The Mic Movement caught up to Fashawn and Murs in Berlin at the Bohannon before they performed tracks from their album together, This Generation. They talk about their circumstances, inspirations, homophobia, growing up and manhood.
The full transcript and interview is below.
MM: Okay, so – “life a shorty shouldn’t be so rough”.
Fashawn: It shouldn’t, but somehow, for some of us, it is.
Fashawn: That was one of the first songs I recorded with Exile, the man who produced my first album, that was like one of the first songs, that we heard, and I recorded it and he was like, “yo we might have to do a whole album”, you know what I’m saying, so, yeah man, thats just a song, thats just a honest memoir of my life, its really direct, theres nothing metaphorical about it, its just, really a biographical piece on my life.
MM: Did you catch any flack for that song from like, your peoples? Were they like, thats a lil bit too much truth?
Fashawn: No. I live my life out there like that, like my whole life has been an open book. I remember growing up, my parents get into it, mom and my stepdad at the time get into it, and the whole like neighborhood was watching the scene. We would just have to deal with the embarrassment. Basically I grew out of it and was like, yo like, fuck it, like this is my life, you know what Im saying, so, and my whole family caught on as well. And the song is really lighthearted, even though I’m talking about some really foul shit, its really light hearted, you now, so, they kinda laughed when they heard it. I guess to stop from crying, you know? Like they say, it’ll make you laugh or it’ll make you cry? So I was talking bout some harsh stuff but when they first heard it they were like “aw, i remember that” so no flack at all, no.
MM: So your style has a lot to do with truth telling and everything like that.
Fashawn: I would like to think so, yeah.
MM: Do you ever find yourself sorta censoring yourself, like nahw I can’t say that.
Fashawn: Uhm, nahw, not at all. Once I arrive at that point, I know I should say it, you know, thats when I know I should say something. If someones telling me like “ahh” that excites me, you now so, yeah, I live for that. I never censor myself. Never.
MM: And how long have you guys (Murs and Fashawn) known each other?
Fashawn: Uhm, I’ve known Murs for about…I would say I”m just getting to know him this year. I’ve known of him for years, but I’m just getting to know him I ouwld say like this year, you know what I mean, both of our relationship started fresh, because when we first met, it was a interesting situation, umm we were actually somewhere in the bay area, and we almost fought the first time we met, you know what Im saying. It was some prior beef, with some people I was with and some people he was rocking with, and you know, but this was before I had an album out, and he probably didn’t even know I was in that crew with those people, but umm it was almost beef when we first met so I woulda never in a million years thought that we would become friends, or you know, collaborate on a whole LP, but yeah, mature men like our selves, we think past that and we move on and we can make music, man, like all brothers should man. Let all that bullshit go and just, you know, elevate. Shut the window and close the door. and all that shit but yeah, yeah, yeah shout out to Mercy Alago the only two people with callbacks, me and DJ Quid i believe,
Murs: How’d you know that?
Fashawn: See, thats my man
MM: So, I’m gonna shift gears a lil bit here,
MM: (to Murs) How you doing?
MM: Do you have a smile, you smile a lil bit? Sometimes? You just hardcore!
Murs: mmmm. Not when people ask me questions, I hate answering questions.
MM: Oh for real? So just say some shit.
Murs: Uhm, I don’t know man, Fash has really made me think right now.
When you think you shouldn’t say something, you should say it, I should have just kept the crip crip in there for the song. But I didn’t, I always feel like I’m jeopardizing, when I’m rapping with other people, I always feel like I could be putting you in a situation, but fuck it. next time I’m just gonna say crip crip. Thats a life lesson from this point on. When I don’t think Im gonna say something.Thats the benefit of working with Fash, even though he’s younger, umm, I still learn a lot from him, every moment, he’s very wise. I think that, growing up in the circumstances we grew up in…yeah, look at him, he’s very wise. Like Malcolm.
Fashawn: Thats my wise face.
