Back in 2006, Oakland's unofficial hyphy ambassador Mistah FAB -- like the movement itself -- was a relentless ball of energy, with a 10,000-watt smile on his face. On any given day, he'd be popping up at a Youth Uprising dance battle or an Oakland City Council meeting, joining forces with the Silence the Violence campaign, or strolling into a local high school. At 24, the man born Stanley P. Cox Jr., seemed to be a bit of a goofball, a big little kid relishing his star power, decked out in gold, diamonds on his grill and a big cartoon bus around his neck. His rap persona, too, was something of a cartoon character all the kids adored, with his nasally rhymes about "getting on the yellow bus" -- a.k.a "going dumb" or "wilding out" -- and ghost-riding -- dancing on a moving car with no one behind the wheel.
Now, Mistah FAB is the father of a two-year-old girl, and he's no longer playing the class clown. In fact, he seems a little chagrined that he has encouraged so much recklessness in the past, even as he was advocating for the youth. Now, he's thinking his future could be in politics, leading Oakland as mayor some day. At August's Fresh Fest in Oakland's Mosswood Park, he gave a stirring speech to the crowd, still shellshocked by the involuntary manslaughter verdict against BART Police officer Johannes Mehserle in the death of 23-year-old Oakland resident Oscar Grant.
"As mentors, we must realize that when we tell these young dudes, 'Oh little homie, you tripping, you hyphy, you wild!' -- that's not the way," FAB told the audience. "Let's tell these dudes, 'I feel your pain, I know your brother got life. I know you don't know your dad. I was in that same situation. My brother got 100 years. My mother has cancer right now, so every day, I'm appreciative to be with her. My daddy died from AIDS.' ... We can't continue to give up on the youth. Stop saying there's no hope for the future. We have to give them the feeling that 'You can make it, too.'"
I recently just dropped another video called, "Get Away." To me, that's the alternative solution. "Get Away" says before you allow yourself to crash on that highway, you just need to get away, go somewhere else. And if you can't physically go somewhere else, mentally go there. Although your body may be trapped and enslaved, your mind is free to roam. See yourself somewhere else. Be somewhere else. Because growing up in the inner cities that we come up in, the only thing that saves most of us is having a great, vivid imagination.