Tha Blog is Hot presents…an exclusive interview with FASHAWN!
On the last Sunday of February, I walked into the Westin looking like a hot mess (nothing new there) after braving one of the coldest, rainiest, and windiest nights I’ve been out in Seattle in a while so I could meet up with California emcee Fashawn. While on the road for The Higher Learning Tour, they decided to spend one of their rare days off in Seattle. This is Fashawn’s first headlining tour, and after seeing him in concert (read my review here), I can confidently say that it won’t be his last.
Even before I met Fashawn, I assumed he must be pretty cool if he was willing to chop it up with me on one of his days off. My suspicions were further strengthened as he burst into spontaneous rap while we walked into the lobby. We sat down at the table, and then he tried to tell me that he was really shy. Me, being gullible, was like “oh, ok,” so he quickly explained that he actually has a really dry sense of humor. Finally, someone who is on my level, and understands me, and speaks my language!
Fashawn: Definitely, I had one of the most interesting days.
Julie: Homeless encounters?
Fashawn: No, no. It started off, I woke up here because we did a show in Boise, Idaho so we didn’t even sleep there, we just did the show and proceeded to move..and I woke up and I was in Seattle and we walked in, as soon as we walked in, a guy at the front was like ‘Yo, Grizzly City is in the house. Fashawn’s in the building!’ And I’m like, so I had to stop and ask him, like what do you know about it, what is your name? It was a white man by the name of James Brown. And that was interesting. That he knew about the G’s, and the Grizzly City movement. And then I bumped into Waka Flocka Flame and that was cool. I had never met him before, and he was just in the lobby right over there [points]. Yeah, he left me with some leaves.
Julie: That was kind of him.
Fashawn: Very kind of him.
Julie: Yeah, I can’t say that I went to his concert…
Fashawn: All good, all good. I’ve never been to a Waka show either, so we got that in common.
Julie: How many shows have you had for Higher Learning Tour?
Fashawn: thus far, maybe about 5, 6 shows in. It’s going really well. First headlining tour. I’m the youngest person on this tour, which is odd. Because I’m headlining and it’s crazy. Got my big homies Ev, Evidence from Dilated [Peoples], Curt@!n$, from Brooklyn. It’s just dope, seeing what it doe.
Julie: I really liked Higher Learning 2…
Fashawn: Cool. I’m glad you did.
Julie: It’s like you go hard the entire time…
Fashawn: I try…really?
Julie: Yeah I think so.
Fashawn: Really? I thought I kind of chilled out on a certain a couple songs
Julie: Well yeah, you do, but the energy is still there.
Fashawn: Definitely not the intro though, I was trying to hug the beat.
J: That was a good one
F: Thank you, thank you. Well yeah, that’s one of my favorite projects that I’ve dropped ever in life. A lot of them but that one stands out. I think that one makes all the other ones jealous. For sure.
J: So how does that compare to Grizzly City?
F: Higher Learning is me really trying to display my whole, being versatile, you know, because I think that side of me is what really gets underappreciated. A lot of people like me because of my quote unquote backpacker shit, or my hardcore street records, or like my real sincere records where I’m talking about love or life or family. I really just wanted to show the versatility on this one and that’s what’s really different, aside from Grizzly City, is just going hard and having fun and really showcasing the lifestyle that I come from, which is Grizzly City, which is my hometown. That’s the difference between the two, I would say. Higher Learning is a higher level, Grizzly City is like, is just the basics. HL is realizing that you’re not just born to die, that you have a time span and you’re here to do something and you thinking on a higher level and that’s the mode I was in on that project.
Julie: How did you decide for the Simpsons cover art?
