Fashawn Interview

Label:Mass Appeal
Next Project:Boy Meets World
Twitter:Fashawn on Twitter
Website:Fashawn's Website

In recent months, the Booth has been abuzz over the burgeoning West Coast revival, spearheaded by such talented artists as Nipsey Hussle, Pac Div and U-N-I (to name just a few). Another major player in the growing movement, Fashawn is an up-and-comer we know very well. With an acclaimed mixtape discography stretching back to the age of 15 and a long list of reader-approved features (including exclusive freestyle “Midnight Groove”) under his belt, the 20-year-old emcee has accumulated a sizable fanbase in the Booth. Now, the Fresno, Calif., native is preparing to introduce himself to listeners across the nation with the release of his hotly anticipated debut full-length, Boy Meets World.

Created in collaboration with veteran beatsmith and fellow Cali native Exile, the long-awaited set will find Fashawn spitting his life story to date, chronicling his growth from a ‘90s baby into one of’ 09’s most promising young hip-hop talents. Heralded by single “Life As a Shorty” and equally Booth-acclaimed bonus track “The Outer City,” Boy Meets World is set to drop Oct. 20, via One Records

In an exclusive interview with our own DJZ,” Fashawn steps into the Booth to discuss the pros and cons of growing up, the inspiration behind his new, Alchemist-produced The Antidote mixtape, and why he’s confident that his potentially-classic debut studio album will only be the beginning of a long and illustrious musical career.

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Fashawn Interview Transcription

DJ Booth:  What’s goin’ on, everybody? It’s your boy, “Z, ” doin’ it real big, and joining me inside the DJ Booth is a Fresno, California native who has graced our homepage at DJBooth.net 13 times in the last year. The emcee whose”Midnight Groove” freestyle is one of the top downloaded entries in our ongoing freestyle series, please welcome my man, Fashawn – how you doin?

Fashawn:  I’m doin’ great Z, how you doin’, man?

DJ Booth:  I am feeling wonderful.

Fashawn:  So, did you say 13 times?

DJ Booth:  Yeah, thirteen times in the last calendar year.

Fashawn:  Aw, man, that’s crazy. I’ve gotta do my research!

DJ Booth:  I had to do my research just to see how many times we featured you. Thirteen says a lot about what you’ve got goin’ on.

Fashawn:  Well, I’ve got a lot goin’ on. I do a lot of work.

DJ Booth:  Absolutely. Whenever I have a conversation with a fellow industry head or DJ, I always ask them who they’re feeling from the West Coast right now, and inevitably, your name is always provided in that answer. So, how does it feel, knowing that the spotlight is fast approaching your direction at all angles?

Fashawn:  Man, it feels incredible, ‘cause I’ve been preppin’ myself for this for years, bein’ in the studio and tourin’ and just hittin’ up all these places and tryin’ to win over crowds every night. And it just goes to show you that none of that work was in vain, and that people are takin’ notice. It’s a good feeling.

DJ Booth:  Does it make you nervous?

Fashawn:  No, I haven’t felt that feeling in a while. Maybe except for last night – I was onstage with I don’t know how many emcees, and there were some great emcees, and it was like a cipher. That was probably the first time in a while but other than that, nah.

DJ Booth:  One of our reporters, Erica L., was at your listening session in New York this past April. She wrote an article that said that your sound reminded her a lot of Kanye West in his more humble beginning days, if you will. Do you agree with her comparison, or is she just way off-base?

Fashawn:  I wouldn’t say I sound like Kanye West or nothing like that. I mean, I don’t know. I don’t have an answer for that one. That’s her opinion, I respect that and I appreciate it. And peace to Kanye West, you know, much respect to Kanye West. He had a huge influence on what I do now, but I wouldn’t say I sound like Kanye West.

DJ Booth:  Next month, as everybody knows, you are set to finally release your debut album, Boy Meets World.

Fashawn:  Finally!

