Since 2006 Fashawn has released six mixtapes and has hip hop fans anticpitating the release of his debut album later this year. Gaining the respect of hip hop legends Mick Boogie, Terry Urban and Planet Asia, whilst also being supported by Orisue, OnSMASH and NahRight. This West Coast rapper is set to help bring life to a new generation of Hip Hop. Here is our exclusive Q&A with Fashawn.
Born Santiago Leyva, in Fresno, California. What was life like growing up?
Growing up in Fresno was rough, but i loved my childhood. Reality was handed to me very early in life. I guess that’s why I started writing heavily at the age of twelve. By then I felt like I had seen it all already. There’s no place in the world like Fresno. Trust me! (laughs)
What inspired you to start writing lyrics for the first time?
My older brother bought this Goodie Mob cassette home back in 96′ and it had an instrumental on it. He would always write raps and leave them around the house. I would pick them up and try to rap them. It sounded like garbage, but eventually i would start writing my own rhymes. I’ve written a few songs since then.
You were quoted in an article for Vibe as saying “The book, The Alchemist, is the story of Santiago. It’s kind of relative to my life”. Tell us some more about how you are similar to the character in Santiago.
Santiago was a shepherd from a small town, but deep in his heart he felt he didn’t belong. He had a dream and decided to follow it. His dreams took him further than he imagined. It’s a story about intuition. I feel like me and Santiago walk a similar path. I just recently met The Alchemist too; that’s a good omen. I’m fulfilling my personal legend just like Santiago did in The Alchemist.
You’re known for rocking the crowds, what has been your most memorable live performance and why?
The House of Blues with Evidence. I met Redman, B-Real, Jaoquin Phoenix the actor, but what really made it memorable was meeting Tommy David from In Living Color. That was probably the most nervous I’ve been on stage though. I’ll never forget that night.
You grew up with The Golden Age of Hip Hop, which artists do you feel have influenced you the most?
Tupac Shakur as far as content and subject matter. Nas and Big L as far as word play and metaphors. Chuck D, Rakim, Krupt, Black Star, Black Moon, Black Thought… the list goes on. That’s the era i come from. The Golden Era.
As the new bloodline for Hip Hop’s future, what other rappers of your own generation do you respect and what do you think about the future of Hip Hop?
There is so many new artists to choose from. Blu, B.O.B, Corey Gunz, Joell Ortiz, Termanology, U-n-i, Pac Div, Kid Cudi, etc. It’s refreshing to see it unfold. The future of Hip Hop is good hands.
One of your tracks samples “Shut Up and Let Me Go” by British band The Ting Tings, how did that come about?
Shouts out to Mike Oz at The Fresno Bee. it was actually his idea and I was crazy enough to go along with it. (laughs). The whole concept fits my attitude perfectly. I have a major crush on the lead singer too. I
think she’s hot. That’s how that came about.
Can you let us in on any information about your debut album “Boy Meets World” which drops later this year? What is it about? Who have you been working with?
I started working on B.M.W around march 2008. Boy Meets World is a story about a young man growing up in today’s society. It’s autobiographical in a way because I’m the main character. Most of the songs stem from my life experiences. The stories of my peers. I wanted to make an album that not only speaks to my generation, but speaks for it. It’s entirely produced by DJ Exile. I’m excited about it. It’s due summer ’09.
Being affiliated with Orisue and seeing pictures of you rocking some nice gear. What labels are reaching your wardrobe?
Orisue has got me covered! (laughs) They supported me since day one. I wear Orisue 7 days out of the week.
We read somewhere that you used to kick it with skaters, do you skate much yourself? What tricks have you landed?
I skate, but not like I did when I was younger. The last trick I landed was a fakie 540 big spin…first try by the way.
If you weren’t a rapper what would you be and why?
If i wasn’t a rapper i would’ve probably stayed in school to become a journalist. I love to write. Other than that I’d just be hustling like all the other boys in my neighborhood.
Fast forward ten years, where do you want to be?
Financially stable. A happy family. A million records sold. Hopefully!