Fashawn: Oh, I call myself Bart Simpson, a lot of my friends call me Bart Simpson, I skateboard a lot, sort of rebellious and things of that nature. I call myself that because I feel that Bart Simpson was a character that was created by someone intentionally to aim at a demographic. I think that’s why they incorporated the skateboard or something. You gotta think, this is a character, this is a cartoon, you know what I’m saying, and they wanted to, how they wanted to package Bart Simpson put him on like shirts and lunch boxes and stuff, and just really exploit this kid. That’s how I kinda felt when I got in the rap game, you know what I’m saying, and that’s why I call myself Bart Simpson. On a lighter note, it’s my favorite cartoon, ever, in life and growing up, I wanted to be Bart Simpson. That’s why the Bart Simpson vibe is on Higher Learning 2, it’s like, it’s something that I kind of elevated. It came about on Grizzly City 3, which is the last one, I did a song called “Bart Simpson,” and from there, it’s just been going crazy with the concept.
Julie: I liked how you talked about higher learning, with the double entendres…
Fashawn: Definitely, definitely…triple entendres, actually. It’s inspired by the movie, as well, which was an incredible film, and if you notice, there are inserts all through the tape from the movie. It’s a beautiful thing.
Julie: Fun project
Fashawn: I would say so.
Julie: So what are you working on right now?
Fashawn: Right now I am working on my next album.
Julie: Will you be working with Exile?
Fashawn: I am actually talking to Exile about that. I just got off the phone with him, like, yeah, scary kind of, weird…
Fashawn: And um, we are definitely going to be working with Exile on the next album, he’s definitely going to be on there, if not the whole thing, he will definitely a major part because I feel like the sound he gave me on the album, I can’t get that anywhere else, so yeah. Shoutout to my man Exile, MPC master, extraordinaire.
Julie: How do you go about creating songs? Do you listen to a beat first? Or write or freestyle?
Fashawn: Sometimes I don’t even need—can I curse?
Fashawn: Cool. Sometimes I don’t even need a fucking beat. I just go and just write however I feel. ‘Cause sometimes the beats get in the way of the words, and I can’t hear my words, and I’m like ‘yo turn the beat off, just let me write for a second’ and then turn the beat back on. Process varies all the time. Sometimes, the beat might provoke the words, and sometimes the words are so powerful that I have to go find a beat that’s equivalent to what I’m talking about. That’s a fun process, as well, sometimes I might be in Seattle one night, and holler at Jake One, like ‘yo I wrote some shit,’ Jake One might send me just what I needed. It varies, my process varies, just as flexible as my every day life.
Julie: So your next show is in Vancouver?
Fashawn: Yes, Vancouver should be very fun. Love Canada, and Bellingham, should be very fun, and then Seattle at the Nectar Lounge. I think this is my third time playing there. First time I came with The Grouch and Exile and Mr Fab, second time was with Wiz Khalifa and now I’m back, headlining myself.
Julie: I’m embarrassed to say this, but I was supposed to go to the Wiz Khalifa show, and I was too hung over.
Fashawn: Ooooohh…well…hopefully you make it to mine.
Julie: Oh I definitely will. [editor’s note: I made it!]
Julie: [me fumbling with iPad] My parents got me this for my birthday, I don’t even know how to use it…
Fashawn: What is that? The iPad? It’s too big for me.
Julie: It’s like a large iPod touch.
Fashawn: Awesome, awesome. You got your questions written down on there?
Fashawn: I don’t like freestyling either.
Julie: Well, I try to, just kind of …I see where it goes…
Fashawn: Definitely, cool.
Julie: [me continuing to fumble with the iPad] Do you have any advice for the people who are the freshmen of XL…I mean Double X L…I always mess that up…
Fashawn: It’s all good… Accept it as a salute, embrace it this year, because you’ll never get another year like this…you only get one chance to be the new guy, embrace that while you got it and just keep going hard, don’t ever stop. When you get to your sophomore year, you might feel a little more comfortable, you might now, but just keep going hard like every year is your first and I think you’ll be good. Don’t forget what got you on the cover and you’ll be alright.
Julie: Cool. What do you do while you’re on the road?
Fashawn: I like to smoke weed and watch movies.
Julie: What are your favorite movies?
Fashawn: Home Alone 2, Lost in New York is great, Beautiful Mind is great, the first season of Gang Land is incredible, shoutout to the History Channel, those are a couple of my favorites…Friday, Godfather, long drives, a lot of movies…
Julie: Do you try to skate when you can, weather permitting?