DJ Booth:  “Finally” is right. Describe how you turned your own journey into manhood into this full-length LP.

Fashawn:  It all came together, man. It was just natural, ‘cause I was already in the process of recording music. We really decided to do an album when I did a song called “The Outer City” with Exile. That was the first record I did with him. I was just talking about my first job, and we kept goin’, and every song was just a part. It was real personal. At the time, I had already done mixtapes, and I was like, “What am I gonna say now?” All those mixtapes kinda stripped me down to the bone. I had to really come from a genuine place. I just went deep, and I dug in, from ‘88 and then on from there, and talked about everything I’d seen and experienced. And that’s how it came together, the full-length LP.

DJ Booth:  You mentioned briefly Exile, who produced the entire project.

Fashawn:  Yeah.

DJ Booth:  Did you find it easy or challenging working with only one person on this album?

Fashawn:  It was more challenging than anything. ‘Cause everything else I had done, there were multiple styles of production but, workin’ with Exile, he really makes you step your game up, ‘cause his beats are cinematic, they’re almost like movies. You can’t just hop on an Exile beat and talk about how fly your shoes are, that kind of sh*t, you know?

DJ Booth:  He makes you step your game up…

Fashawn:  Yeah, man. But it was definitely a challenge I was up for. It came out great.

DJ Booth:  You only worked with one producer on the album but, in the future, you’ll work with lots of producers. Who do you look forward to hopping in the studio with the most?

Fashawn:  Wow… I mean, I’ve worked with some great people thus far. I wanna get with Large Professor. I’ve been in the studio with him, but I haven’t got to actually work with him. I wanna work with Large Professor, this cat named Salaam Remi who I think is really dope. Dangermouse, he’s pretty ill too. A lot of people, man – everybody I haven’t collaborated with yet.

DJ Booth:  So, anybody listening, if you’re a producer and you have not collaborated with Fashawn, you’re on his list.

Fashawn:  Yes, please. Battle Cats, Blaze, ‘Ye, Primo, Pete Rock – all y’all.

DJ Booth:  That’s a nice lineup right there.

Fashawn:  I think it’s pretty solid

DJ Booth:  On the single “Life As a Shorty, ” the female hook singer who collaborates with you sings, “Mama I’ll be all right, let me just do my thing.” Fashawn, when you decided to put all your time and your energy behind becoming an emcee, was there any resistance from your family?

Fashawn:  Not really. Like, my family was very supportive. I’ve been wanting to do this since I was, like, 12 or 11. It went from a stage where it was like, “Oh, you’re just a little kid - go to school, ” then it went to, “OK, you’ve got talent, ” then it’s like, “Oh, man!” Now they’re reading newspapers and magazines, like, “OK, stick with it! Keep going!” It went through all those different stages; it was a gradual process. Now it’s all good, they’re rooting for me.

DJ Booth:  Are you 20, or are you 21 right now?

Fashawn:  I don’t know if I wanna talk about that. I’ll just tell you this: Boy Meets World comes the day after my birthday.

DJ Booth:  Okay – the reason I asked is, it leads into this question: do you embrace the true start of manhood, or is there a fear that the youth of your life has ended?

Fashawn:  I embrace it. You’ve gotta let nature take its course, man. You’ve gotta let life happen. It’s about progress, right? That’s how I feel.

DJ Booth:  Do you feel like you grew up too fast?

Fashawn:  I feel like, comin’ from the situation I came from, I was forced to grow up fast in certain avenues of my life, but that’s just stuff I was [faced] with early on. I’m just adapting to other things, like now I’ve gotta start paying taxes. [laughs] Other than that, I’m loving it.

DJ Booth:  Yeah, there are certain parts of growing up that are not fun at all.

Fashawn:  Yeah.

DJ Booth:  Paying taxes, paying bills, responsibilities, they all suck.

Fashawn:  Yeah, yeah, no doubt about that.