Murs: But growing up in circumstances like we grew up in, its either going to make you extremely childish, or very mature. I gotta a lot of homies that are stuck being 16 for the rest of their life, and I got homies like Fash, like myself in common who’ve seen a lot and been through a lot whether its my parents, Ive seen my momma go through a lot, Ive seen my homies go through a lot, I’ve seen people die, I’ve been shot at, I’ve been beat, almost to death, people tried to beat me to death, like, so, its brought up a certain maturity and a certain clarity and a certain dedication, and a certain, just, state of mind, thats why I feel like I”m able to relate and thats where I think the term “This Generation” for our album comes from, cuz, the same shit that was going up when he was growing up kinda same shit that I was growing up, and he was still hit by the crack epidemic, and gang banging, and I was too, and I think its formed a generation of kids that, like I said, that either some of us are, and you hear em on records, there still talking about, all they talk about is partying and having a good time cuz they’re stuck being 16 forever, and some of us mature beyond that like people like Nas, like, I’m not always the hugest Nas fan but like, I respect him so much cuz he’s always stayed in his own lane .He’s been very… Some people would question his character but I feel like he’s been very honest, umm like almost to a fault, just like Fash was saying, if he feels like he shouldn’t say it he says it. It’s just a ver authentic energy and it’s been existing in hip-hop for a long time but he’s from similar circumstances that we’re all from. I mean, I feel like not to put myself on the lyrical level of Nas but just the mentality and the energy that he gives off listening to him, I feel like he’s part of that generation as well. He’s a little bit older than both of us. That’s what I have to say.
Fashawn: Let her ask her questions.
MM: I know but he came prepared with his own ready made interview.
Fashawn: Murs. Mercy. Lawd have mercy.
MM: I had a lot of respect for that joint that you dropped – the anti-homophobia joint.
Murs: Which was really dope. We came to Berlin The Jamaican restaurant that we wanted to go to was closed and the man. I don’t know if he wants to be out there like that
MM: It was Rosa Caleta wasn’t it?
MM: He’s fine.
Murs: He’s fine with it?
MM: Yeah he’s fine.
Murs: I think it’s beautiful that that man… I think it’s unfortunate probably that he had to come here to be comfortable and be successful because, you know, I had my dreads and I spent a lot of time in JA (Jamaica) I spent a lot of time growing up around a lot of Rastas and I just still, just, don’t agree with homophobia and in Jamaica it’s very very strong. I felt that energy being there 2 or 3 times I think. It’s overwhelming. I’M like, if you guys can get over this, then maybe you guys can conquer- focus your attention on conquering some of this poverty, cuz its just, the Jamaican spirit is so strong – such a strong people. Jamaica, Haiti, they were able to hold on to something that American Blacks-we were broken- they broke us- America broke our spirit, they broke us in half again and again. With slavery they broke us, with the religion they broke us, I think even desegregation kinda broke us, cuz we were starting to get strong in our own communities, and then we desegregated, and we kinda lost our independence and we started becoming reliant. I see how its helped, and no disrespect to the people that fought for it, but at the same time, but like my grandfather, my great-grandfather, feel like in another way it made a lot of black people dependent on white people, like before they wouldn’t let us in, so we had to build our own stores and our own schools and it was going well, and then when segregation happened, it kinda weakened us. So they broke us again. Then as we were getting strong they killed Malcolm, they killed Martin, and they destroyed the Black Panthers. Like, we’re consistently being broken, and, with Obama I think we’re finally building up. But now you have people like Cornell West and Tavis Smiley breaking him off, and its just like yo, like, now we’re breaking ourselves in the public. Its funny because they’re so intelligent but they’re doing the same thing gang bangers do. Let that man live as a symbol, don’t destroy that, and you know, behind closed doors if you disagree, cool. But I don’t think we’re healed enough as a people for them to be attacking him.
Murs: I don’t attack any other black man publicly whether I disrespect what they’re saying in their rhymes, I try not to. Cuz even the most negative rapper has about 10 dudes with him that he took out of the ghetto and if I attack his art form, I’m taking away from those mouths he’s feeding. Whether you think Rick Ross is a bad rapper, he has a community organization where he gives back, were I to diss him, like, some of my fans don’t like his music, were I to follow them and, “yeah, fuck Rick Ross”, and a lot of my fans are white, were I to join a bunch of white people against a black man, hell no. I just, I’m really confused. But back to Jamaica, I think that, them and Haiti, they have such a more opportunity, they’re such a more stronger black people and its beautiful, and I wish they wouldn’t use they’re strength to hate each other like that. I have nothing against homosexuals, and it makes me just as uncomfortable, its okay to say, it makes me uncomfortable. I kissed a man in the video, I would never kiss a man again. I’m not gonna say that I liked it, that doesn’t make me homophobic, I don’t like kissing males. But I don’t have to hate people that do, if he likes it so what, lets move on. I don’t like it, I didn’t like it, I’d never do it again, I’m not gay. But, I feel like it was something I had to do to draw attention to a cause that means a lot to me, because its hindering not only Jamaicans and Haitians, its hindering black people in America. Thats another way that we’re separating ourselves and making ourselves weak. Because men don’t feel comfortable coming out, they’re not able to contribute to the community their arts or their talents, or their business savvy, or their strength. There’s strong men who can work and help us build. I don’t care if a gay black male teaches my son to be a strong man, there are strong, gay, black men that can teach young straight men to be strong as well, it doesn’t matter. And then when men come home from prison and they don’t feel comfortable with their sexuality, they spread disease through our community, and its just like, just being honest, and theres also dishonesty in heterosexual relationships and they spread diseases too, its not just them. But its just another problem. The more comfortable we get with each other, then I feel like once black people aren’t broken, then we can unite with white people we can be a positive force. Right now I think we are a negative force, in the world because the music that we make and the image that we portray is influencing a lot of kids around the world whether its eastern Europe, or east Africa, where I’ve been. We’re influencing them to say “nigger” this, or “nigger” that, and wearing them pants around- we’re making a bad input on-we need to heal, and become solid so that we’re a better contribute force to the united nations of the world on a whole. Beyond the actual “United Nations”.
