Thizz Nation has been sideshowin’ and scrapin’ for years, and if you have no idea what that...
DJBooth Album Review
Over the last decade the Bay Area has been developing a distinct hip-hop subculture (dubbed the hyphy movement) complete with its own almost indecipherable vocabulary, frantic beats, and break-neck dancing. The heart of hyphy is an energy so intense you forget who you are, a spirit shared by the South’s crunk culture, that stands in direct contrast to the calculated cool of groups like G-Unit. In the Bay you don’t two-step, you shake your dreads and drip sweat till you collapse.
The title track Da Baydestrian starts the album off with F.A.B. schizophrenically switching up vocal styles and accents over a bass heavy beat punctuated by trademark slaps. Similarly, Furley Ghost is an ode to the recently murdered Mac Dre, a Bay area legend who was a mentor to F.A.B.. Dre invented the thizz face (the sour look you get after taking ecstasy, the staple drug of hyphy) and Furley Ghost slows the beat down so everyone in the club can do their meanest thizzle dance. F.A.B. brings on Too Short and Keak Da Sneak for a remix to The Short One’s track The Sideshow, a track with the kind of echoing beat perfect for hanging out the window of your car at the sideshow, the Bay’s version of a block party that needs to be seen to be truly understood:
Tracks like these aren’t made for detailed analysis; they’re made for losing yourself. Hyphy MCs rely more on style and personality than lyrical complexity, and while F.A.B. has enough to go around, he can’t match the endless charisma of Bay Area legends like E-40 and Mac Dre.
If F.A.B.’s going to make his name known outside the Bay, it’s because he can drop verses on black history and ghetto life that are much closer to Dead Prez than Too Short. F.A.B. grew up with no father, a drug-addicted mother, and an incarcerated brother, and he brings a potent combination of street awareness and social consciousness to the mic. He consistently reaches out to those who’ve lived the same hard life on songs like Life On Track, a soaring cut with a gospel-influenced hook that serves as an inspirational anthem. At the end of the album F.A.B. shows just how ambitious an MC he is with the tracks Deepest Thoughts and 100 Bars. Both songs have minimal production that puts the focus squarely on F.A.B.’s lyrics, which link black history in Egypt, the slave trade, and modern ghetto life. These are verses with echoes of a young Nas, and while F.A.B.’s a long way off from Illmatic, he’s closer than you might think.
Da Baydestrian is ultimately a stereotype breaking album that showcases an MC who can go intelligent as easily as he can go dumb. The two sides aren’t mutually exclusive, but in many ways this is the story of modern hip-hop; how does an artist stay true to his hometown while appealing to a national audience? F.A.B.’s certainly determined to bring some Oakland noise to the world, only time will tell if the hip-hop nation is willing to ride the yellow bus with him.
DJBooth Rating - 4 Spins
Written by Nathan S. on 05/21/07
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First DJ Booth Appearance:
"Party On ft. Snoop Dogg" (2007)
Total DJ Booth Features:
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