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Exclusive: Fashawn Talks 'The Ecology' Album, His Childhood And Working With Nas

Gold Jesus pieces, hefty Hublot wrist wear, and foreign cars. Such said subject matter has been the main topic in hip-hop for a while now. That much is evident by turning on the radio or checking any current rap blogs. Missing from the culture is the fortune of validity and thought provoking narratives that capture the heart of growing up in the hood.

With that said, VIBE wants to re-introduce you to one of Nas' newest hand picked messiahs, Fashawn. If hip-hop was a war, Fash would be the toxic sniper in the cut knocking heads off. His flow is fierce, but by nature, he's somewhat of a reserved individual. He's doesn't boast about outrageous purchase like everyone else. He just knows that he's nice.

Fash has been blessing beats and ears with substance driven lyrics and gripping commentary for a minute now. Unfortunately, that's that shit that radio don't like, so the Cali MC may be under the average listeners' radar. Back in 2006, Fash kicked in the door with Grizzly City, a mixtape that garnered the then rookie rapper a slot on Planet Asia’s tour. Soon after, the Frenso native inked a deal with the independent One Records for the release of 2009's critically-acclaimed album, Boy Meets World.

BMW was welcomed by mainstream media outlets and hip-hop fans alike. Thanks to the impeccable Boy Meets World, Fash earned a few coveted magazine covers and re'd-up on co-signs from the likes of Talib Kweli, Ghostface Killah and Wiz Khalifa.

Since then, Fashawn has worked with iconic producers 9th Wonder, Alchemist, with whom he recently released the FASH-ionably Late mixtape with — Evidence, J. Cole and more. He even joined Left Coast's golden child Kendrick Lamar on stage for a healthy freestyle set.

Fast forward to 2015, Fash’s blood shot eyed-grind, exceptional commentary, fierce lyricism caught the attention of Nasir Jones, resulting in a deal with Mass Appeal Records. With his sophomore album, The Ecology — executive produced by Nas — in-stores now, Fash is back to wax poetically about the hardships, dreams, rainy and sunny days in the every day struggle. VIBE hit Fash on the phone to discuss The Ecology,working with Nas, being nicked-named Lil’ Nas, his childhood, and much more.

Fash's Introduction to Recording
“I was raised by a single parent home so I kind of gravitated toward notebooks and that gravitated into me putting it on record. They weren’t ever raps at that point, just me expressing how I felt. This was around six or seven years old. Fast forward to years later, and I dropped Grizzly City 1 with my manager Aren [Hekimian]. I was just a kid running around getting in trouble. But one day I just kidnapped him (Hekimian) and threw him in the studio, and I’ve been recording since."

On His Writing Style.
"I used to spend days and hours on verses. Now I know what I’m doing with that verse so I really put more thought into it. It’s just raw emotion. As I grew older my perspective broaden. I didn’t read too much but I live everyday. Everyday something crazy happens. So I stay awake, you know what I mean?”

The Preparation for Boy Meets World.
“By the time I recorded my first album, I’d had like six mixtapes. That was making me better. By the time I dropped Boy Meets World I was overly prepared. “

Surpassing Boy Meets World.
“I’m going to go past and beyond that my brother.”

How He Made The Ecology.
“I been working on it for like the last year or so. This is the moment that I’ve been waiting for. I’ve always wanted to be a part of a really dope dynasty, a dope album and it’s been brought to reality. And to have Nas' blessing... he is one of the most elite MCs in the world.”

Linking with Nas.
“I was making a lot of music and somehow I came across his radar. He heard what I had to say and that was enough conviction for him to buy me a plane ticket to South By Southwest to meet me in person. After that moment I was flying back and forth, and we were getting to know each other in person. We inked the deal last year and been working ever since then. It was already mutual respect so it was just a matter of vibing with him. Everybody was already calling me "lil' Nas" around here. If you would’ve asked my three years ago, I couldn’t have guessed this."

“I’d send Nas something, and the next morning I’d get a call from the god about it or something about the album. So, he was really involved through the whole process to the point where he wasn’t just putting his name on it but really executive producing it."

“When I turned in my final project, well what I thought was my final project, I played him this called…I think that might be on the iTunes version but I played him the song all the way through and he was like, ‘This record is not what it can be. You might want to approach that second verse differently.' So I did another verse, he wanted me to play the record again. So we played it again and he was like, ‘You know what? That’s quality.' That’s the only time that I someone suggested I do a verse over."

On working with other producers other than Exile and Alchemist.
“I’m not messing with other producers except Exile. I mean, if Lord Professor or DJ Premier give me a beat that’s a no brainer. I know what my sound is and over one of those beats I'll fit like a glove."

Favorite songs on The Ecology.
"My favorite record on the album is “Something To Believe In," with Nas.”

On recording "Something To Believe In."
"We were both in Europe and I got back in Paris before he did, and I had the song but I didn’t have the verse for it so before I got back to America me and Nas had a conversation that was at least three hours long. It was motivating. I left Europe with fire in my heart and soon as I got back to America I wrote the verse that you’re going to hear. We talked about so much stuff, hip-hop, good quality music, how to approach music, it was so much. His range of knowledge is so deep."

On what he wants fans to take away from this album.
“Walk away with this album with a new thirst for life, hope and belief that can do anything that they put their mind to.Live now, and and be happy with your life."

What Fashawn has learned about himself from recording The Ecology.
“I’m not perfect. I have ups and downs, I cry and laugh. I’m not made of steel. It’s deeper than music.”

The Ecology drops on Feb. 24th, and you can pre-order yours at Shop.massappeal.com.

Written by darryl @darryl_robertson

While you wait on The Ecology to drop, stream Boy Meets World below.

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