The Hyphy movement’s title comes from the Bay Area slang word Hyphy. Hyphy originally meant “hyperactive,” but has since come to represent the music, culture, and lifestyle of its origin. The Hyphy craze began in the Bay Area in the early 2000s, but didn't become a movement until 2004. It was created by Oakland native rapper Keak da Sneak when he coined the term on his 1999 album Sneakacydal. Rappers such as E40, Too $hort, D-lo, Mac dre, and etc have also played a big part into the movement.
Another iconic figure of the Hyphy movement is rapper, singer-songwriter, and activist Mistah F.A.B. He began his career in the 1990s under Mac Dre's label Thizz Entertainment. Since then, F.A.B. has put out six solo albums, more than 10 complilations, and over 20 mixtapes. He is also a multi-platinum songwriter and record producer.
The Hyphy Movement is a large part of Bay Area music culture. Many who call the Bay their home are unaware of the impact this movement had on the music scene. Recently I had a chance to sit down with this Bay Area legend who is also known as the Prince of the Hyphy movement.
Justin Walton: When did the Hyphy movement start and who created the term hyphy?
F.A.B: From what I know, The Hyphy movement started in 2002, but people didn't really start running with it until 04-06. The first person that I ever heard say hyphy was Keak Da Sneak. I would have to give him all of the credit.
JW: Why do you think the Hyphy movement was created?
F.A.B: Why was it created? Because it finally gave the a youth a voice. It was able to explain and be an example of what young guys who wanted to vent the out prize of the youth of that time. It was a society of young guys formulating and conjuring on the same concept, and that concept was a release. It gave the youth a release and a voice. It was very similar to what rock and roll did for people who was tired of just contemporary music, it gave them an outlet, it was the loud scream of the youth that everyone was ignoring.
JW: How and when did you get involved with the whole Hyphy scene?
F.A.B: Well I put out my first... Well my second album in 2005 and I guess that coined me the “prince” per se of the whole hyphy movement thing, but I was just making music, I was just talking about what was going on right here and what we were seeing. I did my whole album here around the corner, so that whole album I was basically being a narrator of what was going on in the community and how we were acting when we were going out and what we were doing. I really just painted our lifestyle that become an depiction of art and they put a title to it.
JW: How was it growing up in that period of time in the bay?
F.A.B: Well I was already grown, so I don’t really think I was growing up, I feel like experiencing that period of time was fun and was vibrant, and the reason why I said it was vibrant was because you look left and you look right, you would see young entrepreneurs, you would see artist making money, you would see people doing things that were not so great, you know with every good thing there's always bad things so you saw a lot of drugs and saw a lot of other things that lead to the negligence and negativity sparking and spawning, but the perspective that I took from it was, you were here, you gave a chance, and you gave a voice to these youthful guys and they did something that they were able to take care of there families with, they were able to travel around the world, that gave me a chance to go to different countries and things like that. It was a great time, it was a experiment and experience I will never forget.
JW: Would you say that Hyphy was also a lifestyle?
F.A.B: Yeah, Hyphy became known because of the music, but it was the lifestyle. You really had to live that life. The lifestyle actually became dubbed into music, so metaphorically they allowed the words to be more powerful than what the actual existence of it was, and that existence was a lifestyle. This was the life the young guys were living. Everybody was doing this, this is what cats were really doing. When I would say the things I would say in the music I was making, that’s what was really going on. When we were talking about getting kicked out the club and things like that, that was what was really happening.
JW: Do you think the Hyphy movement is present in our area today, and if so who do you think are the people carrying the movement today?
F.A.B: The concept is still very much relevant. And the concept is, there will always be a genre of music that will capsulate the culture, and the filling of the youth, the filling of the times, and the music that will be a reflection of the times. Now in subtitles and subsidiary positions of what that is, So basically leaves off the branch of the same tree will be known as others, but it will always be that same concept, and that concept is the voice of the youth. So whatever genre they want to put it under, rather it becomes Hyphy, rather it becomes something similar to what HBK is doing and things like that, I think better to answer that question more from a way that would make me comfortable would be “who is in control of the microphone, that is releasing the voices now?”, I would say Iamsu, I would say Nef the Pharaoh, RBE X SOB, Mozzy, and a lot of these other guys that are the voice of the culture.
Jw: Do you think up and coming bay area artist should create a new wave, or create our own version of the Hyphy movement?
F.A.B: Nah just live life man, and paint life as you see it. And whatever people want to call it, that's what it will be called. Cause even if you want to say, “oh yeah we gonna retro this, were gonna do this, and bring this back,” We can't go chase the waterfalls of our past, Cause some of those wells have dried up. But we can create and be responsible for what we do in our future. So continue to paint your perspective as you see it. And when it goes to down in history books, it will be recorded as, this what it was at the current times of that time. We can never go back and reenact 2005, 2006 cause that is behind us. No one has a time machine, no one has the ability to go to the past. But you can rekindle it. artfully. But the best thing is, to paint life as you see it man. Be an artist. When we go back and look at Michelangelo and look at picasso and when we look at some of their paintings from the sistine chapel, and all of these things that were such beautiful art of these times, we don't go back and try to do that again, were marveled at the fact that they were able to do thru those times, How they were able to create those paintings and illustrations at that time. When we talk about the pyramids and things like that, there are people that still can't rebuild those things, there stilled puzzled and mind boggled about the access they had to be able to construct these things. So just allow a person to be marveled at your own perspective.
The Hyphy movement holds a very strong legacy in the bay area. It has created many pathways for local artist such as myself to be creative and express our art in a fun way. Even though we are not living in the 2000s, the Hyphy spirit is still very relevant in our era today. As we continue to have fun and make good music, The hyphy movement will continue to live.