Davey D interviews Mistah F.A.B. on the shooting deaths of Lovelle Mixon and four Oakland police officers
We wanted to catch up with Mistah F.A.B. He’s one of the key voices of the Bay, at least nationally speaking, and we wanted to get your assessment, especially since you were part of the big showcase that was here last night with everybody who was on the bill, from the Bundees on down, and want to get your take on what people are saying and how you personally as an Oakland resident is feeling about this situation.
Mistah F.A.B.: Well, anytime where there’s a death situation, Davey, you don’t want to go out and say, well, they deserved it, because somebody lost a father and somebody lost a friend. And when you deal with death, nothing constitutes a reason for death. Like I don’t wish death on anyone and I don’t wish jail on anyone. Those are horrible things to face.
Unfortunately, when you live in times where it’s really war – and our city, for anybody who doesn’t know, the City of Oakland right now is under war; we’re like a civil war, and it’s us against the authorities – it’s unfortunate that if you get pulled over, you’re so afraid for your life that you’re going to react as someone would react in war.
I mean, man, if you’re hearing about these cops killing all these people, all these young brothers, and you get pulled over, you don’t know if you’re going to go to jail or if you’re going to die. So it’s a Catch 22, man, and it’s unfortunate because, like I say, more than one person lost their life here; more than two people lost their life here: The cops lost their lives and Brother Lovelle lost his life. That’s five deaths, man, as a result of 1) self defense and 2) being afraid for your life. So what do you do?
It’s a civil war, us against the authorities – if you get pulled over, you’re so afraid for your life that you’re going to react as someone would react in war.
Davey D: So let me ask you, one of the things people are saying is that it was wrong for people around the country – and we saw this last night when dead prez announced it and people cheered, well, I don’t know if they cheered at your spot, but they definitely cheered at the other spot – and some people are like, well, I don’t understand.
I mean when I talked to a cat from Philly, they had horror stories, and the people from Houston have horror stories. All these people come from communities where they have horror stories and it seems like you would think that after the tragedy of Oscar Grant or Annette Garcia or a Sean Bell or anybody that law enforcement would use that tragedy – the good people in law enforcement would use that tragedy – as a way to bridge that gap, strengthen the bonds with the community. And apparently that hasn’t happened. It seems that things have gotten worse.
And, like they said, when they announced it, people cheered, like, “Fuck the cops!” “Kill ‘em!” “Kill the cops!” “Kill the pigs!” And that’s not going to settle anything. What that’s going to do is the cops hear – just like we talk, they talk: “So that’s how y’all feel? All right, we’re going to get your ass back!”
It’s war, man. It’s really gang war all over America, all over the world. In Philly, Houston, New York, cops need to realize the only way that this is going to stop is if they step up and take the initiative to say, OK, we’re wrong; we’ve done wrong things. How can we mend these relationships?
How can we sit down and come into the community and make a peace? And if there is no possible way to make a peace, let us admit our faults. Therefore, the people won’t feel like, “Oh, man, I’m getting pulled over.”
A random traffic stop is life or death now. Why does it feel like that, like you don’t even want to stop. So you got a high speed chase, you risk somebody else’s life, you pull over, you shoot a cop: That’s your life. You can’t win. People are blaming the people like they’re stupid for doing that. Why are they doing that? That’s some ignorant asshole wanting to shoot a cop. But no, they’re not.
That’s somebody who’s scared for his life. All over the country, all over the world, they’re afraid for their lives. People of authority are taking advantage of their authority and the good cops aren’t taking the initiative to step up and say, “We don’t support that.” They’re not saying: “Hold on! We’re not like that. All of us aren’t like that.”
A random traffic stop is life or death now. You don’t even want to stop. So you got a high speed chase, you risk somebody else’s life, you pull over, you shoot a cop: That’s your life. You can’t win.
Davey D: That’s something that was talked about last night and the question was asked – we were talking with some brothers off the record because they didn’t want to go on, and that just goes to show you there were folks that were here that were afraid to go on because of past situations and they don’t want to be on record – but they were asking, what was the reaction of the police after Oscar Grant? Did anybody send his mom a flower? Cards? Did anybody hold a press conference to say this is a tragedy? You didn’t see none of that.
Dude broke it down: He said they see us as inhuman. If they see us as inhuman, why should we not see them as inhuman?
Mistah F.A.B.: I don’t see a problem going on record because this is something I really stand firm and believe. I talked to many – I won’t put their name on record – but I talked to some Black officers in our community and I told them: Yo, you know, when this whole situation went down, I felt like you guys should have came forth like, “We’re not supporting that. We definitely don’t believe in the ideologies that some of these officers and these people of authority are enforcing. We want to make amends with the community.”
They see us as inhuman. If they see us as inhuman, why should we not see them as inhuman?
You have to realize, Davey, there are officers who have programs, like these summer programs where there are sports programs for these kids. Like I told one of them, I said, “Bro, you’re one of the main representatives to get kids into school and the initiative to get them into sports and community related type things so when it’s time for these kids to turn 18 and when they become grown, they’re an enemy? These same kids you played with in summer camp and baseball – they’re an enemy now?
“These are the kids that are dying. These are the grown men that were once in those programs. They aren’t your enemy. Don’t treat them like they’re your enemy. These are your offspring, these are kids that played in your camp.”
Davey D: What did these officers say when you broke it down to them like that?
