three different situations, different scenarios, and was like damn he just talked about…I don’t know I just love 'Unconditional Love' because it lets you know no matter what, you don’t put stipulations on love and stuff like that. No matter what, real unconditional love, when you really got love from somebody, there is nothing the person can do. It’s like, 'Whatever, I’m riding with you. You wrong, you wrong, whatever. I’m still with you.' It’s unconditional."
Mistah F.A.B. likens "Unconditional Love" to “Momma’s Just A Little Girl.” "These are songs that you got to be real 'Pac fans to be into these songs," he says. “'Momma’s Just A Little Girl' described my mom all the way, like all the way. My mom left home at 14, by herself, dropped out of school, dropped out of school by 9, everything. Packages, she used to be like, 'Boy, I use to have like six keys laying…I use to fuck with this older nigga in Frisco who use to send me to LA area every other day, seven keys strapped to me, I was scared as shit.' She was a hustler but she was a little girl."
Although Mistah F.A.B.'s favorite Tupac Shakur songs are not among the most popular tunes from the rapper-actor, Mistah F.A.B. says that the songs have significant meaning to him as a person.
"These songs to me, are the themes of my life," Mistah F.A.B. says. "When I listen to Tupac, I listen to Tupac the poet, Tupac the artist, the person who is not afraid to go into the studio and not scared to talk about current events, talk about life for the everyday people. It wasn't about money. I don’t think any of the songs I mentioned said anything about money. It was about real life thing that we could feel. It will be debated, all the time, whatever it was to people, but those are the songs that enriched the most for me.
"You listen to those songs and you feel like I know this dude," Mistah F.A.B. continues. "I don’t think in today’s Hip Hop you could listen to an album and feel like you know somebody. When you listen to 'Pac’s album, you knew his mom’s name was Afeni. You knew he had a daughter. You weren’t sure if she was really his daughter or she was adopted because he loved her so much. You knew his right-hand man was Kato. You knew the Outlawz were his homies. You knew he grew up here. He grew up there. You knew this is what he loved to do. You knew he was politically informed. These were things you knew when you walked away from an album and you knew everything about him. Nowadays, you listen to an album and say, 'That nigga got money' (laughs). That’s all you can get from the artist."