Second chances aren’t easy to come by, especially in music. And 26-year-old Fashawn is primed and ready to take advantage of his second chance at rap stardom. After being named one of the Freshman 10 for XXL‘s 2010 class, Fashawn faded. While peers like J.Cole, Big Sean, and Wiz Khalifa – who graced the cover with Fash – were gleaming in success, he was trying to find ways to release his sophomore album, The Ecology. Beset by hardship, Fash was close to kissing rap goodbye, until he met up with Nas.
Fast-forward and now Fashawn is back on the forefront of his dreams. In 2014, he signed a deal with Nas’ imprint Mass Appeal after delivering a stellar performance at SXSW. With Nasty Nas leading the crusade, Fashawn is finally being given a chance to release his long awaited album. With features ranging from Nas, Busta Rhymes, and Dom Kennedy to Aloe Blacc and B.J. The Chicago Kid, Fash’s second album has the makings of something special.
The rapper/skater sat down with Champs Sports to discuss his new album, working with Nas, his favorite shoes to perform in, his love for skating, and what makes a snapback special.
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I know you had a thing for customizing snapbacks. You did a couple for your hometown Fresno. Are you still in the business of making snapbacks?
I mean, we’re developing some new things. You know, I still have a lot of ideas that I haven’t really gone all the way in on. But we’re definitely still interested in doing that. We’ve been doing that for years. I’ve done that with a couple of our hometown teams. That’s something I aspire to do man. For sure.
What do you think makes a snapback or even a fitted cap unique in your eyes?
I guess the story behind it, where you got it, and how long you had it. It’s really not the appearance per se. But I really think it’s the story behind it because you see a lot kids with vintage hats and stuff like that. They didn’t have those hats necessarily for a long time. It might be a brand new vintage hat. But I really like hats that are really authentic and comfortable that comes with a story attached to it.
I hear that. That’s like everybody out here in New York that sports the Yankees fitted.
Yeah. I’ve seen guys out there who’ve worn the same Yankee hat for like a decade. They never bought a new one because they have so many stories with that same hat. That’s what I appreciate about collecting. I’m a collector.
Do you strictly collect snapbacks and fitteds? Or do you also collect sneakers as well?
I just collect everything, man. I like to hold on to things man. Everything. Old notebooks with raps in them and girls’ phone numbers in the back. Old snapbacks with stains. I still collect everything.
If you had to pick your favorite snapback that you covet the most, which one would you choose and why?
Ah man. I’d have to say I have this Mitchell & Ness black corduroy San Francisco 49ers hat. It’s like a zip-back. It’s not a snapback or a strap-back. It’s pretty retarded. That’s like my favorite in the collection.
Why that in particular?
I grew up as a fan of the 49ers. And I love the corduroy feel of it. I love how it fits. It just fits like a glove on my head. It fits perfect.
Your “Guess Who’s Back” video dropped recently and it showed you skating around the neighborhood. When did you first learn to skate?
I learned how to skate when I was around 10-11 years-old. I would say 11 years old, man. That was when I really first got my own skateboard. I never put it down ever since.
I remember you said in a past interview how skating changed your life. How so?
It just made me look at the world in a more creative way. You know what I’m saying? It just really changed my perception on race, unity, and change. It gave me a sense of community that the outside world didn’t have. It doesn’t have that camaraderie like the skateboard world has, man. That definitely taught me that. Just being a skater taught me how to connect with different ethnicities and how to appreciate everyone’s stories. It helped me relate to people around the world. Like just being in a small town and talking to some Asian kid about what he ate for dinner or what it is like from where he comes from, was dope to me. Or even talking to an Indian brother about what it’s like and where he’s from, that all makes its way back to my music. That’s how it changed my life. It just opened my mind up like I couldn’t ever imagine.
Who would you say is a better skater between you and Murs?
Me. (Laughs) Murs would tell you the same thing. Murs would be the first to tell you that.
I loved the “Golden State of Mind” record you did with Dom Kennedy for your album, The Ecology. The Golden State Warriors are having a fantastic season themselves. What do you think about their success?
Man, shoutout to the Warriors. The Warriors actually picked up that record “Golden State of Mind.” They be playing it at their games and s***. I love the Golden State Warriors and I’m proud of them. I’m proud of their newfound success. They got a really good roster now. They deserve all the attention that they’re getting. I’m also happy for the Clippers. I’m really sad for the Lakers. But hey, at least the West Coast is still winning. (Laughs)
As far as your new album is concerned, Nas played an instrumental role and served as the Executive Producer. What was the biggest piece of advice he gave you to approaching this album?
To make music that’s timeless and not to make music for the sake of what’s current right now. Take your time with it and don’t rush it because it takes time to make timeless music. That was probably the biggest advice that I’ve gotten from him.
How did you go about selecting the features for the album? I just found out recently that you got Busta Rhymes on the album, in addition to already having Nas, Aloe Blacc, Dom Kennedy, and B.J. The Chicago Kid.
That’s something that happened later in the process [with Busta]. I didn’t even imagine that happening. As far as my approach on the features, I really just wanted to get artists that stood for something. That’s where I feel like I am. That’s what I personify. That’s why I wanted artists like Nas, Aloe Blacc, and brothers like DJ Khalil and Alchemist on the production. I feel like just the cast alone is a really strong cast. I wanted to get artists who were cut from the same cloth as me and represented the same thing. There’s not really too many of those out there. So that’s why it’s not really too flooded with features or the hot new acts that’s out right now. It’s just really timeless artists. That’s what I wanted to make – a timeless piece of music. I feel like we accomplished that.
With you ready to embark on your 26-city tour, how many hats and sneakers do you normally pack on tour? How do you go about picking what you’re going to bring with you?
You know what man? Certain pieces of clothes just find their way with me. I really pack light. I pack maybe like 5-10 caps and a couple of buckets. I shop when I’m on the road. I like to pick up something in every state or every city that I’m in. I like to go to the dopest little shops. I pick up stuff when I’m on the road. I travel light to be honest man. I usually come home with so much more stuff than how I leave the road with. The packing on the last day of touring, that pack is the most serious packing ever. For sure.
Do you have a special pair of shoes you specifically wear when you perform? Do you go for the look or do you go for the comfort and feel?
I usually wear shoes that are signature shoes like a pair of Jordans, or a pair of Vans. I feel like I have greatness on my feet man. (Laughs) I feel like your shoes have to be a statement. Between those two pairs, you’re liable to see me on stage with a pair of Jordans – preferably the I or Steve Caballero’s Vans. They’re just really comfortable to run around in on stage.
Follow Carl on Twitter at @TheRealCL24