The first time I heard Fashawn on the mic was via his Orisue sponsored, Mick Boogie-hosted mixtape, “One Shot One Kill” which dropped back in September of 2008. After a few listens to the mixtape, I wasn’t really, let’s say….moved. My initial thoughts were “ehh, dude’s got a little something brewing, but I don’t really foresee any sort of “drop 5 albums inna’ 7 year career” ahead for the Fresno native. Yet, it was his appearance on my favorite track from 2009, Evidence’s “The Far Left” (also featuring the Alchemist) that had me anxiously awaiting the release of Fashawn’s debut LP, “Boy Meets World”. On the same token, I read numerous comments on blogs “wandering who EV’s “weed carrier” was making a cameo” on “The Far Left” (*shakes head*), it was still safe to say that Fash had his doubters. More recently, (last month to be exact) it was Fashawn’s collaborative mixtape with the aforementioned Alchemist “The Antidote” AKA Prodigy’s “HNIC II” with lyrics, that should have swayed the opinions of all the doubting naysayers, as a solid lyrical showing from Fashawn avoided playing second fiddle to the sample-heavy Alchemist production. Oh, you say you need convincing evidence that “Boy Meets World” is worth your money? Did I fail to mention that the heavily slept-on producer Exile (of “Below The Heavens” and “Radio” fame) had a hand in the beats for this album? ALL the production, mind you? Need I say more?
It’s almost impossible to avoid the comparisons between “Boy Meets World” and Blu & Exile’s “Below The Heavens”. You have two young emcess with “old souls” (Blu & Fashawn), one producer (Exile) and both the albums are/where crafted in an almost “Illmatic”/”Reasonable Doubt”/”Ready To Die” fashion. Am I stating that both “Boy Meets World” and “Below The Heavens” are on the same playing field as the debuts from some of the greatest to ever pick up a microphone? Not quite yet, at least not with “Boy Meets World”…but just maybe with “Below The Heavens”. Hell, it’s been nearly three (!) years since the release of the unfathomable quality of Blu & Exile’s debut emerged from virtually nowhere, so classic status may be just around the corner. What you do have is 20-plus years of angst, struggle and….build-up just “let out” on one album, which is usually why most debuts also end up being the most potent material released from any artist, simply because there’s just so much that hasn’t been said yet. Besides, most sophomore albums are strictly for rapping about…as the great Kenny Powers would say: “The cash, the jewels, the Denali, getting drunk on the reg(ular), sex on the reg, yachts on the reg, smokin’ weed on the reg…basically, all the sh*t that man wants but can’t have”, right? However, even though Blu makes an appearance on the ridiculously-funky “Samsonite Man”, Fashawn has established a style of his own on this masterfully-constructed debut.
Right from jump-street, the raucous “Intro” sets the party off on the right foot with what is probably the hardest production on the album, which is then followed up by the clever, Talib Kweli-sampled “Freedom”. One-half of Emanon, Aloe Blacc makes a notable appearance with “Hey Young World” (as he did on “Below The Heavens” as well) Things really pick up (not that they ever really fall behind) with the jazzy, almost classical-vibe of “Star”, a track that exudes Exile’s funk (production-wise, of course). Tooting my own horn for a minute, I haven’t meet to many white boys in my travels thus far that have that same “bounce” in their step when it comes Hip Hop and production, but Exile is one of em’ as his outing on “Boy Meets World” is some of, if not the best I’ve heard in 2009. While not quite as bass-heavy as some of the beats on the album, my favorite cut from “Boy Meets World” (for today, at least) “The Ecology” is Fashawn’s aggressive ode to his surroundings in the ghetto that features one of his strongest lyrical performances on the album. While there is not one weak moment on Fash’s debut some of the more welcoming moments arrive via the “Skinzish” (see Pete & CL’s “Mecca & the Soul Brother) “Bo Jackson” where Exile shakes the rust from his microphone. Also, the mellow-somewhat depressing “When She Calls” adds to the overall flow of the album, providing a fitting cool-down for such an energetic, unexpected and welcome journey.
Truthfully speaking, “Boy Meets World” blew me away! I mean, I knew that after listening to “The Antidote” this would be a promising debut, but I never imagined that it would be this good. It takes alot for me to listen to an album 7 (!) times in succession, as I believed that the last time an album took me for that kinda’ ride was…well, “Below The Heavens”! So what are you waiting for? Go buy the album already!!
PS…November 1…..”BLOGGERHOUSE”!!!! Act like you know…….