Fashawn - Boy Meets World

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With the help of fellow Cali native Exile

Balance is something people have been clamoring for throughout recent years within the Hip Hop community. Emcees often lack balance in their work, focusing entire albums on clichés and formulaic beats or catering to very specific crowds, be it underground or otherwise. Boy Meets Word finds Fresno, California native and DXnext alum Fashawn [click to read] finding balance in his rhyme book, showcasing versatility, skill, intellect and that balance many have been hungry for but could rarely find. With the help of fellow Cali native Exile’s production, Fashawn delivers one of this year’s finest albums yet, hoping to supply food for thought for the new school while staying true to the culture’s roots, balancing the lyrical and street aspects of Hip Hop with one pen.

When I ride the drums, I outshine the sun,” he boldly exclaims over Exile’s blaring instrumentation to kick things off before noting, “Who knew I would maneuver through the manure and come out clean / Still, I’m just a kid with the world on a string.” Bouncing off nostalgia, more emcee bravado follows with the potent “Freedom,” before Fashawn springboards onto many thoughtful gems. “Hey Young World” channels Slick Rick’s classic and Nas’ “The World is Yours” with a hopeful spirit over piano keys and jazzy horns. Seamlessly flowing from this to a brief yet meaningful skit and then to “Stars,” shows an attention to detail that few pay. From there, we’re taken through several childhood memories full of joy and pain on single “Life As a Shorty” [click to listen], where he admits, “While my parents was out in the streets, I built my world on a blank sheet.” Proving he can flat out rhyme with the best of them, Fash uses “Ecology” for social commentary while vividly describing his surroundings with contemplative rhymes (“Deep inside, I know it’s time for a change / Wish I could reach ‘em / But I got both feet in the grave / And still sinkin’/ The environment will drive you insane / Flooded with demons / Their motive is to get in your brain / Make you a heathen”). Benefitting from an Evidence [click to read] verse, “Our Way” [click to listen] provides a healthy change of pace where the emcees trade bars to rep their hoods. This is trailed by the soulful “Why,” where 'Shawn analyzes decisions he’s made in life and obstacles endured (“Took too many losses so I gotta win / Fatherless, soaking up knowledge from my mama’s friends / They all sold drugs and loved to puff weed / And angel dust couldn’t teach me how to succeed”). The inevitable Blu [click to read] collaboration “Samsonite Man” is an ode to the travels of an emcee before giving Fash the chance to speak on God (“Father”) in a creative and hopeful manner not often heard. Though the album takes a small downturn after this with Exile’s rhymes on “Bo Jackson,” 'Shawn picks things back up soon after. Flexing his storytelling capabilities, Fash uses Ex’s samples to craft one of the album’s most gripping songs, a tale from different perspectives, tuning into teenage love with a dramatic and heart wrenching tone. The closer, “Boy Meets World” [click to listen], caps the album off with a profound narrative, exploring various facets of his life including death, religion, family, drug sales and time spent in a group home. Be it rapping to show off, preach, teach, represent his hood or profess love for a young lady (“Lupita”) a la “Passing Me By,” Fashawn shows us that balance can still be found in today’s lyricist.

In that way, perhaps the perfect beatsmith to accompany Fashawn is Exile. Both Californians mesh well with the other’s style, blending traditional Hip Hop with an updated flavor. The intricate chops on “Freedom” are expected positive points but the melodic sounds of “Hey Young World” really push this album to another level by ending the track with soothing sounds that bleed into the short skit and the following track “Stars.” Another brief skit is produced, this one leading us to the upbeat “Life as a Shorty.” In the same way, the sample-heavy “Ecology” sets the table for the head-knocking “Our Way,” where Exile also works with piano keys in a way that would make Dr. Dre proud, while scratching through the hook, taking a page from DJ Premier’s handbook. Going back to a soulful sound on “Why,” “Samsonite Man,” and “Father,” Ex shows how comfortable he is with samples, showing a growth since his stellar work on Blu’s Below the Heavens [click to read]. Displaying his own versatility, Ex gives the host and his guests Mistah F.A.B. [click to read] and Co$$ a beat that’ll knock from Los Angeles to San Francisco, though it may very well be one of his weakest efforts on the album, it’s still not bad. Going away from simply using wind instruments, Ex goes to work with an acoustic guitar on “Lupita,” giving Fash the perfect platform to spit to his Topanga. The haunting production on “When She Calls” is the score to 'Shawn’s cinematic rhymes. Following the emcee’s progress, Exile also excels on “Boy Meets World,” the closing song, where he provides a near perfect ending to the album with smooth production and an extended piece worth listening to.

If nothing else, Boy Meets World is the product of dutiful students of the culture and genre, students who soaked up the works of artists before them to create a new piece of art with a vintage sound. Be it rhyming about introspective topics or just spitting on the mic, Fashawn’s rhymes backed by Exile’s beats provide one of the year’s most solid and balanced efforts yet, an inspired album with only minor missteps. Giving us a proper introduction, Boy Meets World proves to be a good first impression.

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15 Comments

  • Efon

    This is a modern day illmatic, 5 stars!

  • Efon

    This is a modern day illmatic!

  • Big Hank

    Honestly, start to finsh my favorite album of the decade. Below The Heavens is just as good, I just prefer Boy Meets World. Why, Samsonite Man, Father and When She Calls are awesome tracks and Life as a Shorty, Hey Young World and the rest of the album are not far behind. Quite honestly this is great

  • PM2126

    late to the party but this is a damn good piece of work Time will tell if it's a classic but I'm board for it

  • JG

    a straight-up hiphop classic

  • mahmed162

    This will be an all time classic in a few years. HHDX, you guys need to give underground artists more praise. I dunno how you guys couldn't hear the genius on this.

  • JRG

    in all honesty DX what more do u want from an album? it's a bold statement but this is the best album since dre 2001! this dude is the saviour of hip-hop. like the dude at the top of the comments page said....in 10 years time people will be looking back on this album and calling it a masterpiece. it's a timeless record. it belongs with the greats, illmatic, ready 2 die, paid in full, reasonable doubt etc...it's that good. all the review sites and music journalists who have given this album a 4/5 or a 9/10 will be havin to re-appraise their reviews in a few years because this album deserves 5/5 it's a classic what more can i say?

    • HarryLLord

      co fucking sign to me this is a hip hop classic but every1 is too afraid to admit that a classic came out in 2010 cos every1 still talkin bou the 90's i mean no disrespect i love the 90's hip hop scene and it was wayyyy better thasn now but this is in my top 100 albums ever

  • ASEE

    Typically I don't argue with the reviewer's rating...but seriously, this album is going to be a classic. Give it a decade and people will be looking back at the best albums of this era of hip hop---Fashawn's first record is going to be on any of those lists. Exile produced the whole record, and besides Fashawn's amazing lyricism, every cut has a different and original vibe. Check out tracks like "When She Calls", "Why", "Life as a Shorty" and "The Score" for a taste of how diverse the production is here. A lot of thought went into this record and it really shows. This is easily one of my favorite records to come out of the west coast.

  • Indiemuzik

    Fashawn is definetly going to blow up. Best debut in years.

  • Dan99

    wow, i just heard this album, and now i remember why i love hip-hop.

  • KENNETH_OF_559

    GREAT ALBUM DEF CLASSIC...MIX BETWEEN NAS AND PLANET ASIA...

  • big-uno

    sure hope he keeps this kind of artistic ability up. might be one of my favorite cd's this year.