Fashawn - Boy Meets World

Posted October 14, 2009
Tags: Fashawn,

They say that pressure makes diamonds, and if that’s true than it goes a long way towards...

Boy Meets World Album Review

They say that pressure makes diamonds, and if that’s true than it goes a long way towards explaining Fashawn’s brilliance. Placed in a group home by child services at the age of 12 while his father was incarcerated and his mother struggled with a drug addiction, Fashawn devoted himself to becoming an ill MC in order to survive. Mission accomplished. At the not-so-tender age of 20 the man has to be considered one of the best young lyricists alive. By contrast, when I was 20 I was mostly focused on figuring out how to get into bars without an ID. Hey, we can’t all be great rappers, just ask Yung Berg.

Sorry, back to the lecture at hand. Fashawn’s been steadily building buzz around his always quality rhymestyle since the age of 17 with a seemingly never-ending series of mixtapes and freestyles. There’s a reason he’s graced our pages at DJBooth an astounding 14 times in the last year. Thankfully he’s now finally ready for the spotlight with the release of his new album Boy Meets World. Produced entirely by Exile, Boy Meets World is the mark of a man who’s determined to not just be good, but great. How good is this album? Let me put it this way. My only real complaint is the complete lack of Boy Meets World (the show) references. Fashawn, you couldn’t have worked in at least one Mr. Feeny or Ben Savage reference? Come on man.

I know, I know, this is a lot of talk without any proof. Fair enough – let’s take a look at Life as a Shorty, a track that not only proves that Fashawn knows his hip-hop history (shout out to Wu-Tang) but shows that he’s got some serious narrative skills as he recaps his young life and explains how those experiences made him the man he is: “while parents was out in the streets, I built the world on a blank sheet.” It’s not complicated, but the track’s strength is in its simplicity. That less-is-more approach can be found consistently throughout the album, most notably on the sparkling Hey Young World. On the production tip Exile gets all 9th Wonder-ish with a soulful piano sample while Fashawn and guest rapper Aloe Blacc get their inspirational lyrics on, with Devoya Mayo’s subtle vocals capping it all off. From the slowly unwinding Stars to the gripping Father, Boy Meets World finds hip-hop hope in a world that can often feel devoid of it.

Don’t get it twisted, Fashawn isn’t afraid to show us his vulnerability, but the man can be pretty damn hard too. Just take Our Way, a militarily paced joint featuring Evidence that finds Fashawn giving his delivery and lyrics an asphalt-lased edge to powerful effect: “Especially where I’m from, we live by the gun, but money over b**tches and die over funds.” As long as we’re on that harder ish, I have to mention Freedom, a track built around a dope Talib Kweli sample that shows Fashawn can pick up the lyrical pace when the situation calls for it, and The Score, the album’s most experimental and darkest track. What’s more, Boy Meets World takes a couple key pauses to get its party on, resulting in the head-nodding Bo Jackson and the Latin-infused Lupita, an ode to a female he can’t get out of his mind. With some rappers the transition between riders like the west coasted Sunny CA and the introspective Stars would sound awkward, but coming out of Fashawn’s mouth they’re simply different sides of the same man.

Ok, let’s take a deep breath. At my most hyperbolic I could compare Fashawn to a young Nas (especially considering the similarity between Boy Meet World’s cover and Nas’ classic Illmatic), but Fashawn’s just not on that level yet. For all his talent his skills are still rough and, most importantly, he has yet to truly develop a style that’s absolutely his own, a task every rapper who wants to be great needs to accomplish. With that said, I can’t remember the last time I was as gripped by the first verse of a song like I was by When She Calls. If Fashawn can continue to make music like Boy Meets World, or better, the sky’s the limit. Here’s hoping he doesn’t see the sky for a long time to come.

DJBooth Rating - 4 Spins

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Posted October 14, 2009
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