SXSW Day 2: Mistah Fab Remembers Nate Dogg, Freestyles About Water Bottles

Categories: SXSW
Mistah Fab in Austin yesterday.
Perhaps 25 people were in the room yesterday afternoon when Oakland rapper Mistah Fab and his DJ started playing inside the Austin Convention Center. That number grew eventually, but Fab blazed from the start, in a set that felt like half spoken-word lecture and half rap show. "I don't care if there's 100 people or 1,000 people, I'ma represent," he spat, sporting his now-signature black "Oakland U.S.A." sweatshirt.

But while Fab was ready to throw down, his messages were dark. "Today was a sad day -- I miss Nate Dogg," he said, before giving a short tribute to the recently passed L.A. rapper. Even Fab's own material carried themes of loss. Explaining that his brother "just got 100 years in prison -- he'll never be out," (we're not sure about the exact facts here) Fab briefly went into a song called "Teenage Thug," a remake of Slick Rick's "Teenage Love." Then he did a snippet of "Call Heaven" (Chorus: "If you could call heaven, who would you ask to speak to?") reminding the crowd that his father died of AIDS in 1994. 

The mood picked up and the awkwardness declined as Fab -- with stars shaved into his head -- went into some faster numbers: a new, old-sounding track called "Boom Bap," a collaboration with Snoop Dogg and Too $hort called "Life of the Party," and then a series of mind-blowing freestyles. For the best of these, Fab asked the audience -- which had now grown considerably -- to told up an object for him to rap about. They included pens, ball caps, bottles of water, and Fab linked them all together in a long and fiery freestyle. (Is that Aquafina or Dasani? he asked at one point.) By the end the room was nearly full, and Fab sent the audience members into loud howls and applause. The strange convention-center rap show turned out to be a crowd-pleaser.

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