On Jan. 5, 2006, Atlanta-based hip-hop crew D4L dethroned Mariah Carey for the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 with their smash hit, "Laffy Taffy." The track, produced by Born Immaculate (Cory Way), Broderick Thompson Smith, and K-Rab (Richard Sims) and recorded by Fabo, Mook-B, Stoney, and Shawty Lo, was featured on their first and only album, Down for Life, released in November 2005 via Atlantic/Asylum Records.
It'd go on to break the 2007 Guinness World Record for most downloaded song in the history of music, flood the charts for weeks, and become one of the biggest hip-hop tracks of the decade. Back in 2013, we named D4L one of the 10 major influences on today's rap sound, and it's without a doubt that Fabo's legacy shines bright. Just ask Young Thug, whose hit "Stoner" references Fabo time and time again.
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of "Laffy Taffy" hitting the top of the charts today, we hopped on the phone with Fabo who was down in Atlanta working in the studio. He's been churning out some new music over the years and plans to release a brand new project in a month or so. Fabo details the making of "Laffy Taffy," what D4L is up to these days, and how he views his legacy in the rap game.
Where did the idea for "Laffy Taffy" come from?
We were doing a lot of crazy gangster music all the time. We were from a bad neighborhood. We were in the strip club one night—we were at Babes, that's where it goes down—and we brought a couple of girls back to the studio, and I was just in the booth saying something like, "Tootsie roll," at first, and was like, "Nah." I had this piece of candy in my pocket and pulled it out and said, "Girl, shake that Laffy Taffy." And from there, we just perfected it. It was just that moment.
You literally got the idea from pulling a piece of Laffy Taffy out of your pocket?
Definitely. Everybody who know me know I'm the candy man. I always have some candy in my pocket. If you run into me and are like, "Yo, give me some candy," I guarantee I have some candy for you.
Was it recorded all in one night?
I was actually alone when I first came up with the concept but when me and K-Rab [Richard Sims] linked up the next morning, he did the beat to the track the next morning. Then people started to come in and that was it.
Did you know it was going to be a hit?
Actually I hated the song. I swear to God, I hated the song. I could remember Shawty Lo calling home from jail saying, "Don't put that song out!" [Laughs.] Me and all of the kids were doing the dance and we were so stuck on that or whatever but dealing with Mike Caren over at Atlantic and Johnny Cabell, they were like, "Let's just go for it." We were doing shows at the time, and "Laffy Taffy" was taking over the shows before it was even out. We would perform "Laffy Taffy" and it would kill the "Betcha Can't Do It Like Me."
How did you come up with the dance?
My grandaddy used to do that little dance all the time, you can do it to any beat, and he used to always be up doing that dance. And he used to say that too, "Betcha can't do it like me, youngin." Unfortunately he wasn't alive to see it happen, but I know he was smiling down on me smiling like hell. "Laffy Taffy" means shaking your behind, I just got tired of people saying booty, and I wanted to come up with another name on it.
Did you ever officially premiere it?
We went on the road and Asylum Records sent us on the road and "Laffy Taffy" took over. When Down for Life was released in November, it was our primary goal to promote "Laffy Taffy." We went all over. We were literally like The Five Heartbeats promoting this song, passing the microphone back and forth to each other. We never officially released it, I think it just jumped off with the album.
What was it like seeing it blow up?
I was in heaven that whole time. I was in awe. You could've pinched me 100 times, I'm still dreaming.
Did you still hate it?
Actually being on the road performing it, it started getting real fun. I grew to love it.
Tell me about the day of the video shoot.
The video was crazy though, right? My car broke down on the way to the video shoot. I'm out there—if you see my outfit that I had on in the video, I literally stopped at the mall right before the video shoot and had to buy all new clothes because I was drenched in sweat. I had to wait on someone to come get me, the video shoot was 45 minutes away, and everybody was screaming at me when I pulled up. Somebody started spraying me with a watergun. [Laughs.] I was sweating bad. I don't think I stopped sweating the whole video shoot. I think somebody had a blow dryer like, "Come on, come blowdry Fabo." The video shoot was really fun, it was a party. The girls were very nice. [Laughs.] That was one of the first places I did that leg thing—I just said it in the song and I was like, "Wow I can wipe this out." That was one of the first places I did it.
