Published Feb 24, 2015Appearing on stage with Nas at last year's SXSW could have been a blessing or a curse for Fashawn. Of course, Fashawn's eventual signing to Nas' Mass Appeal roster alongside Run the Jewels helped to bring more attention to the Fresno, CA MC beyond his loyal cadre of supporters, but with his sophomore album already being highly anticipated, it could have placed unmatchable expectations on the record. Thankfully, The Ecology lays waste to this theory.
After all, it's been nearly six years since Fashawn dropped his debut LP, Boy Meets World, which heralded all types of potential. Anchored by well-regarded beat maven Exile, that record established Fashawn's penchant for unflinchingly honest and introspective lyrics delivered with undeniable technical precision. On new album The Ecology, Fashawn impressively builds on this foundation, expanding his oeuvre both sonically and lyrically. The familial unrest that figured prominently on Boy Meets World shows up in the conflicting emotions of "Mother" and "Man of The House," yet Fashawn's joy of being a father positively beams from "Higher." The latter track also features the line "Headliner? / Shit, I'm glad I even made the flyer," underlining the fact that Fashawn has never been mistaken for being a party-starting MC. But there he is, effortlessly riding Exile's incendiary buzz-saw track for "Out The Trunk."
The DJ Khalil produced "Something To Believe In," featuring Nas and Aloe Blacc, is typical of Fashawn's lyrical and sonic growth. Tinged with vintage Afrobeat instrumentation, Fashawn hangs admirably with his label boss, assertively vowing he's in it for the long haul, issuing a forthright missive that confirms The Ecology was definitely worth the wait. (Mass Appeal)