RESPECT. Mag Online caught up with Cali rapper and former XXL Freshman Fashawn as he embarked on a brief tour up to the nation’s capital… that is, the capital of Canada. I’ll give a Sir Robert Borden to anyone who can tell me what the capital of Canada is, or what a Sir Robert Borden is for that matter? Fashawn sure knows. He’s got like 17 of them in his wallet.
Yeah, yeah, I’m sippin muthafuckin Creemore. Sippin Creemore all year.
Is that Canadian?
[pointing to the label on his beer] Ontario to be exact.
Have you ever had it before?
Naw, I told the brother to give me his best Canadian beer and this is what he came up with.
Is it you who had the different beers on your Twitter?
No, but I am somewhat of a beer connoisseur. I wouldn’t call myself an alcoholic but I would call myself a beer connoisseur.
What do you like?
I like Blue Moon, Modelo, I like Shock Top which is kind of like Blue Moon.
Blue Moon’s crazy. I went to school in Wisconsin and they drink a lot of it there.
Blue Moon’s my favorite probably. Red Stripe. Now I pretty much sound like an alcoholic.
Pretty much, man.
What’s your Canadian experience been like?
It’s been amazing. I know the first Canadian thing I ever experienced was Feist. That was my first taste of Canada, her music. And then like Drake and k-os, or maybe k-os was first. I don’t know, even further back, what’s that dude’s name? Kardinal Offishall.
He’s still around.
Yeah, he’s still doing his thing. But overall I’ve been everywhere, Saskatoon, Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton. Yeah, I’ve been to a couple places out here and they’ve just embraced me. I was here with Brother Ali and it was one of the best shows I’ve ever done, back in 2010, in Toronto I believe.
Oh, well, we appreciate the love.
And I get to go back tomorrow [to Toronto]. I couldn’t be more excited.
The laws are pretty relaxed too. Toronto’s like a mini Amsterdam these days.
Awesome, well hopefully I get to stay out there longer than planned.
If you go around the SkyDome, which is the baseball stadium, you just get wafts-
That’s not strange to me. I admire that kind of smell. I admire places like that.
What’s happening with your new album?
My new albums-
The Champagne one, what’s it called?
Champagne & Styrofoam Cups.
It didn’t come out yet, did it?
Naw, just a couple videos off of that project came out, but the full project as a whole hasn’t come out yet. We dropped “Skating Down The Block” and then we dropped another record by the name of “Generation F”. We dropped those two, and those are just a glimpse of what Champagne & Styrofoam Cups is. It’s really just a juxtaposition of street life and the luxury life, champagne sippin and celebratory shit. The styrofoam cups represent the struggle in me, and what we know just standing on the corner all day and hustling and stacking and living that life. For my life, personally, transitioning from Fresno, an economically deprived place like Fresno, to a place like Los Angeles, that’s what it is to me. That’s the difference between the two, and if you drive from L.A. to Fresno you’ll notice the difference fast. It’s evident.
That’s crazy. I’ve been to Carson, California.
Carson is a place… in Southern California.
The Home Depot Center is there.
Yeah, I’ve never been there.
I actually played tennis there.
That’s awesome. I’ve played tennis before, in middle school, for no reason.
But you were a XXL Freshman right? Was that last year?
Ah, that was 2010, the same year I got to come out to Canada. I was crowned with Most Artistic of all the classes. Because every year they give each freshman their own little title, like Freddie Gibbs was Most Hood.
Who else was with you?
It was me, J. Cole, Wiz Khalifa, Freddie Gibbs, OJ da Juiceman, Big Sean, Donnis from Atlanta, Pill who’s on Maybach Music, and I think that’s it.
What do you think made the difference between then and now? There are guys like Wiz Khalifa, who’s got a major label release, there’s J. Cole who is a little different, and then there’s you-
Who is a little different. I think it’s exactly where it should be. Everybody took their own path, creatively and business-wise, and I think we are all exactly where we want to be. I always wanted to keep my foundation as the MC or the artist who never sold out, never got too mainstream or mainstream period. I always wanted to keep my core foundation, and still to this day people come up to me and are like, “Man, you’re my favorite underground MC.” That shit makes me happy. [laughs] Because at home I’m like the most famous rapper, then I come out here and go to New York and people will come up to me like, “You spit that underground shit. You spit that raw shit.”
That must be the rewarding part.
Yeah, of course, man, and on top of that I get to support my family financially and all that stuff, and travel the world. I just got my second passport like yesterday and I’m already using it.
What do you mean your second passport?
Well, I got the first one stamped up, stamped out, and then I lost it traveling, as a result of traveling too much. Or as a result of being irresponsible. [laughs]
You been to some crazy places?
Yeah, I’ve been to some amazing places. One of the craziest places I’ve been is Moscow, Russia. That was crazy. I got to do graffiti on the trains. It was snowing just like this, maybe worse. I just remember the fucking hotel lobby smelling like sex and drugs. [laughs]
What were the fans like?
They were great. I actually DJ’ed that night too. I took the turntables and started DJ’ing and you would have thought I was rapping the way I was controlling the crowd. It was crazy.
They speak English there?
