What did you do the year you turned 21? Hip-hop prodigy Fashawn earned a spot on the cover of XXL magazine, toured the world and built a rep as one of rap’s new rising stars.

Fashawn’s debut album, “Boys Meets World,” was heralded by critics and fans alike as one of the best albums of 2009 for its gritty, street-wise and intelligent rhymes. He is also no stranger to the International Hip Hop scene touring with Dilated Peoples in 2009 and most recently Rakim in 2011. From coast to coast, and from continent to continent, everyone agreed — they weren’t seeing some fly-by-night novelty act, they were seeing one of hip-hop’s freshest new voices.

With a strong hip-hop pedigree (think Rakim’s merciless rhymes plus 2pac’s outlaw spirit plus Nas’ effortless flow) and a loyal fan base of young listeners, Fashawn seems poised for the long haul.

Describe growing up in Fresno?
I enjoyed growing up in Fresno, CA. It’s the kind of place that makes you never want to leave. Some people would say the opposite about my city once compared to places like Los Angeles or San Francisco. Most people never make it out but, I was fortunate enough to make my escape.

Who were your musical influences?
My first musical influences came from inside my household. I was famous for stealing vinyl from my Uncles record collection as a kid. My mother exposed me to artists like Marvin Gaye, Anita Baker and Stevie Wonder early on in life. My older brother on the other hand introduced my to 2Pac, Cypress Hill and the culture I now know as Hip Hop.

What was the local Hip Hop scene like back then?
It was filled with a lot different crews all striving for respect and recognition in the culture. We had legends like Planet Asia, Popping Pete, and Diego Redd who I wanted to be like growing up. It was all very grass roots back then and that was very appealing to me at the time. I couldn’t wait to leave my mark on the Central California Hip Hop scene.

How did you stand out from other artists when you first started?
I think it was because of my abilty to write rhymes and turn them into actual records. There were a hand full of talented MC’s who could rhyme incredibly but, didn’t know how to write a hook to save there life. I was a little more balanced in that area because I stayed in the cypher and in the studio. I think it was my work ethic that ultimatley made me stand out.

When did you know you could make rapping a full time job?
I remember feeling that way when I released my debut album Boy Meets World in 2009. That was the first time I ever felt like I was actually working. Everything prior to that just felt like fun and games to me. I just had my daughter Hannah and had to make an important decision at that point. It wasn’t untill after her birth that I thought to look at my rapping as a job period.

You released several mixtapes early on before dropping your first album how important was that to your development as an artist?
It was important for me to find myself as an artist first of all. Every one of those mixtapes enabled me to experiment with so many different styles and tecniques. If it wasn’t for all of that material I wouldn’t of known what it feels like to even produce an album. Now I feel like I have my own brand of music that I can call my own. It definitely was not something that developed over night.

At 21 you were on the cover of XXL as part of their Freshman series what changes happened to your career after this?
I began to make more money and gained a lot more fans after that cover was released. It made it easier for me to go on tour and expose people to what I had going on. At that point in my career I had the respect every MC could dream of but, after that cover I began to experience what fame had to offer.

Your debut album “Boy Meets World” touched on a lot of personal stuff how hard was it letting listeners in on your life?
It was difficult for me to revisit those moments in my life but, it also felt liberating to get it off of my chest. By then I had developed a relationship with my audience that was almost family like. That made me feel comfortable enough to share my life with them, oppose to just feeding them dope beats and rhymes.

Exile produced the entire album how did you connect and was it hard working with one producer on a project? Any plans to work on another album with Exile?
I met Exile through a mutual friend who happens to be my manager currently. We instantly connected and began producing material that would later become my debut album. Working with Exile wasn’t as difficult as people would assume it was. He’s actually really open minded and funny as hell in or out the studio. I definitely plan on completing another album with him before its all said and done.

You have toured with artists such as Wiz Khalifa, Ghostface Killah, Brother Ali and many more. What do you most enjoy/least like about being on the road?
I enjoy being able to meet the people who support what I do and who can relate to my story. I also enjoy trying the many different herbs this world has to offer. The thing I enjoy the least about touring is being away from my daughter.

In the studio you have worked with the likes of Dr Dre, Alchemist, DJ Khalil and Evidence what have you learnt from these artists?
Being in the studio with artist like that taught me to never stop practicing. I watched the way they work and have the utmost respect for there work ethic. They taught me to also never fall in love with success and to never forget why I picked up a microphone in the first place.

Which one artist and one producer would you most like to work with and why?
If I had to choose one producer it’d be Kanye West. He is one of the only producers that makes rap music that can be played in collesiums, churches and in night clubs. If I had to pick one artist it’d be Nas. There isn’t a single lyricist more prolific that man. I would like go bar for bar with him one day.

What inspires you to make music?
My inspiration to make music always varies. Sometimes I’m inspired to go and produce and sometimes I do it simply because I must. I can honestly say that my best music comes out when it’s provoked. I usually have someone I’m talking to on every song and that usually makes it easier for me to produce a record.

What music are you currently listening to?
I’m just listening to beats for my upcoming album to be honest with you.

Being regarded as a rappers rapper what are your views on the current Hip Hop scene?
I feel like Hip Hop is in great shape right now. Its good to see so many hungry new faces and hear their fresh perspective on the world today. Rap as an artform will continue to evolve and grow as usual. This settlement will be around forever as long as the skill aspect never gets pushed to the back.

What has been your career highlight so far?
Headlining my own tour and having my brother Evidence come out as a special guest every night. It was always the other way around for us up untill that point. I felt like I had ascended to that next level in my career. That was definitley a high moment in my career in more ways than one.

Whats the best piece of advice that has been ever given to you?
“Keep writing.” – Jermaine Medley

What can Australia expect from your upcoming shows?
Australia can expect quality performances from yours truly. I will also have Exile on the road with me so expect the unexpected. We are putting our set list and ideas together as we speak. I’m very excited to come and visit your country for the first time.

What does the future hold for Fashawn?
Only time can tell what the future holds for me.

What’s your definition of Grindin’?
To know how to grind, is to know how to earn. It takes a certain will to want to grind and not everyone has that will. I’ve earned everything I have ever gotten by working diligently for it. I work just as hard to this day just to feel like I deserve all of it. That’s what grindin’ is to me.

Thu 21st June – Civic Underground, Sydney
Fri 22nd June – The Bakery, Perth
Sat 23rd June – The Espy, Melbourne

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