It’s been a “wicked” year for Fashawn; wicked being his term of choice and not at all meant in a bad way.
“I’ve done so much this year,” says the Fresno rapper, recounting a 2015 that started in January with a trip to France.
He was there for a photo shoot for what would become the cover art on his long-awaited sophomore album, “The Ecology.” Days later, he was back in the U.S. and in the studio, recording a track with Nas, a guy many consider to be the best rapper of all time and also the one who signed Fashawn to the Mass Appeals record label.
Two weeks after that, Fashawn was with Nas again, listening to the “The Ecology” in full. The album was released the following month.
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From there, the year was a blur of non-stop publicity and touring stops that ends with the Beary Xmas show at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 23, at Strummer’s. After that, Fashawn plans to take some time off and “hibernate,” he says.
Some will remember last year’s Beary Xmas show, which Fashawn headlined with the local rock duo Strange Vine. That show sold out and was filled beyond capacity with hip-hop head and hipsters.
This year, the show puts the focus on hip-hop. Joining Fashawn on the bill is underground rap icon Tabli Kweli, local hip-hop pioneer Planet Asia and Fashawn’s Fresno-centric side-project Grizzly City Boys. That group, which includes local emcees Halo the Human, Otis Reed and Omar Aura, released its “Grizzly City, USA” mix tape in October.
Beary Xmas is a book-end of sorts to Fashawn’s other music showcase, the Grizzly Music and Arts Festival, which took place at Chukchansi Park back in May. That show featured a cross-genre lineup of touring and local acts, including Iamsue, Exile, Kool John, Delta Spirit, Ty Segall’s Fuzz, Slow Season and Sahab.
Expect date and lineup announcements for the second annual Grizzly Fest early next year.
The smaller Beary Xmas show allows Fashawn the opportunity to bring in acts that his fans want to see, he says. His fans aren’t shy about telling him who he should bring to town.
“I could come back and do two Fashawn shows a year and have that be it,” Fashawn says.
But he says he would rather create something larger than himself, like Los Angeles rapper Murs did with the Paid Dues tour or Atmosphere did with the Soundset Music Festival in Minneapolis.
Beary Xmas might just be a concert, but it’s a concert for Fresno, Fashawn says.
It’s put on for his city, he says.
And Fashawn gives back to his city in other ways, too. Last year, he teamed up with local business owner Ali Mahmoodi to donate $1,000 to the Fresno Rescue Mission and Fresno’s Community Food Bank. This year, he teamed up with Los Angeles’ Living Through Giving Foundation to host Fresno’s first #Hashtag Lunchbox event, which provided free bagged lunches in downtown Fresno.
“We fed 300 people in 30 minutes,” Fashawn says.
On Monday, Dec. 21, the rapper meets with children from East Fresno Boys and Girls Club.
And he’s asking fans to bring a gift of an unwrapped toys to the Beary Xmas show. The collected donations will be likely be given to Fresno’s Marjaree Mason Center, a place he spent time at as a child.
“It’s just supporting people who supported me growing up,” Fashawn says.
Work, work, work. I don’t want to do anything but make dope music.
Fresno rapper Fashawn on his plans for 2016
Beary Xmas 2015
- 8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 23
- Strummer’s, 833 E. Fern Ave.
- Tickets: $25, all ages
- 559-485-5356, www.strummersclub.com