Fashawn: Yeah, the weather has been horrible on this tour. I haven’t got to play anyone in skate really, I got to play Del The Funk Homosapien’s DJ, Bukue One, in Skate and he murdered me! He killed me! He’s been skating since 1987, since before I was born. He’s very experienced, I know he can teach me some things, but I have to redeem myself for that game. I need to get it back. But yeah, I like to skate, it keeps me sane when I’m on the road. If I didn’t have my board I would go crazy, you know, definitely that. Some reading…
Julie: What’s your favorite book?
Fashawn: My favorite book is The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho. It’s the story of Santiago—that’s me, that’s my real name, Santiago. As soon as I opened the first page, I was like, ‘It’s talking to me!’ and it’s one of my favorite books.
Julie: You think I should check it out?
Fashawn: Yeah you definitely should.
Julie: I see it everywhere…
Fashawn: That’s what really inspired me to write Boy Meets World, the journey of Santiago and that’s . If it wasn’t for that book, I don’t think my album wouldn’t have been as good as it was. I was reading that book the whole time, so yeah.
Julie: I like books, I studied English lit…
Fashawn: Awesome, awesome…
Julie: Yeah, I want to read that book now!
Fashawn: Please do! Start with that one…and then…well just start with that one. It will lead you to other ones.
Julie: Cool. Do you have any favorite cities that you’ve visited while on the road?
Fashawn: One of my favorite cities is Seattle, of course. Boulder, Colorado. Moscow, Russia is ill. Erfurt, Germany. Erfurt is hype. That shit is like no other place! Berlin is cool, good city. Austin, Texas is ill. I like going anywhere I’m welcome. I don’t care if I’m rocking with the Navajo, I’ll rock them. Put me anywhere, just give me a mic and some bigass speakers and it’s going down like there’s a well on a boat.
Fashawn: Don’t mind me and my dry sense of humor, you’ve gotta excuse me.
Julie: No. Don’t make any apologies, I accept it. So do you have any crazy tour stories?
Fashawn: I almost got killed in Zurich, Switzerland, by a gang. I was walking down a street, going to a club with some friends, and, well to be more specific, some female friends. We were on the wrong block, you know. What you need to understand, if I seen some niggas rolling down my hood, it’d probably be the same situation. I was walking down the wrong block, I guess these guys we were going to take these girls to go set up shop, and prostitute or something. I guess they thought we were pimps for some reason. I guess I have the glow of a mac? I don’t know what would happen.
[we both laugh]
Fashawn: So they thought we was going with intentions of doing that. So they confronted us in a language that I had no idea, that I couldn’t comprehend, but the girls comprehended it and they just started like, running off, dipping off like ok, what’s going on? Before I knew it, it was like so many people coming, after us like crazy. I was glad I made it out alive that night! Because we was on the other side of the water, and I almost didn’t make it back to America that night. My first show in Zurich, Switzerland. Yeah, that’s a crazy story.
Julie: Wow. Switzerland seems so…calm, you know?
Fashawn: You would think! Don’t go down the wrong street, I think it’s called Long Street. Yeah.
Julie: So do people commonly not notice that you have a dry sense of humor?
Julie: Spend a lot of time on twitter…no job…told you think morning where to eat… But do you get a lot of stuff like people asking why you weren’t, for example, on the cover of Freshmen XXL this year?
Fashawn: Yeah yeah yeah…it’s just funny to me. It’s just amusing. It makes my job feel less of a job, which amuses me at times. I like to educate people, that’s what higher learning is all about. If they don’t know about me, do your homework assignments, or…get a F. There ya go. Most of my tweets are blankets in sarcasm and third person. A lot of stuff. I just started a new page, it’s @SantiagoTheReal. Because I had a line of Higher Learning 2, I was like “yo knowledge it’s me Santiago the real, graduated with honors and some bullshit, so I started @SantiagoTheReal. And sometimes, it’s like my alter ego, stuff I wouldn’t tweet, on the Fashawn page, like ‘yo I miss my daughter.’ I wouldn’t tweet that on my @Fashawn page because it might be too personal for my Grizzly Fans, [laughs] you know what I’m saying, so…you know, a deeper connection to me, I guess. Abusing social networks, there’s nothing wrong with it.
