Skateboards, T-shirts, weed (medicinal, of course) and rap music. It seems there isn’t much Fresno-bred Fashawn can’t succeed at pushing. The jack-of-all-trades MC, currently putting the finishing touches on his sophomore LP The Ecology, took time out of a studio session with Alchemist and Evidence to give us the scoop on all his business endeavors.
Hit the skip to read the interview.
PIMB: You’ve been back at work with Exile on The Ecology, talk about how that’s going.
Fashawn: Aw, it’s coming together really incredible, man. Exile has progressed so much since the last time we worked together, and I just feel like its an honor to work with him again. Just to see him grow as a producer, and to hear him grow as a lyricist, for us to reunite is real special. The music is coming out incredible, I just can’t wait for The Ecology to be complete. We’re almost to the track list, you know, almost. We still got a few more songs to do, but yeah, The Ecology is comin’ together real nice.
PIMB: Is there less pressure for The Ecology? For Boy Meets World, you were part of the XXL Freshman Class, and the album was being tagged a classic even before it released.
Fashawn: There’s a little pressure, but it’s good pressure. People wanted me to do good, and to perform at an even better level. Actually, I enjoy the challenge, it fuels me to make better music at a level where everyone can receive it.
PIMB: You took a break after Boy Meets World for the birth of your daughter. How is the experience of being a father affecting you as an artist and as a man?
Fashawn: I think it’s affected me more as a man than anything, you know. But as an artist, I definitely dabble on that topic a little more. That’s my everyday life when I’m at home with my daughter, so you know, sometimes I touch on it from that perspective. It’s a beautiful thing though, I’m not just doin’ this for me anymore, now it’s for the fam. It’s for the feed. I could be doing a lot of other things, but I choose to be doing this. It’s for her. That’s how I feed her.
PIMB: In the meantime, you released a few mixtapes, but what else were you doing to occupy the time?
Fashawn: Been collaboratin’, workin’ with companies on T-shirts, having my skateboard in stores, and touring a lot. I’ve also been doin’ bigger festivals, like Rock The Bells, and I toured Europe this year, had my first headlining tour. I’ve been busy the whole time. People said I took a break, but I stay on my grind all the time.
PIMB: The t-shirt collab is with Orisue, how’d that come about?
Fashawn: I had a relationship with Orisue from when I put out the One Shot One Kill mixtape with Mick Boogie and Terry Urban back in the day, and we just kept in contact from there. I’ve been gettin them a lot of love from where I’m from. I guess they saw that, recognized it, and wanted to do a collaboration. We had this idea to pay homage to Slick Rick[‘s 1989 photo by Janette Beckman], but put a twist on it with the styrofoam cups and champagne. It really came together evolving into something bigger from that small idea about the picture, and is coming together really well.
PIMB: I saw you’ve been on Twitter trying to get creative ideas for the Orisue collab. How important is the fans input for that process?
Fashawn: Once you get the fans involved, you get to use their ideas and build with them. To have them be be a part of what you do, makes teh connection better. For me, knowing what they want and being able to deliver that, it feels good when I can deliver and it’s successful. And I’m eager to know what people think about what we’re doing over here, I started out just rapping, so this is the next step, and a new step. It’s a big step for me.
PIMB: You also have another business venture, endorsing some medical plants.
Fashawn: Yeah, the herb, that’s just somethin’ we do out here in Central California, it’s really heavy. Someone said it’s like a $2 billion industry. It’s real tough. This select shop, they approached me about the idea of naming a strand after me, and after my movement.
PIMB: That can’t be too hard of a product to push.
Fashawn: As far as I know, it can’t stay on the shelves. It’s name Grizzly City Kush, and it’s pretty cool. It’s the best thing since pants with pockets.
PIMB: That’s dope. On top of the business side, you managed to put out a few mixtapes (Higher Learning 2, Grizzly City 3, and Ode To Illmatic) which featured a lot of classic beats. How’d you pick those specific beats, and what kind of response have you gotten from the artists?
