Oakland rapper Mistah F.A.B. talks creating youth development center, fashion and music

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Mistah F.A.B. has created the kind of hits that can make an entire nightclub get hyphy, or have people shouting the lyrics out the windows of their cars. His sound is infectious. The Oakland rapper, turned fashion designer and now community pillar is a Bay Area legend.

"It's humbling because it was all a dream," Mistah F.A.B. said.

Born Stanley Cox, Mistah F.A.B. was raised by a single mother in North Oakland after losing his father to AIDS. "He was a heroin addict using needles and things like that and just trying his best to survive," Mistah F.A.B. said. "He succumbed to that lifestyle. In the infancy stages of my writing, I began writing about my life and writing about my father, and what it was like growing up as a young Black man with a mother who was recovering from drugs herself."

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Mistah F.A.B.'s mother died about 12 years ago. He told ABC7 News that she encouraged him to write as a child. She purchased notepads, dictionaries, and books for her son. Over time, Mistah F.A.B. began writing raps and found success selling CD's out of his car. He used that same business model when starting the Dope Era clothing line with his brother and friends.

"We pressed up like 25 shirts and just went to the neighborhood and they bought them up," Mistah F.A.B. continued. "The next thing you know it was 100 shirts, the next order went to 200 shirts, and now I'm riding around and can't even see out the rental because I have all these shirts and sweaters in the back seats. I can't even make a turn!"

The brand has exploded and is frequently sported by stars like Snoop Dogg, Stephen Curry and T.I. Dope Era has a bright storefront along Broadway in the heart of Oakland's downtown.

"It's not just a clothing store," Mistah F.A.B. explained. It's an energy hub. It revitalizes the community. When people are going through things, they come here and talk."

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The "Dope" in Dope Era stands for Developing Opportunity for People to Evolve.

"It's imperative that we have spaces where people can come reboot and talk to some folks about what it is that they're going through and seeing a family unit," Mistah F.A.B. said.

Family is all over the shop, from the employees working there to the photos on the walls. Many of the pictures feature Mistah F.A.B.'s hero, his late mother.

"I just wish she was physically here to see-- to see all the work she put in paying off," Mistah F.A.B. said.

There is no doubt Mistah F.A.B.'s mother would be proud of his next venture. He's launching a youth development center called Dope Era Academy.

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"Marcus Garvey, Martin, Malcolm, human rights, civil rights, liberation," Mistah F.A.B. said as he discussed the curriculum. "We create a space, a safe space where our children can go and feel excepted. One of the main reasons why children join gangs is because they don't have any acceptance."

Mistah F.A.B. is looking for more financial support and a building to get those plans off the ground, but he has no problem doing it alone.

"I'll go broke doing it," Mistah F.A.B. said.

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Mistah F.A.B. did purchase the building across the street from Dope Era. It's a new nightclub called Dezi's. It's named after his late mother who once managed a club herself.

"She said, 'When I get my club, I'm going to do it like this and it's going to look like this,'" he explained. "I used to be like, 'Mom I'm going to buy you a club watch,' and she would say, 'I know baby' and that was her thing. She would say, 'I know. That's why I'm telling you how I want it.'"
Mistah F.A.B. continues to create jobs and pour back into the community that made him. Just when you think he can't have any more projects, Mistah F.A.B. is dropped a new album on Friday. He is 40 now and a dad, so the sound is a little different.

"No curse words," he continued. "No profanity because I don't want to give someone a reason to not listen to it."

The album is called Black Designer. The title is a nod to designers of culture. The song titles feature names like W.E.B. Du Bois, Duke Ellington and George Washington Carver. The album is available for streaming on Apple Music and Spotify.

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