Mistah F.A.B.: It was so humbling to see someone like me really tell them like that. Like one of the officers – I’m in the hood when I see him, and I flag him down and the homies were like, “Man, what you doing?” I’m like, “Hold on, man; this is a homie. He’s a cool dude.” So I flag him down and he pulled over. He like, “F.A.B., what’s up, man?”
I’m like, “Man, why you don’t take a stand to that, dude? Why you didn’t say nothing about that?” He’s like, “F.A.B., man, it’s so many politics.” I said, “Listen, there comes a time when you have to make your own politics. You have to say it even if this is worth losing my job or worth losing whatever rank I have or public persona that people perceive me as.
And to a lot of these artists, a lot of these political figures, these athletes: “Stop hiding behind your position. People say, oh, let’s do it off the record. Why? Let’s put it on the record. Show us how you really feel. Show us what’s going on in your community. Or is it something that you’re not wanting to stand for?”
This is not saying I’m going to kill a cop when I see one. I’m not saying that, ‘cause I honestly do believe that there are cops out there that really do their job. But I’m not going to hide behind my position as a rapper and be afraid that if I get pulled over, they’re going to take this out on me because I represent for my people. If we don’t address the politics and the issues that the public needs to hear, then no one will ever be conscious of what’s really going on.
Davey D: That’s real talk. We’ve been talking with Mistah F.A.B. As we wrap up, we’re here in Austin, Texas, and for people who don’t know, yesterday when the news broke out here at the South by Southwest Music Conference, it reverberated all the way around. Dead prez got on the stage at two concerts and announced it, and in both the concert that I was at, where it was a mixed audience – Black, Brown, white, everybody – the audience cheered – cheered – and that says a lot.
At the concert that F.A.B. was at, same thing: Packed house cheered. And I guess this leads to my last question: With these sorts of relationships, there are two concerns that people have. One is people are speculating, OK, this is how you feel and it will really bring the heat and not just people in Oakland but in all cities where people may feel encouraged or some sort of satisfaction from this are going to catch heat.
But I’m not going to hide behind my position as a rapper and be afraid that if I get pulled over, they’re going to take this out on me because I represent for my people. If we don’t address the politics and the issues that the public needs to hear, then no one will ever be conscious of what’s really going on.
Last night we saw a heavy presence of police. I don’t know if it was because of the closing or whatever but also the question is, what are some of the solutions that we can put forth? What kinds of things should happen?
Mistah F.A.B.: The people must realize that death is not cool. I’m not telling y’all, “Yo, go kill a cop, man. Make your people happy.” It’s not about that. What is that settling?
But if slaves revolted and killed a slave owner, then the people who have been oppressed will feel some type of satisfaction, because for so long they have been getting treated with the injustices of these slave owners. The authorities act like they’re slave owners and they treat us inhuman. They treat us like we’re less than one-third of a man like we used to be when we first came to this country.
If we take a stand and we make examples of these slave owners, then the slave owners will realize, “Wait! Hold on! This ain’t right. Something ain’t right. Wait a minute and they must realize it’s something that they’re doing that raises the level, the intensity level, that forces us to revolt and rebel.
But if slaves revolted and killed a slave owner, then the people who have been oppressed will feel some type of satisfaction … The authorities act like they’re slave owners and they treat us inhuman.
The people must understand that I’m not saying continue to accept the injustices – no way! Put your foot down, stand firm on your decisions that you do make, but also be aware of the fact that this is someone else’s family. If they want to continue to act that way, whatever your decision, stand firm with it. But always try to look for the positive decision out of it. Don’t just always say, “Well, I’m gon’ kill him.”
Like last week, Davey, they just gave my brother 432 years. That’s serious. It’s so serious that it’s unbelievable. When you hear your brother say they just gave me 432 years, what I’m gon’ do? What you gon’ do? 432 years? It’s serious, Davey.
They’re making examples out of us, all because they can. We stand firm on our decision as we gather, as we organize in a worldwide brotherhood realizing that we’re not going to take this anymore.
But let’s come forth with our political leaders and let’s sit down with their authority leaders and let’s make up a solution. And if there’s no solution to be made, then the problem will persist. And it’s not like this problem has just started happening. This has been going on for years. But who’s going to step forward and say, “Let’s make this change, let’s try to do this.”
I have no problem going to sit down with the chief of police and say “Dog, let’s do this. Let’s do that.” And once the public sees someone of my social status and my relevance in the community and I’m bringing those guys that you’re turning your back on, those same guys that you’re racially profiling, that you’re pulling over, that are afraid for their lives, they’re on the front line and they’re willing to say, all right what we gon’ do?
That’s what must happen. So political leaders, community leaders and people of activism all over the country and all over the world must step forth to make a change for power, not a change of continuing the cycle of ignorance.
We want people to reflect on this, and let’s figure out how we can really flip this to our collective advantage and move forward. We’ve had the Oscar Grants, we’ve had the Sean Bells, the Annette Garcias, the Adolph Grimes – 12 shootings already at the start of this year. Something has got to change; otherwise, it’s going to be a very, very, very long, hot summer.
Hear this interview and another with M1 of dead prez, plus Beeda Weeda and J Stalin’s “Fuck the Police: We Ain’t Listening” and more conscious music from dead prez, Truth Universal, Mistah F.A.B. and Jennifer Johns. Much of this was broadcast on Hard Knock Radio March 23.