Can you still do the leg move to this day?
Oh definitely, I can hit flips, all that.
What was it like seeing it climb the charts?
I just remember going to all the different radio stations, and they had us No. 1 everywhere. I thought it was just a joke, I was like, "They're just joking the kids from the South." It wasn't until I got to New York—the Mecca—and we were No. 1 there and I was like, 'This ain't no joke." When we got to New York and L.A. and saw the love we were getting, all the DJs were treating us with mad respect, I knew something was going on then.
Did you celebrate it going No. 1?
Believe it or not, we're such hood cats, I don't think it resonated where we were until we made the Guinness Book of World Records [for most downloaded song in the history of music in 2007], It was ridiculous at the time.
Where's the craziest place you've ever performed "Laffy Taffy?"
Mexico. Craziest place. We got robbed, man. We was in this condo on this dirty beach—rocks everywhere, it was beautiful, but it was dirty. You couldn't play in that water. Someone tipped someone off that we were there before the show, and we were coming out the gate and people were yelling, "Hide your jewelry!" I think Shawty Lo in some kind of way got to Texas and got home and dipped. It was crazy. We went on and performed and rocked the house. There was 10,000 people, but we got robbed. They took everything they found.
At the time, did you feel like people weren't taking you seriously?
We just come from where people have nothing. So, all the talk and hoopla, if you grew up and your mama was on drugs, daddy on drugs, your rent is $65, the world really ain't there until you step out into it. When we stepped out a little ignorant, naive at the same time, I don't think it really bothered us. We just really didn't care what people said. At times, it'd get to you that people don't get your struggle. But trying to explain it to someone ignorant is just gonna make you as ignorant as they are.
What's the first big thing you bought with that "Laffy Taffy" money?
A big house, 10,000 square feet, indoor swimming pool, long driveway. I moved up to North Georgia in the house, but I stayed in a condo in the city. I never really slept [at the house]. I swear there were ghosts in there. [Laughs.] I swear, the doors would just shut every now and then.
I believe you.
Hey, I don't know, I swear nobody is closing doors for another door to close.
I thought my childhood house was haunted because doors would just slam.
What?! It's scary just trying to tell people, "I see ghosts in my house," when I already say, "I see spaceships." [Laughs.] It's crazy, man.
When you look back on your legacy now, do you think you still get the proper credit?
Your everlasting life is your name. I listen to the radio nowadays and all I hear is "I'm geeked up" or "I'm Fabo," and I think the good Lord blessed me and I did my job, so to speak. I'm just trying to add on to my legacy and keep it going. I've been around the world myself, and this is coming from a guy who dropped out of school and didn't care about the world or whatever, I learned to live in it and love it.
That's what happened with Young Thug's "Stoner." Didn't you guys have a collab in the works?
Yeah! I was so busy, I went overseas, and went back on tour. When I came back over here, bought a house, but this cat, he's in the wind now, and it's hard to catch up with him. He's always showed me love, but we just haven't had a chance to sit down and get it done. Everybody shows me the same matter of respect so I love that. We need that collab. [Laughs.]
Is everyone in D4L still close?
Yeah! We're brothers. We never broke up, the group just disbanded. But as friends, we all still go to the same BBQs, we play Spades everyday. We're just real dudes. When it get too thick in the kitchen, you gotta learn that it's a whole house, it's not all about the kitchen.
How's Shawty Lo?
He's probably home, just waking up right now. I talked to him the day before yesterday, he's good. I talked to him when I was in Detroit for the Geeked Up challenge.
I saw that on Twitter.
It's crazy. I went and judged the contest up there, just to get a feel for it and visit some dispensaries.
How were the dispensaries?
Great. They were great.
What else are you up to these days?
Me and Lo record all the time, he's like a big brother to me. Me and Lo gotta lot of songs, me and Mook-B got a song here or there. I've got my own company and have some artists I'm working with. I'm an international entrepreneur. Too busy nowadays—it's just Fabo, Fabo, Fabo sometimes. I'm trying to put an EP together, trying to get it out next month and I'm going to Japan this month on tour, trying to get a few of these singles to pop off.
When you're on tour by yourself, do you still perform "Laffy Taffy?"
Yeah, I perform "Laffy Taffy," I perform "Betcha Can't Do It Like Me." I gotta give the fans what they want.