What is hip-hop’s all-out dive into Molly Mania missing? The dancing and singing and scatting and sometimes even rapping of Fabo, Atlanta’s preeminent popping-pills-before-it-was-cool MC. Best known for his eccentric work with D4L (they of the 2006 hit “Laffy Taffy”), he also enjoyed a brief but kind-of-classic solo run soon thereafter, built on a mesmerizing mythology of pill popping, screwball partying, and the shenanigans of a pervasive dealer named Scotty (birthed on a D4L track by the same name), all hovering around the word “gik” (as in, “geeked up”). That period yielded one masterpiece, 2008’s Gik Tales, which includes the infectious “I Just Gotta Dance” and the rave-rap jam “Put Some Gik,” and generally comes across as a solid hour of raps filled out by Fabo’s out-of-control ad-lib (including his distinctly pained-sounding “Oh!”) and a sing-song flow that imagines David Ruffin if he were rollin’ on the verge of tears. Not that Juicy J hadn’t already established a sturdy career out of beating his brain up with weed and pills, then clowning around about it, but modern-day, Taylor Gang-era Juicy — a more fun-loving and non-threatening version of his former self — seems to have more than a little Fabo in him.
An important element to Fabo’s buggy, druggy music is a pre-Ab Soul Enter the Void-esque sense of it all being a little too much for the guy. His songs often find him sweating or rolling around on the floor like a newborn baby, fighting off cartoon-hallucinogenic images. (On “Put Some Gik,” he boasts of hard-partying with Medusa.) Back in March, Fool’s Gold Records’ A-Trak penned a Huffington Post editorial that bemoaned hip-hop’s current lean-and-molly obsession; he dubbed it rap’s “psychedelic phase,” expressing grown-up frustration with the music’s refusal to address the real-life experience of drugging. Though there’s an alarmist tone to A-Trak’s argument — which ignores the palpable dread lurking in Mike Will Made It’s drug-drunk productions — consequences are indeed shockingly absent in modern-day drug-heavy hip-hop. That isn’t true of Fabo, though, who seems just a few bad vibes away from losing his mind.
And so yesterday, he returned to show lightweight molly rappers how to do it right with “Catch Me on That Molly,” from an upcoming mixtape with the appropriately “woah, bro” title of We Amongst U. This came after his nutty, unexpected cameo on Trinidad James’ “Quez” last week (the hook: “I’m too fucked up!” over and over again) refamiliarized folks with Fabo, after he walked into the song with the operatic, late Scott Walker-sounding declaration, “I’m still seeing spaceships on Bankhead.” Even though the guy seems to be forever snappin’ in outer space (verily, he’s the Sun Ra of ringtone rap), his drug raps are pulled back to Earth by a focus on the sensory and very on-one sensitivity to the limits of his own body. (“Fuck the Waffle House, I can’t eat, bitch.”) Sure, it’s supported by silly, surrealist boasts — he says he’s with “a bitch taller than Manute Bol,” and positions himself as Robert Johnson on ecstasy, ready to “get loaded and fight the devil” — but the more lasting takeaway here is a thrilling but horrifying sense of danger: “See, I live in Atlanta where the gik is still exploding / It’s insane/ When I don’t remember my name, I close my eyes and I deal with this pain / And I bite on this chain, while I’m wiping the sweat from my eyes / Man, I feel like I’m stuck in the Matrix / I keep telling myself that I’m high / Everything is all right, I’m gonna be up all night.”
Like Chance the Rapper’s Acid Rap, whose mix of nostalgia and microscopic details accurately reflect the acid experience, “Catch Me on That Molly” finally forces rap to apply its obsession with “real talk” to all this rampant drug use. We need more drug-taker rap. We’ve got enough drug-dealer rap, that’s for sure.