INTERVIEW: Don Diva's Ryan Smith Chops It Up With Philly Goon Ar-Ab!!

Written By: Ryan Smith

One name that came up during the Meek Mill vs. Drake situation was that of AR-AB. Drake invoked his name in his “Back 2 Back” freestyle, and people started wondering what the deal was. While Drake did not sign AB to his OVO imprint, as was rumored, he used AR-AB’s name to gain leverage in the battle, knowing that AB is a revered figure on both Philadelphia’s rap scene and in its streets. Though AB hadn’t said anything, Meek took time to diss Ab on stage. This sparked a lyrical war between AR-AB’s OBH and Meek Mill’s Dream Chasers, with both sides firing wildly at each other.

Hailing from the rough-and-tumble North Philadelphia neighborhood, AR-AB is another Philly emcee,  but he’s not your everyday rapper. Self-proclaimed as the “Top Goon of Philly” (a claim that is never challenged), AR-AB has lived the rhymes he spits. He has stood tall of four different jail bids, for charges ranging from aggravated assault, attempted murder and murder. He also was shot 13 times, eating ten shots in one sitting in 2012. His survival is evidence that a higher power wants him here for something greater.

Now, in the words of AB’s favorite lyricist, Beanie Sigel, “All them cracks and the gats, left that life alone. It’s the tracks and the raps and the microphone.” AB has garnered quite a following with his MUD (Motivation Under Distress) Musik, a style accented with hard, booming beats and even harder rhymes. Five of AR-AB’s mixtapes have charted on DatPiff. His mixtapes, I See Dead People (2009), Allegheny Ab (2010) and Who Harder Than Me (2011) have gained  “bronze” designations, with over 25,000 downloads each. His more recent releases, Who Harder Than Me 2 (2012) and M.U.D. Musik (2013) saw even more success, reaching “silver” status with over 50,000 downloads each. With his OBH (Original Block Hustlaz) squadron, such as Dark Lo, Lik Moss and Breezy Begets in the wing, King AB has a full-fledged movement in the streets of Philly and beyond, ready to go.

We caught up with AR-AB as he was in New York City, filming the video for his latest single, “You Musta Heard” featuring Stacks Ruega. Hear what the Top Goon has to say below.

Ar Ab 2

What was life like for you, growing up in North Philly?

It was cool. I grew up in a family. My pop had a name in the street. He was a street nigga. Everyone respected my pop. My big brother died, so I had to take care of everything on my own. I had little brothers, so I carried the shit. I carried it how I’m supposed to carry it, know what I mean? I grew up on a crack block, where the drug dealers sell crack at. It was one of the biggest crack blocks in the neighborhood. It was constant crack fiends, gunshots, people getting shot. All that type of stuff going on.

You graduated at 16?

I got my diploma and shit when I was 16. I left high school and went into a program called Job Corps. I got my diploma and my plumbing trade when I was 16.

Then you inherited your block, right? How did that come about?

I inherited the block because of one of my best friends. He came from my neighborhood. His brother got killed and his dad got killed all around the same time. It was too much beef going in my hood and he didn’t want to fuck with it. He said he had already made enough money and I was like, “Give it to me,” and I took on responsibility of everything.

What does it take to be the “Top Goon of Philly?”

I call myself the Top Goon, because I raised all the shooters in my neighborhood. In my neighborhood, all the shooters, they came from under me. If it was their first package or their first whatever, it came from me. They all came from under me.

Why hasn’t anyone tried to check you on that?

Because there’s like 150-200 of us. We have a reputation, you know what I’m saying? I was locked up for murders and shit before. It’s not just me. My little brothers is worse than me. Everybody know that.

What is MUD Musik?

MUD Musik is the culture that I started in Philly. You got your Trap Music, you got your Hyphy Music, you got your your down South Screw Music. In Philly we got MUD Musik, because we all come from the mud. In Philly, everybody’s fucked up. I just want to motivate the people, man. I want to show them like there’s other shit out here than taking a life, know what I’m saying?

Do you do anything for the community? What have you done for the kids?

I’ve passed out a lot of shit to the kids. I’m supposed to do another jawn next month, passing out coats and school supplies and shit. I went and spoke to schools and all that shit.

How many spots is OBH in right now?

I’m out Long Island right now. We starting a whole OBH Long Island right now. OBH New York and shit. We’re out in London, in Europe. We got OBH in Baltimore. We got OBH in Cali. We got OBH’s all over.

What does it take to get all these dudes from different places down with your movement?

A lot of niggas want to be down with real niggas, know what I’m saying?

What’s the status with the Meek Mill situation?

I don’t know how it is. Nigga said fuck me, so we can never be friends again. I don’t know how it is, we can figure it out, man. It’s however he wants to play it. I ain’t chasing the the lil’ nigga or nothing, but we ain’t running from nothing. However he plays it, let’s handle it. We’re trying to get in our bag, but at the end of the day, we gotta get to it when we get to it. I’m with that. I’m all about that. I went to jail for that, you know what I’m saying? If he wants to dead it, we can dead it. If he wants to play, we can play.

What do you have on deck?

I just dropped the single, “You Musta Heard.” We shot the video today. It’s probably coming out this week or the beginning of next week. Then we’re shooting another video for “We Are Not The Same.” I’m not the same as these other niggas. I don’t give a fuck what you did. I don’t care if you sold drugs, shot niggas, whatever. You not like me. I’m different.

What do you bring to the game that you feel is missing?

I’m one of the guys who really lived that life, and I can tell you bit by bit and break down piece by piece, and I really know how to rap. You got people who know how to rap good, but don’t live that life. You got people that live that life, but don’t know how to rap good. I live that life and I rap good.

So, what are you looking to do? Do you want to get signed?

Right now, we’re just pushing. We’re getting shows. I trying to set up my little tour. Record deals will come, but we’re not focused on that right now.

Is there anything you want the people to know about AR-AB?

I want everybody to know AR-AB is not a bully. I don’t bully nobody. I don’t start the problems, I finish it. I don’t start nothing. I finish everything, though. Start with me, and you gonna what get what’s called for.

Follow AR-Ab on Twitter at @AssaultRifleAB and on Instagram at @ar_ab_32


Author Ryan Smith is a writer for Don Diva Magazine/ and has contributed to publications such as The Philadelphia Weekly, Complex Magazine, Ebony, among others. Follow him on twitter @mewefree



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