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The Beehive Q & A: Fashawn talks about Grizzly Fest, new projects and Fresno hip-hop

Fashawn — the guy currently sitting at the head of Fresno’s hip-hop table — gives us something new this weekend.

It’s called Grizzly Fest and it’s a 15-act rap festival that highlights his current projects, the people he works with and Fresno’s increasingly vibrant local hip-hop scene.

It’s happening Saturday night at Fresno Fairgrounds and it includes Murs, Husalah, Strong Arm Steady, Thurz plus local acts Omar Aura, B-Wash, L ! Z,  Zee Will and more. Tickets cost $22 and it’s open to all-ages.

Fash recently released a collabo album with Murs (who is performing Saturday night at Grizzly Fest) and he’s prepping for the release of his next project, “Champagne and Styrofoam Cups,” which will be out this week. We figured it was a good time to catch up with Fashawn.

How long have you wanted to do something like Grizzly Fest?
For few years now. I always wanted to throw a festival that involved all the elements that help shape me, from skateboarding to hip-hop. The name actually didn’t come until earlier this year. I have to give credit to Hecktik [his manager] for that. This dream of mine wouldn’t of turned into reality without his contributions.

What does the ability to have something like Grizzly Fest say about Fresno’s hip-hop scene?
It says that we aren’t confined to just having the traditional music festival. It shows artists locally and abroad that it takes more than music to get people out of their houses. This is me paying homage to the festivals I grew up going to like Street Rock and Urban Combat. I feel like the hip-hop scene in Fresno hasn’t seen anything like that in a while. This is a perfect opportunity for us as a city to give that energy back to the next generation.

What do you see as the possible future for something like this? Could it be like a mini-Rock the Bells in Fresno?
Anything is possible Mike. Hopefully This is just the first of many of Grizzly Fest for years to come.

I know you purposely don’t perform in Fresno all the time, as to not over-saturate yourself. But how good does it feel when you do?
I am always humbled when I come back to my hometown to perform. To see the audience grow larger year after year blows my mind. For years Fresno has been the muse for my art and every second I am there I am reminded why I wrote these songs in the first place.

Recently, you put the album with Murs. What’s the response been like?
We’ve been getting nothing but positive feedback across the map. Our fans and peers in rap never expected us to ever link up to do this album. I honestly was just as surprised as they were. I didn’t expect it to get received as well as it did. ESPN even picked up our song “Just Begun” for their show “First Take.” XXL gave it an XL rating in their September issue. Feels good to know people are still paying attention.

The next project, “Champagne and Styrofoam Cups,” what can you tell us about it?
“Champagne & Styrofoam Cups” tells both the negative and positive sides of the lifestyle I lead. It brings my audience in a little closer and up to date on what’s been going on since I last spoke to them. The champagne represents the good side of success and fame. The Styrofoam cups represent the struggle and the life I lived prior to being the guy everyone claims they know now.

I know a lot of your fans are still waiting for “The Ecology,” what’s the status?
I took time away from that album to focus on the one I was working on with Murs and “Champagne & Styrofoam Cups.” Exile was also busy finishing his new project with Blu. We both decided to give each other space to do our individual thing. We are planning on getting back to work on it at that top of next year.

What else do you have in the works that fans should watch out for?
Me and my team have a lot in store for 2013. You more than anyone should know I like to keep my audience in suspense. I can’t let you know just yet, Mike. Stay tuned.

There seems to be a new energy in the local hip-hop scene, and a new generation of young emcees. Do you feel yourself taking on more of a “big brother” role nowadays? Particularly with an event like Grizzly Fest.
I definitely do feel like I am the big brother to a lot of the new guys coming up. I was once in those guys’ shoes and I know how difficult is to make it out of city like Fresno. It’s almost like I see myself when I look at them.

Of the younger guys, who stands out to you?
Mostly the ones we handpicked for this years Grizzly Fest. I still have a few names that I feel like were missing from this years list but, maybe I can get them next year.

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