Yeah, they speak hip-hop. That’s all they need to know. All I have to say is, “Yo!” or “Wassup?” Those are the key words in hip-hop. [laughs]
I listened to Higher Learning 2 on the way up here, man. It was sick.
I’ll probably play some records off that tonight.
The first track is incredible.
“Manny Pacquiao”, yeah it was like 80 bars or something. That only came about because I didn’t know how to write a chorus to that song. It was so repetitive but still impactful. It was that same mood the whole time but I didn’t know where to stop rhyming at. I just kept going.
You turned it into something amazing.
Yeah, it’s making a strength out of your weakness, I guess. I never was a big chorus rapper, like big hooks and shit. That’s why I don’t have the number one song on the charts, but I don’t care.
You got the love when you travel to different cities.
I can go anywhere I want and blend in, man. It’s cool.
How old are you?
I’ll be 24 this October.
Is your family from Fresno too?
Yeah, born and raised. Well, technically not. My mom’s from Los Angeles. My dad’s from Hawaii. My brother is from Inglewood.
Inglewood is always up to no good. It’s in L.A. Tupac had that on a song, “Inglewood always up to no good,” on “California Love”. At the end of the song he was like, “Even Hollywood tryin to get a piece baby.” He was talking about all the California cities, like Oakland, “Inglewood always up to no good.”
Have you ever been to Big Sur?
Yeah, I went there. It was the most beautiful place ever. I wasn’t working. It was the most beautiful thing ever. I got to just relax. It was chill. I’ve got a picture of me and my family there, it looks like I’m standing in front of a painting. It’s beautiful. It’s like my favorite beach in California. It’s nothing like Venice Beach. It’s nothing like Newport Beach. It’s just got its own feel, Carmel Beach, Big Sur.
I read a book about it. It said the highway is crazy when you pull in there, with the cliffs.
Yeah, it’s scary. One time we got stuck, I was coming back from a show with Wiz Khalifa in Santa Cruz. The car was already foggy if you can imagine. We were just smoking and riding. It was the winter time and it was foggy, and then we took the wrong road and we ended up on the Big Sur cliffs. It’s a huge mountain. You just keep going up and up and up, and you’re like, “Where the fuck are we going?” It was foggy and just like the most intense thing ever.
There were a lot of amazing artists who did great stuff there.
There’s got to be.
Hunter S. Thompson, Joan Baez, Henry Miller, there should be some rappers going up there. [laughs]
You know what? My friend was like, “We should go out there and just write music and go try it out.” And I’m like, “I should.”
You think that would make a difference, what comes out?
Yeah, because of the environment. It’s the calm of it. Sometimes it’s nice not to see walls with graffiti on them or sand with glass and urine in it, sometimes just to see what that brings out of artists, it’s necessary. It’s always necessary.
And you live in L.A. now?
You ever seen the show Californication?
No, I don’t watch TV. I just work a lot.
Yeah, you haven’t stopped rapping since you’ve been here. You always like that?
Yeah, I’m always like that.
24/7, every day of the year…
I basically live this shit, man. I wake up to it, go to sleep to it, and eat it for breakfast and dinner. This is my life, man. I love it. Before I was here in Canada I was in my studio in my living room and before that I was in The Alchemist’s studio or chilling with De La Soul or some shit. That’s regular. The other day I woke up and Maseo from De La Soul was in my living room. The next day Murs was there. The next day Planet Asia comes. That’s my life, man. I live a duel life though. My life in Fresno is way different.
You go back there?
Yeah, that’s where my family is. That’s where all my foundations are.
You have a girlfriend, wife?
I’ve got a mother of a beautiful daughter. She’s two years old going on three.
What’s her name?
Her name’s Hannah.
Oh, that’s a nice name. Why’d you pick that name?
Because it means grace, and I feel like her birth saved me, so I was saved by grace basically. Her birth put my life on the right track. As soon as I planted that seed I got my first record deal, coincidentally, and I had my first album. She was born a few days before my album came out. It was a beautiful era in every way possible. I had just turned 21. It was like a culmination of everything. It was pretty cool.
Yeah, it’s a beautiful name. I have good associations with it.
I know a lot of good Hannah’s.
It’s a powerful name. It’s a strong name.
What do your tattoos say?
‘Cen Cal’ is what separates my area from Too $hort’s area or Eazy E’s area. This is Fresno. This is the foundation.
You ever been down this street, Rosecrans?
I know about Rosecrans.
The dry cleaners?
DJ Quik told me when he got famous he bought the whole Guess Store out and took the clothes to the dry cleaners on Rosecrans and when he went to go pick them up the next day they were all gone, stolen.
[laughs] I can imagine that. Rosecrans, that’s the hood, man, as far as the Rosecrans I know. Pac shouted out Rosecrans on “California Love” too, “Let em recognize from Long Beach to Rosecrans, bumpin and grindin like a slow jam-” Rosecrans is a famous block. “It’s west side so you know the row won’t bow down to no man.”
– By @petermarrack
photography by Loni Schick @elle_aye
Special thanks to Tim Fundament Stuart, Notes to Self, DJ Frank, and of course, Fash.
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