Murs: Yeah, I used to say “faggot”, I used to drink and fight a lot, i used to slap people, spit on people, choke people.
MM: You have quite a reputation.
Murs: Yeah. I was a bad dude man. Like, when you met me, I was a complete idiot, asshole. And I would say that I was just angry, you know? When you don’t have your father, when you don’t have a lot of money, when- just being a black male, in general how white people treat you make you angry. Especially me because I got to travel the world and see how white people treated us, Japanese people treated us, Australian people treated us, European people treated us, how we treat each other, it just- it made me even more angry than I was growing up. I was a alcoholic, and am a alcoholic or whatever. But I was abusing the alcohol. like I shouldn’t, I’m not going to enjoy a drink and be responsible and not be lustful or angry or wrathful or vengeful or prideful. I try to just enjoy life and I’m just calming down a lot. But I think it takes some growing. My marriage counselor recently said to me, my wife went to counseling and he said like, I didn’t know what he was saying like, I’m from the Bronx, he was 50 something, and he was like, I am hip hop. He wasn’t trying to brag or being prideful or anything. He was just like, hip hop was started when I was 16, like, I was in New York when it started. He told me how they made fat laces, and that blew my mind, he was like, we used to soak them in water overnight, and then iron em in the morning to make them stay like that. I was like, yo, we just bought em, he was like, no, we invented fat laces, like I’m that generation, he was like, I’m not mad at young rappers today because they’re young. When I was younger and Melly Mel and all these rappers were coming out, they were 27, 25, Chuck D was older when he got on the microphone. It wasn’t kids, writing for kids. The Jackson 5 didn’t write their own songs didn’t write their own songs and come sing it to us. Like Michael Jackson – they didn’t know shit about life. And thats kinda what’s wrong with rap now. It’s just a bunch of kids, rapping to more kids and theres no growth. And everyones scared to show their growth because if you grow in rap – like a lot of my predecessors,are oewrioweirj I don’t feel bad for them because as soon as you try to evolve, or change their message a little bit, people say they sold out. People want you to stay the same, your whole career, and its like no, these are artists, they have to grow, when Nas came out, he was 16, he couldn’t be rapping about love like he is with Kelis, and being very honest right now that helps people that I know that are married, or going through a divorce. it helps when you see people that are in the public eye, be honest and authentic about it. but, you know, people kept saying, he’s a sucker, he’s a this, and you now, people talked a lot of shit about him. 50, everyone went at him for being in love and getting married and admire him for this cuz he went all out. But they usually only admire you if you go all out, for your street cred. But if you go all out for love, your a bitch, or your selling out or if you go all out for money, or if you go all out for your community, you’re “conscious”, you’re a “backpack”. Everybody wants to create a box when we all should be free to evolve and grow. And I’ve grown, a lot. And all these conclusions I’ve come to myself, through traveling, and just, being honest. People always say “keep it real” and this is me keeping it real. Like, I may be uncomfortable seeing two men kiss on TV, but that doesn’t mean, that I should hate them. And I’m okay with saying that I was wrong for being hateful. And its okay to be wrong, and grow from there, and I don’t know, a lot of people don’t like to be wrong, and thats a part of growing. Yeah, so yeah, I came to those conclusions myself, but by reasoning with older people younger people – like Fash just said something right now that I took to heart cuz I get caught up a lot, I’m really neurotic and I’m like, “ahh, I shouldn’t say that, people are gonna think this, and…I can’t do this and…” but he’s right, like when you feel like you shouldn’t say something, thats when you should say something. And then how people react is gonna promote some type of growth. If it has a positive affect then you’re going to continue to grow in that manner. If it has a negative affect, then you know for sure. But you never know if you are just battling it inside. Cuz we don’t exist in here (points to heart), human beings exist in relation to each other. People a lot of times make the mistake of separating themselves, and not making action, but you don’t exist in here (points at head) anything that you’re thinking in here is not real to us out here, whether its your love for your homeboy, or your love for your mother, be conscious of that, because if your not showing it, you can think it all the time, and you can even say it, but until you really manifest it, make sure you’re heard, it doesn’t exist. And that’s all a part of my growth. And I’m still growing.