Julie: It’s amazing how much you can learn on them.
F: Yeah. And it’s amazing how ignorant it cane make some people. It’s hilarious. It’s a beautiful world.
Julie: Endless entertainment..
Fashawn: Endless amusement, an amusement park…
Julie: I think I pretty much covered all my questions…
Fashawn: Anything else you wanna know?
Julie: Hmm, so do you listen to your own music?
Fashawn: Ummm…no I do. I love it. I enjoy my music. [laughs] I wouldn’t spend so much time on it for nothing! I like to put it on in certain environments, like if I do a song for the ladies, I love to turn it on and see how it makes the ladies feel. Any chance I get, you know what I’m saying. Or any situation, I love to play my music, whether I’m performing it or just kicking back and if I’m just a part of the ambiance of the setting, I’m fine with that, too. I don’t always gotta be the star, just put me in the background. And live, you know. That’s why I make music.
Julie: Who else do you like to listen to?
Fashawn: I like to listen to Janelle Monae, she’s dope…she’s ill. Florence and the Machine are pretty crazy. That’s a new band that’s pretty sick…they might be old, but they’re new to me. They’re dope. Esperanza Spalding, I’ve been a fan of hers for years. Q Tip, C Bo, Pac, a lot of shit. Too much music out there, too much music there…
Julie: Do you know if you’ll be working with anyone on your next album?
Fashawn: Can’t say who specifically, but definitely a lot of surprises, I can tell you that, you know. Yeah. I know who I want to get on my album, and I’m afraid if I say their names, it might ruin it all, so I won’t say their names. Can’t do it. I know what I want to call it; I know what I want to call my next album with Exile. It’s going to be called The Ecology with me and Exile. Until it happens, I don’t know what y’all are going to get, you know? All I know is that Ecology will be produced by Exile and be the album that y’all should look out for, for sure.
Julie: Any like kinda timeframe?
Fashawn: Um…before the world ends.
Julie: So 2012?
Fashawn: Before then? Hopefully before this world crumbles…
Julie: Supposedly the world will end in 2012…
Fashawn: Yeahhhh…you know. So, hopefully, God gives us another year. We’ll see what happens. But I’m going to be working on it mostly this year, while I’m on the road, and when I get home, and recording it. I gotta build with Exile, I haven’t go to chill with Exile like this whole year thus far, so you know. He’s going through things personally, I gotta give him space…he just had a loss in his family. I really gotta give him his space and respect that and you know, when he’s ready, we gonna get down! Because I’m ready, I know that much. Mhmm.
Julie: Do you like recording on your bus? [editor’s note: they have a large van, not a bus, nice one, Julie]
Fashawn: Nah I record in my hotel room, that’s the cool place. A lot of inspiration comes there, for some reason. And, on the long drives, and by the time I get to the hotel, just let it out. I love that process. I did half of, no 90% of Grizzly City 3, like that on the road. Yeah. It’s a good thing, a lot of inspiration from the road, you learn something new every day, about yourself, about people. It’s a good thing.
Julie: Well thank you for talking with me.
Fashawn: No doubt, thanks for having me. I appreciate it. I like your necklace, too, it’s sick.
Julie: Thanks! Melody Ehsani, I don’t know if you know her…she’s a designer from LA.
Fashawn: I don’t know her. But I would like to be introduced to her.
Julie: Oh yeah, me too…haha.
Fashawn: So what’s up? Are you working the rest of the night or what?
Julie: I might interview Curt@!n$…
Fashawn: Oh yeah, he’s upstairs. He’s an interesting emcee, glad to have him on this tour. Straight outta Brooklyn, when he’s not talking about his Dior jeans and shit, he’s on some Public Enemy, KRS One type shit. He really loves his Dior jeans, I’ll tell you that much.
