Underground rapper Santiago Levya, aka Fashawn, hails from Fresno, California. Following the critically acclaimed success of his debut album Boy Meets World in 2009, Fashawn earned himself a place on the XXL Magazine’s Top 10 Freshmen List in 2010. Fast-forward a few years to June 9, 2014, Fashawn officially signed to Nas’ Mass Appeal Records and announced the release date for his long-awaited sophomore album The Ecology. As a prelude to his debut Mass Appeal album, Fashawn teamed up with legendary hip hop producer The Alchemist to release a seven song EP titled FASH-ionably Late on December 18, 2014. Main themes in this project include braggadocio rap, narratives about his struggles with racists and women, in addition to an ode to his faithful and patient fan base. Fashawn and The Alchemist blow all expectations out of the water with this free mixtape, and Fashawn succeeds in garnering well-deserved attention to market his upcoming album.
1. “Po for President” (Prod. The Alchemist)
Fashawn wastes no time by beginning with this half braggadocio half narrative of powerful Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera. He indubitably displays his lyrical dominance over other MCs, namely “pups”.
“Puffing my cigar, pull a nug out the big jar // Paint a portrait like Renoir, I’ve been raw”
Puffing his cigar like a boss, Fashawn paints a picture with his words like the French artist Renoir. He started from nada and has always been raw, real, and straight to the point with his flow.
The Alchemist cut and looped an intense and almost-screech like sample with background vocals. He concludes the song with a sample of a news report when Mexico captured El Chapo, in addition to an interview with the late Tupac Shakur displaying a parallel vision of success between him and Fashawn in the rap game.
2. “Dreams” (featuring Evidence) (Prod. The Alchemist)
My favorite joint from the project, Fashawn brings on board Evidence from Dilated Peoples to slay a verse on Dreams. Fashawn continues his theme of striving for success in his career while staying true to himself.
“I personify a figure you idolize // Women in all flavors like Häagen-Dazs”
Eliciting envy from other rappers, Fashawn hits reality on the head with his realness and a copious and diverse selection of women.
Evidence complements the song with a portrayal of his professionalism on the microphone. He is a well-known and respect MC in underground hip hop.
“Cause we underground, don’t mean we poor”
No matter what the mainstream audience says, Evidence believes his own hype and success. He is not starving, both in the literal sense and within his career goals. The two of these MCs are complacent with their niche in hip hop but strive to dominate it relentlessly.
The instrumental includes a looped sample of “Sister Emilyne” by Dernis Roussos (1976) in addition to “I Can’t Wake Up” KRS-One. By far my favorite production on the EP, The Alchemist laid the essential groundwork for this filthy cut.
3. “Professor F” (Prod. The Alchemist)
Fashawn takes on the persona of Professor F, teaching the new MCs how real rap sounds.
His word play and flow complement each other perfectly in this braggadocio.
“What you make in a month, he’s counting in a week // Never saw defeat like I was born obese”
Fashawn likes to remind whack ass MCs that he makes over four times as much money as them and still keeps it G. In addition, his word play is on point when he claims that he has never lost nor seen defeat, much like an overweight person who cannot see their own feet.
The Alchemist created a loud boom bap feeling drum bass coupled with a background electro sample of “ESG” by UFO. He ends the song with a sample of DMX speaking about the lord and savior.
4. “Amen” (Prod. The Alchemist)
“Eyes dilated off a high that’s medical // I rise to the occasion, arrive with something Asian”
Drunk, high and tired, Fashawn can still bone any actress and destroy your demo. He is portraying that even at his lowest competitive levels, he still shits on your lyricism day in and day out. The double entendre that his eyes are like those of Asian descent due to his high, in addition to arriving to the occasion with a beautiful Asian woman, portraying his raw game.
“Amen” is yet another braggadocio on this project, but it has a different feeling than the previous ones. The Alchemist’s instrumental is a piano, synth and guitar sample that elicits chill feelings and laid-back vibes. He lays out a beat that makes one want to sit back, blaze up and sway to.
5. “The Plantation” (Prod. The Alchemist)
“The Plantation” switches up lyrical content as Fashawn moves towards story-telling. He was at a predominantly black house party of his friend, Big Linky. He just got done having sex with a black woman with a weave when he came down and three white dudes with swastikas barged in the house. Feeling out-of-place but not scared, the Nazis strolled through the party searching for Linky because he had recently robbed a drug dealer friend of theirs. Without mercy, several more Nazis arrived and capped Linky to death with multiple shots. Fashawn escaped to the nearest gas station and began planning revenge for his homie.
The Alchemist’s instrumental complements the chaotic scene with use of dramatized trumpets and consistent bass guitar. The beat perfectly portrays a party scene snowballing into a fast-paced and frenzied atmosphere.
6. “Songs in F Major” (Prod. The Alchemist)
Fashawn’s “Songs in F Major” bring up his recent troubles with his main girl. He tried remain sole with her but is unable to keep up commitment due to his frequent affairs and hunger for other women. He wants a friend with benefits relationship as opposed to being lovers. He doesn’t believe that he is mature or dedicated enough at this point in his life to stay true to one woman.
“I swear, some be on some wild shit //You know the ones you wouldn’t want to have a child with
Oh no, I see your ass and trowel tip // I can tell by a smile she a foul bitch.”
Fashawn then goes on to unleash his inner Mos Def flow on the third verse.
His flow speeds up and the rhyme sequence tightens up as the rpm and intensity increases.
The Alchemist samples “The Long Wait” by Morton Stevens throughout the song with additional samples of “Searching” by Roy Ayers Ubiquity on the hook and “The Realm” By C’hantal on the interlude. The instrument begins with a dark and deep beat using a keyboard and background drums. It then transitions in a jazzy feel with a saxophone during the second verse, and then a sped-up old school boom bap beat on the final verse.
7. “Never Waiting In Vein” (Prod. The Alchemist)
The final cut of FASH-ionably Late is a feel-good joint about Fashawn’s personal journey and struggle of creating and releasing his upcoming album, The Ecology. The instrumental contains an acoustic guitar sample loop with background singing. The Alchemist cooked up a chill, positive, feel-good vibe to this one.
Fashawn goes on to apologize that the conception of the album took so long, and explains that while his releases have been lacking, his effort has been steady. This narrative acts as a segway into The Ecology because it is now within reach, and he cannot wait to give it to the masses.
“We cook it and we give it to the masses, can’t wait to download it, rip it out the plastic // Classic is what they get, palms itching till they get it in their grip”
Fashawn has been hungry and waiting 25 years for his moment to shine and he truly believes in his next piece of work. This song has an inspirational element to it because instead of sitting back and letting politics, struggles, and outside factors stop him and his life work, Fashawn has finally done it. He is finishing fashionably late.