Fashawn Talks New Album and Lists His Favorite Skaters

When he’s not in the studio, Fashawn can usually be found riding around on his board. In the video for “Guess Who’s Back,” he rides down the street giving a scenic view of his hometown of Fresno, California.

Fash first captivated fans in 2009 when he released his debut album Boy Meets World. After appearing on XXL Magazine’s 2010 Freshman 10 cover, the rapper would nearly fade into oblivion, periodically dropping work here and there—that is until last year, when he impressed Nas at SXSW.

The encounter would lead Nas to sign the rapper to his Mass Appeal imprint and even to take on the role of executive producer (his first official project on the label). For Fash, working with Nas reignited his passion for rap. The Ecology is personal, flamboyant, conscious, and brash. He hopes that with the LP he will evoke change in hip-hop culture and possibly bring back real hip-hop.

For the MC whose highly anticipated sophomore album, The Ecology, drops today, skateboarding, like music, is his life. In addition to dropping a new album, the rapper will also be embarking on a 26-city tour, where he plans to take on any fans willing to challenge him in a game of SKATE.

He says if he loses, he loses with honor, but if he wins, fans are obligated to buy tickets to his show in their designated city.

Green Label recently caught up with the MC to talk about his new album and to discuss how he has managed to incorporate his passion for skateboarding with his love of rap.

What can fans expect from this album? Is there anything different they can look for?

Well, I have to say this album has a certain continuity with Boy Meets World. It continues that story. I guess the difference is I’m a lot more mature on this album, a lot more of a man, as opposed to a young hothead just coming from the streets. This is me, a lot wiser and a lot sharper. They can expect to laugh, to cry on this album, to be upset, to feel a little uncomfortable at times, and of course there’s just records for the hip-hop heads, you know, just for the guy or girl who wants to hear those bars. They could expect, I would say, a complete album. I don’t rap about everything that every other rapper raps about. Just expect a wide range of concepts and dope music. And the same guy behind the mic that you’ve always got.

What was it like working with Nas on the project?

It was a surreal experience just getting to work with arguably the greatest MC of all time, getting his critiques on certain lyrics and songs and just advice. That time was really priceless. For an MC coming up, I was shocked when he wanted to actually executive-produce the album. I didn’t know he wanted to take it that far. I was happy enough just putting out my project on Mass Appeal—when he offered to produce it it just took the thing to whole other level.

What was the best piece of advice that he gave you?

Just to stay focused and stay on course, man. And don’t let the outside things distract you—like the women, and the fame. Focus on your craft and be the best at what you do. That’s probably the most valuable thing he’s told me. And don’t be afraid to be honest.

What made you want to embark on a 26-city tour right after the release?

I wanted to reconnect with my fans. I toured a lot like the first maybe five years of my career. I toured extensively and that’s really how I got a lot of my fans, going city to city, night after night campaigning my music and taking my brand everywhere. I just really wanted to go back to that. People think that I’m in another place now as far as like my celebrity and whatever, but I’m the same kid that I’ve always been. I love touring and love getting in touch with people, so that’s a big reason why we’re doing this tour and we wanna spread the music everywhere we can. I feel this is the best way possible to drop the music in a couple of days or maybe a day two after, and hit the road, hit the people.

Do you plan to compete against fans and Twitter followers in games of SKATE during the upcoming tour?

I absolutely plan on playing in every city, every state. I plan on becoming a better rapper and a better skater by the time I get off this tour. That’s for sure. I’m basically challenging anyone out there in America or anywhere we’re touring. If you got a board and can really skate, come play me in a game of SKATE. If I lose, I lose with honor. It’s an honor to lose to a better skater than me, but if I beat you, you have to buy tickets to the show.

When exactly did you fall in love with skateboarding?

I fell in love with skateboarding probably when I first met Bart Simpson. And that’s when I first even wanted to skateboard or even knew what a skateboard was. And then of course just walking outside of my house, you know growing up in California, everybody had skateboards, so I always wanted one. By the time I was old enough and financially stable enough I bought myself a skateboard—I think I was about 11. And that about the time skateboarding started getting accepted as a real sport.

Are there any particular boards you like to ride? Is there like a special one that you like to ride now?

Yeah, there were certain brands I loved riding growing up. I loved a lot the signature decks, from Jeff Riley, Eric Koston, and Tony Hawk, and this brand Alien Workshop. Alien Workshop is a really dope company. Right now I got this old Tony Hawk. I think it’s from 1997, something like that, with Big Bird on the bottom. It’s pretty infamous.

Are there any skateboarders that you particularly admire, past or present?

I would have to say Tom Penny. I think my rap style is closest to his skate style. Tom Penny, Stevie Williams, Mark Johnson is dope… Ronnie Creager, umm who else? Daewon Song, Rodney Mullen, Jason Dill. I could go on for days. Josh Taylor, umm what’s that guy’s Stefan Janoski, he was sick. Uhh, who else? I like Chaz Ortiz as far as like the new guys, Torey Pudwill is probably like my favorite right now. It’s too many to name. The skateboarding community is growing immensely every day.

How have you managed to connect your passion of skateboarding with your career as a rapper?

They’re both passions to me. I’m really passionate about skate culture, just as much as I am about hip-hop. They both come from the street, but I’ve chosen to make a career out of one of them. I chose to make a career out of music, out of rap, the hip-hop side of things. But I get to incorporate skating in my videos and drop little references in my music. I kinda balance the two out. I get to sneak my board onto the video shoot every time and in the studio, so it’s always present. There’s always a microphone and a skateboard there. It’s kinda just an extension of my life.

Do you think it has become prevalent in rap over the recent years?

I wouldn’t say prevalent, but I would definitely say it’s been commercialized in rap a lot. I see a lot of rappers who haven’t necessarily picked up a skateboard before, or never even had that image, perpetuate the image. It’s weird to me now ’cause I know a lot these guys. I’ve been in the game with them for years.

Is there anything else that you would like to say or like the readers to know?

I like them to know that my album is out, and to get ready for the return of real rap. Mass Appeal is the label, Grizzles is the gang, and that’s it.

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