Plenty of cities you wouldn't normally associate with hip-hop have been producing their fair share of beats and rhymes. That said, it's still surprising to learn that one of rap's brightest young stars is from the same place that just hosted the Future Farmers of America's Leadership Conference. But as 21-year-old Fashawn (born Santiago Leyva) explains, the ups and downs he experienced growing up in Fresno are similar to what many people around the country have gone through.
"We're hard-working people who have to work hard to get everything we get," he says. "I feel that really embodies me as an artist: hard work and dedication and really telling stories about what everyday Americans go through."
Fashawn channeled that energy into last year's celebrated Boy Meets World, his infectious debut album that features a sample-heavy background (including pieces of Joanna Newsom, Nina Simone, and the Bee Gees) from L.A. producer Exile.
On Tuesday, May 11, Fashawn will be the main support for Wiz Khalifa at Slim's, showing off the MC skills he learned from listening to Tupac, Nas, and Rakim, and the life skills he learned on the streets of Fresno.
"Being fatherless and pretty much motherless, I had to learn to be mature at a very young age," he says. "You always have choices in life, and witnessing firsthand other people's choices, I chose that I had no other option but to win, and hip-hop is giving me a chance to win."
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