Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Interview by Nida Siddiqui

Nida interviewed me sometime in 2009...don't exactly remember when. Anywayz, here is the article she wrote.


By Nida Siddiqui

It’s late in the afternoon as I walk into a Second Cup, located on the corner of Bloor and Spadina. I scan the faces in the busy café, in search of one of Toronto’s best kept secrets. I’m meeting with local rap artist Daniel Farb, better known as MC Fübb (pronounced ‘foob’). Writing poetry since he was nine years old, Fübb is now in the process of launching his hip hop career with the release of his debut album, titled Foundations. I finally spot him seated in the corner with a cup of peppermint tea on the table in front of him. As I pull back a chair to sit down, he stops me and suggests we move somewhere less noisy.

Fübb and I wander down Spadina in search of a quiet place to chat, while he tells me about his day so far. He slept in this morning, got up, took care of some online business, checked his email, and submitted some of his songs to a radio station. Later, he paid a visit to his father. “I got him to sell some CDs for me,” Fübb explained. “He’s a lawyer so he sold them to the other lawyers in his office.”

I asked him how his parents feel about their son being a rapper.

“My parents both support what I’m doing.”

Having just obtained a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Toronto, Fübb drastically changed his career path and opted for something less conventional than most of his peers. Fübb’s mother was a bit surprised about the change. Up until that point she assumed that his music was just a hobby. “I said to her, you’re the one that told me I can be whatever I want, and she said ‘yeah, I’m worried that you took me seriously.” He laughs. “I said, I did, so I hope you were telling the truth.”

He leads me into the Hillel building at UofT. I read a sign that says, Centre for Jewish Campus Life. Fübb, who describes himself as a very spiritual person, was a member of Alpha Epsilon Pi, a Jewish fraternity that would often meet in the Hillel building. We sit down in a cozy student lounge area with black leather sofas and a large flat screen TV. It’s nice and quiet here.

He offers me a copy of his CD, saying he normally sells it for ten dollars, but he’ll give it to me for five. I say sure and take a copy. One of his pet peeves, he explains to me, are those people who say to him that they support him, but then aren’t willing to pay five dollars for his CD. “That’s just a blatant contradiction,” he says. “There was this one person though that I asked, ‘why don’t you want to buy it?’ He says to me, ‘because I’m cheap,’ and I appreciated that because it was honest.”

To sell his album, Fübb is taking on a grassroots approach, involving himself, family, and friends. “I just sold a hundred out of my backpack in the past couple of weeks. I want to sell a thousand in the next four months.”

Realizing I have no cash with me, I make a mental note to remember to stop by a bank machine on our way out. I didn’t want to be one of ‘those people’.

“So what’s keeping you busy lately? What are you doing now”, I ask.

He smiles and answers, “I’m doing lots of things.”

“My focus is getting my career off the ground and just living the life of a hip hop MC, a professional hip hop MC. I wrote that on my business card and since I said it, I’ve started being that. I got my album out now, I’m selling the album, I’m performing wherever I can, setting up a team around me to handle the business side of the music, rather than me doing it, so I can focus more on writing and recording and doing what I actually want to do. I’m doing a lot of other stuff outside of that, but that’s the main focus.”

Very quickly, I get the sense that this career choice isn’t a joke for him. He’s serious about it and his dedication comes through loud and clear. In describing the experience of recording in a studio, he explains, “You go in there and that’s like going to the office, and time is money. You’re paying by the hour and you’re working… It can be fun at times, but it’s more meticulous. You want to make it the best you possibly can, so you go there as prepared as you can be, and just do your thing.”

I try to garner Fübb’s thoughts on the current state of hip hop. He seems disappointed in the selection of artists that are prevalent in the mainstream media, and comments on the perception audiences have of the genre.

“People will say, ‘oh hip hop, that’s about money, drugs, hoes, guns, and ice.’ No, that’s what people are using hip hop to say. It’s not hip hop itself… It can manifest that way, and it does by and large, but it can also be maybe a million other things.” He expands by quoting an underground rapper, J-Live, who says, “It’s like there are 31 flavours of hip hop and most people are only given the choice of chocolate and vanilla.”

In terms of the music industry in general, Fübb has a lot to say.

“I’m cynical about the status quo and how incredibly low the bar is set for what is considered playable on the radio. Not only is the bar set low, but its set so low that anything that doesn’t conform to that bar is not considered, even if it’s better.”

We’re interrupted briefly as a man by the name of Kromar passes by and says hello. I learn that he produced the song, Piece of Mind, on Fübb’s album.

“Sorry, what were we talking about?”

I say, “You were telling me that radio sucks.” He chuckles.

“Yeah, I don’t know. It’s mostly garbage. There’s not much musicality to it at all. It’s just…this is what’s gonna get your head bobbing for the next five minutes in the club. I think in general people just want to numb out when they listen to music, they just want to be taken to a very simple state. It’s almost like being inebriated… I think the music itself and that whole response, that’s a symptom of a very sick society in a lot of ways, if you really want to numb out from reality rather than do something about the reality that you don’t like. That’s the view I have on the majority of people, at least within hip hop. And that being said, I don’t really care where the industry is at because I don’t let it define what I’m doing. I might talk about it, but I’m going to do and push what I want to push out there regardless.”

Despite his cynicism for mainstream radio, Fübb insists that he doesn’t focus on the annoyances. He is actually very hopeful for things to come. His album, Foundations, is a mix of eight diverse and often intense tracks describing who he is, his thoughts on music, and his outlook on life.

Fübb is dedicated to creating a cohesive hip hop and indie community in Toronto. He started an event called Bring it to the Cypher, where local artists including emcees, rappers, break dancers, and DJs, all come together in the street and display their creativity and talents for the public. Fübb is the host of the event, which takes place every couple of months, and encourages artists to network with one another and build their careers together.

As students begin entering the room, we start to wrap up our discussion. I look at the individual I’ve been sitting with for the past hour. Fübb has a wisdom and optimism to him that makes it hard for anyone to believe that he is only 23 years old. I get the feeling that he is genuinely happy about his career choice, and has a strong willingness to reach out to other people, to understand them, and to inspire them.

“I can pursue any career that I want,” he says at one point, “but this is the one I’m passionate about. This is the way that I feel I can make the biggest difference in the world. That inspires me more than anything… If this is really what I want to do, it’s the only thing that’s going to fulfill me in my life, and I don’t want to live a life that doesn’t fulfil me.”

"Shadow Gallery" by Noyz

Peep the new album by the homie Noyz - Shadow Gallery.

Noyz and I are collaborating on a next project, "In the Face of No Agreement."

REAL HIP HOP. Check it.