FatKidsBrotha doesn't always write out of outrage
But when they do, you better listen
With the Aug. 20 release of "Riot," FatKidsBrotha, made up of half brothers Light Skin Mac 11, 24, and DavE, 25, became the latest hip-hop act to respond to the alarming events in Ferguson, Mo., where a police officer fatally shot unarmed teen Michael Brown on Aug. 9. Protests against a militarized local police force followed Brown's death. The song is grim and timely, particularly because of Light Skin Mac 11's (pictured left) lyrics: "Lord knows I'm Trayvon when they come around and Mike Brown when they gun me down/a scumbag 'cause I'm almost brown."
FatKidsBrotha doesn't always write out of outrage. The Spin-spotlighted "Magic," featuring Miloh Smith off its 2013 mixtape Eastside Paradise II, is a sun-baked ode to a stress-free lifestyle. Light Skin Mac 11 is the one with the blunt rhymes, who briefly shouts out to those who haven't made it yet. DavE isn't afraid to show off: "You know how I run in 24K, get excited/When we pull up like I'm Midas, everything got touches of gold."
FatKidsBrotha tends to focus its energy on riding anthems inspired by Dr. Dre's G-funk sound, though they keep things mellow enough for the graveyard shift. The half brothers' favorite songs they've released both have a twinge of sadness. DavE's is "40oz.," an Alicia Keys-sampling ode to how "ghetto champagne" relieves them both of stress. Light Skin Mac 11's is "Snooki," a track off Eastside Paradise that contains shout-outs to deceased friends.
The duo tries not to dwell on the past. Both respond vaguely when asked how they became mistrustful of authority figures while growing up in Detroit. DavE's father, a drug dealer, was killed the same year that Kwame Kilpatrick — once a rising political star who's now serving 28 years in prison for public corruption — was re-elected mayor.
"If a mayor of a city can be so corrupt and bankrupt a city and have people get killed — there's no safety, really," DavE says.
Light Skin Mac 11 says he doesn't want to talk to or even about police, but does sum up a chat he once had with Ludacris' manager, Chaka Zulu: "The people policing the neighborhoods, they're not from the neighborhoods."
When it came to the events in Ferguson, FatKidsBrotha felt compelled to speak up through the music. DavE laid down the hook and his verse for "Riot" six months before Brown's death. When he heard about the Aug. 9 shooting via Twitter, he told Light Skin Mac 11, who hadn't yet recorded his verse.
"I saw that Brown lay there for four hours," Light Skin Mac 11 says. "Everyone should be pissed. Everyone should be speaking out."