DJ Booth:  Fashawn, I read a quote from your bio where you said that “The album, ” and, of course, I’m talking about Boy Meets World, “...will be called a classic.” And history has shown us, particularly with artists like Nas or 50 Cent, whose best work was undoubtedly their debut-

Fashawn:  I said that?

DJ Booth:  In your bio, yeah, it said that you think the album’s gonna be a classic. Did someone misquote you?

Fashawn:  Maybe. I know everybody else is sayin’ that. I don’t think I said my album would be a classic, everyone else did.

DJ Booth:  OK, we’ll take this and spin it. Based on what other people are saying about the album and heralding it as a possible classic, how do you as an emcee ensure that this is merely the first feather in your proverbial cap?

Fashawn:  I’m young – okay, I’m gonna be frank: I’ll be 21, I’ll be at the legal drinking age very soon, and I’ve still got a whole lot of life to experience. If you think that I’m wise now, you think I’m ahead of my time, just watch as time unfolds; this is just the first chapter.

DJ Booth:  We took a bunch of reader questions, and I selected one for today’s interview. It comes from Dan of New Hampshire, and he wrote, “I read that you recently recorded a record with J. Cole. How important is it for you to connect with other up-and-coming artists such as yourself, and what is the experience like?”

Fashawn:  I think me collaborating with my peers is a good thing for hip-hop, just to usher in this new regime of talent that you’re not familiar with from the past decade. It’s good just for hip-hop in general. The experience is good, ‘cause it’s just different energies that [rub off on] each other. It’s good to work with certain artists like J. Cole, U-N-I, or Pac Div. It’s good to see where the next generation’s gonna take it, where their minds are at, and you get to see who can last. It’s a real interesting time, man, right now.

DJ Booth:  I agree completely. As a matter of fact, I just spoke with your fellow West Coast natives, Pac Div.

Fashawn:  Ah, I heard that!

DJ Booth:  I asked them how artists like yourself, Nipsey Hussle, can help to reestablish a sense of both dominance and respect for the West Coast as we move into this next decade. What do you think it’s gonna take?

Fashawn:  It’s gonna take a lot of us. I don’t think one man can do it. It’s gonna take a lot of unity, ‘cause there’s power in numbers. And I guess we’re gonna need to really knock ‘em out with the record sales, man.  I think that counts in today’s game. I can only lead by example, ‘cause I’m still a student of the game.

DJ Booth:  Well, you might be a student, but it seems like you’ve attended plenty of classes and you learned your lessons, so I can tell there’s plenty of education.

Fashawn:  For sure.

DJ Booth:  Earlier this month, as we talked about in our pre-interview, you released the Antidote mixtape with the Alchemist. I want to spin off the title “Antidote;” Fashawn, how can your music help to remedy what’s wrong with the rap game?

Fashawn:  It’s exactly what rap needed, man. [This is] how it came about: I was talkin’ with The Alchemist, and he said, “I’m tired of DJing at parties and havin’ to play this kind of music that I don’t even like, since Top 40’s dominating. I want to do something raw and take it back to the essence.” If you don’t know where it’s been, you don’t know where it’s going.

DJ Booth:  Well, let me tell you. You said you’re a student of the game, but you are wise beyond your years.  Give everybody a website, a MySpace page, a Twitter account, something so that they can find out more about you and, of course, the release of Boy Meets World, out this October.

Fashawn:  Well, if you wanna hit me on Twitter, just type in twitter.com/fashawn. I’m the only one. You know how people’ll be like, “The real” this – no, there ‘s only one Fashawn on Twitter, MySpace the same (myspace.com/fashawn). Or you can go to my website, fashawn.net, and get even more exclusive content. And don’t forget, October 20th man, Boy Meets World.

DJ Booth:  Fashawn, I appreciate you takin’ the time to join me inside the DJBooth, my friend, and I wish you nothing but the best of luck, man.

Fashawn:  No doubt. Thanks for havin’ me in mind, man.

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