Fashawn: I really just rhyme on what I’m feeling, especially with Ode To Illmatic and Grizzly City 3. I just did what I felt, I didn’t feel like I was in album mode, I felt like I was trying to find my next sound, experimenting with different beats and sounds. As far as the artists, when I see ‘em they show me love, you know, I haven’t gotten a negative response yet. Even when I did Ode To Illmatic and Elzhi did Elmatic, especially El showed mad love. I was just on a plane with him yesterday comin’ back from Atlanta, and we both out in LA, it’s all love.
PIMB: Is there any beat out there you’re waiting to go in on?
Fashawn: Ah, man, that’s a good question. Um…I really like that new…damn…that new Just Blaze he got with Rick Ross. I think it’s called “I Love My Bitches”. That shit is dope. Oh damn, can I curse on here? Didn’t mean to disrespect.
PIMB: Nah, you’re good man. Speaking on what you’re feeling, what are you listening to lately?
Fashawn: I’ve really been feelin’ that boy Thurzday’s LA Riot album, Blu of course, Kendrick Lamar. This dude named D. Julien, he’s out of New York, not sure which borough. Been rockin with a lot of people, and all types of genres. This boy, actually he’s a grown-ass man, his names James Blake. He’s pretty dope. A lot of people man.
PIMB: Another person you worked with just dropped a new record, Evidence. I spoke with not too long ago, and we talked about the filming of the “Same Folks”video. He said you told him he was too far gone from the hustle, that you were gunna get him on records sold, and you did.
Fashawn: Ahhhh [laughs], yeah man!
PIMB: Is that your personality as a hustler, or just the current nature of the music industry?
Fashawn: Naw, I mean, when I first went out to Venice Beach, I was that kid sellin CDs. Amidst all these people sellin’ their stuff, from people dancin to walkin on glass, I’m out there tryin to hustle and I didn’t sell no CDs. That was about a year or two later, and I was in a different mode. I was amped, and I was with Ev jokin’ that I was gunna sell more CDs, but I did my thang. It’s funny he’d say that though.
That’s me in a nutshell, and how I was raised. You know most people go from a super hustler to a rapper, like the Jay-Zs and Rick Rosses, goin from mad hustlers to a rapper. Me, I started off the opposite. I started off in the beginning just serious on my pen game, focusing all on the pen and pad, and I wouldn’t go outside, just wanted to stay in and write to Pete Rock beats and Premo beats. That’s all I wanted to do. Then I realized you could use that as a vehicle to get out of the hood, to expand and venture out. They can rap and be billionaires with a high school diploma, then I definitely can do it. During the time I was doing Boy Meets World and Barack was running, I just felt like I had something to say, and it really came out.
PIMB: It felt good to beat him on records sold though didn’t it?
Fashawn: For sure, hell yeah it did. I see my album out there amongst giants. Knockin’ some cats off the box, won’t say no names, but word up. [laughs]
PIMB: Phonte’s album dropped not too long ago, and your name was mentioned (on “Everything is Falling Down”). Did that catch you off guard? And what does it mean to you for your peers to be name-dropping you?
Fashawn: I have no idea, you know, shout out to Phonte! Man, my brother shipped a little clip of that song to me, and I didn’t even know. Shout to Phonte though, hopefully we can do a record someday.
PIMB: What’s the timetable for you going forward?
Fashawn: Man I’m hopin’ to drop another tape before this years over, it’s called Champagne & Styrofoam Cups namsayin, and it’s just a bunch of the stuff I’ve been workin on in the midst of this album, it’s gunna be dope. It’s all original production, no instrumentals on it. I’m in the lab with Alchemist and [Evidence] right now workin on somethin, it might be on that Champagne & Styrofoam Cups. Just stuff like that, that Exile didn’t produce. That’s coming soon, also inspired by that photograph, with me grabbin’ on my nuts and the styrofoam cup. That’s gunna come before the year’s open, then lookin’ for a release in early 2012 for the album.
PIMB: Any last words?
Fashawn: Just look out for the Grizzly gang, I got bears everywhere. It’s crazy.