[we both laugh]
Fashawn: All around, he’s a full fledged emcee. I wouldn’t have him on this tour if he wasn’t, he a cool guy. And it’s cool to have the California and Brooklyn connection, I think it’s dope.
Julie: Will Evidence be here tonight?
Fashawn: We are picking him up at the airport tomorrow. He had a show with Dilated Peoples so he’s going to fly back in tomorrow morning. So we are going to go scoop him like ice cream.
Julie: Mmm [editor’s note—what the fuck? Hahaha]
Fashawn: Shall be fun.
Julie: Well I’m excited for your show!
Fashawn: I can’t wait, I hope I don’t fall on stage, because I be tripping sometimes. Tripping, literally. Like people tie my shoes together before I go on stage. Trying to play jokes on me, I don’t appreciate it…
Fashawn: That right there, getting my shoes tied together before going on stage, like shit I’ll be texting and before I know it, ‘It’s time,’ tied together. I’m like ‘you bastards.’ And one of them gets in gights before the show. It’s a rough life I live. It’s not easy bringing your family on the road ith you. I brought my cousin, and my homie Grafik, and he’s this guy I grew up with. Those guys, I grew up with, but anybody else, I will beat the shit out of them if they try that. Sorry. Don’t tie my shoes together.
Julie: Yeah I don’t blame you.
Fashawn: I will take the shoe string and do something wrong with it…don’t do that. I’m sorry.
Julie: Sounds fun.
Fashawn: Well yeah…we…never mind, I don’t want to get too detailed into that subject.
Julie: Overall, is the road fun? Do you get to spend a lot of time in different cities?
Fashawn: Nah man, I was in Boise yesterday, didn’t get to stay…didn’t even leave the block. Hit the corner and said hello to everyone, did the show, and was back in the van and here so. But on days off, like today, go around the city if I want, but the weather is kind of bad so I can’t skate like I want, so. I’m here. But, it’s been interesting as hell since I’ve been here, I can’t even, I don’t want to leave, I’m cool right here. That’s for sure. Met a white dude named James Brown, met Waka Flocka, got some trees and I haven’t even left. I’m pretty comfortable.
Julie: Be careful at the border, though.
Fashawn: Oh yeah I’m going to smoke it all before I get there, don’t worry.
Julie: Sorry to be like…a boring old person.
Fashawn: Nah I appreciate the concern, it’s all good. You need a drink? You good for now?
Julie: Thank you, I’m good for now.
Fashawn: You smoke?
Julie: No [editor’s note: booooring]
Fashawn: Good! It’s very unhealthy!
Julie: I have asthma…it just doesn’t work.
Fashawn: Very unhealthy. Don’t do it. It’s not for everyone, trust me.
Julie: I’m old, I don’t smoke…
Fashawn: You’re not old.
Julie: I’m 24…
Fashawn: 2 years older than me, that’s not old at all.
J: It just seems old, I had my birthday about a month ago.
Fashawn: Word, word. I’ll be 23 in October and I can wait. I can wait, it will be, cool. Anything else you need to know? Anything before we go? I don’t know when the next, well I’ll be here Wednesday, but I don’t know if we’ll get to talk as much as we are now.
Julie: What will your schedule look like for Wednesday, or just in general on a show day?
Fashawn: Yeah, load in our merchande and I do soundcheck. But when I get here, I’m going to go work with Jake One as soon as I get here, I’m going to work with Jake, from there I will go to soundcheck and I probably won’t even touch the hotel. Straight to soundcheck, check the sound in the spot, um…go to the hotel to burn a few spliffs, God willing, if I get the time, and then go on stage. From there, meet everyone that’s in the house, like every single person because I don’t leave without meeting with every single person. But then it’s like 2 o’clocl the next day and by the time I get to the hotel, the day is done, and I sleep, and I do it again. It’s a pretty beautiful thing. At 22 years old, I’m so happy with my life. I used to do a lot of other things—not a lot of other things, but other things, just to maintain life. And now that’s all I do. Thank God.
Find me elsewhere!
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