West coast rapper Fashawn is finally back with his second full length studio project ‘The Ecology’. Now this release was starting to become a bit of a ‘Detox’ situation with a lot of hip hop fans, after his dazzling debut ‘Boy Meets World’, this album could not have come quicker.
His first release was something of a revelation, it brought together sparkling production and muddy Californian beats, with Fashawn’s story-telling aptitude. This project and the fact he is now signed too Nas’s label Mass Appeal Records, not to mention the fact producer Exile is at the helm, a lot is expected from this new venture.
Now straight to it, something which has stood out on this new project is that it screams inconsistency. A model which Fashawn establishes fiercely and what made him stand out in 2009 was his ability to draw images with his lyrics. On his first studio project he produced chronicles of growing up in the struggle, his interpretations of hip hop and his general outlook on the world. We won’t lie, there are snippets of this here; on a ‘Place To Go’ he raps that the world is not shifting even though everyone can describe the mistakes. Then on ‘Higher’ he somehow brings together some heartfelt realism, raw raps and even enduring warmth.
On the flip side, tracks like ‘Confess’ and ‘Out The Trunk’ are way more based around punch lines and slap in the face lyrics, this works in hip hop but Fashawn really does not strike as a rapper who sits in that lane.
The production on this album is if anything too clean. This might sound strange but please bear with us. On his first project the production was immaculate, but it had enough about it to keep a hold on those street vibes, which really projected his stories and messages. Do not get us wrong, some of the sounds on this project are gorgeous, the Mediterranean guitars on ‘It’s A Good Thing’ give his lyrics a true existence and Aloe Blacc’s voice some sunshine. Even the piano on ‘F.T.W.’ has its place, allowing the ending to the album feel like a bit of an event.
Though, back to reality and so many of these sound’s on this new assignment do not feel resolute enough, they do not replicate the messages that Fashawn wants to promote enough. These beats make this album slot too courteously into contemporary hip hop, what was so striking about Fashawn was his ability to be justly diverse.
First album syndrome is a chronic illness and someone like KRS – One needs to find a cure soon. Unlike his first album, Fashawn is not playing to his strengths on ‘The Ecology’. For many fans his tracks are like being rocked asleep by a gang banger while he reads you a fairy tale. Unfortunately, his new album is almost like it has been too perfected. Because of that the production has lost its edge and his lyrics have lost some meaning and personality. Of course there is plenty to pick out here which is promising and even a step up from six years ago, but more can definitely be expected from Fashawn.