Fashawn: Day by day, true about it, and if you don’t know what he’s saying, read about it.
Murs: Where was that quote from?
Fashawn: I think Earl Simmons. AKA, DMX.
Murs: Oh that Earl Simmons, not Earl Stevens. Earl Simmons. Yeah thats his name, you’re right. Rap monster. I hope to see that man continue to grow.
Fashawn: Murs, thanks for letting me do an album with you man, appreciate you,
Murs: Yeah, thanks for doing an album with me, brother.
Fashawn: No doubt, no doubt.
Murs: I love you, bro.
Fashawn: Yeah, I love you too, man. I love your hat, too.
Murs: Thanks man.
Fashawn: I also love your hat.
Murs: Yeah, it might be a mistake that I have to grow from. You know, people probably aren’t taking me seriously,
Fashawn: You know what, who cares? Fuck.
Fashawn: Damn, I’m the crazy one.
MM: You’re the crazy one, what does that mean, you’re the crazy one?
Fashawn: I don’t know, I just haven’t evolved in that level yet, to where he’s at. Some people think Im like a really, wise behind my years, kinda. I know enough to know, that I don’t know much and I still got a lot to learn. I’m not married yet but I am a father of a three year old. I haven’t evolved to that level in life and understanding of certain relationships and how to handle yourself as a man. Gowing up fatherless and things of hat nature might be a reason why I’m like that. I don’t know. I’m still growing. I’m only 24. Some ould say that’s old, some would say that’s very young. I don’t know yet. My story is still being written an we will see what happens. Who know. I might wind up in prison on some crazy shit or I might wind up at a podium somewhere speaking something very important. I don’t know yet. I’m just happy that I am where I’m at in my life now. I get the freedom to say what I want and do what I want and smoke what I want. See what I’m saying, I shouldn’t be influencing people to … God’s not done with me, he’s not finished with me.
Murs: And when he’s finished with you he’ll put you in a box.
Fashawn: And when he’s finished with me he’ll put me in a box. Yeah.
Murs: Or a jar.
Fashawn: Or a jar.
Murs: Or a urn.
Fashawn: Or a vase. Or a cavase.
Murs: Or a cavase. Maybe in a giraffe.
Fashawn: (laughs) Yeah. This is the coolest interview ever man.
Fashawn: And you give the best answers yo. (laughs) It won’t even no questions, and you just – thats the best part.
Murs: (Laughs) Wont even no questions
Fashawn: Thats the best part! He got no questions and got the best answers, yo. And this interview is hotter.
Murs: Did Jay say that? I really disagree with that. Jay-Z never really knew how to interview with me. I love him, but not. He raps better than, 99.9% of the population.
Fashawn: Yeah, he was dropping a few jams.
Murs: Damze interviews was hot. That was a great team.
Fashawn: Damze was on fire.
Murs: I watched Damze talk about. I would watch Damze talk about an ant crossing the floor.
Murs: Damze could talk about the ant crossing the floor, then Jay-Z could do a song about it, and it’d be the perfect thing, I’d watch it again and again. They need each other, man, they need to reunite, they need to evolve. They don’t need it, but I would like to see it. And probably the community needs it, to see those brothers. They don’t gotta be best friends again, but – but I like the way they carried themselves too, they don’t get enough credit for that. They coulda dragged each other through the mud, and did a lot of muscling, I’m really proud of them for being, strong and intelligent.
Fashawn: Yeah, they coulda done a lot of worse.
Murs: They coulda said a lot of bullshit.
Fashawn: They coulda put a lot of dirty laundry out there.
Murs: Threatened each other and shit.
Murs: There both very thorough in the streets, you know what I’m saying, they coulda sent goons and all this other shit. And its been really, really peaceful. And nobody gives them credit for that.
Fashawn: Something happened with Nas died and Jay Z took it.
Murs: Yeah, it went – and they were not ashamed to like make amends, and like –
Fashawn: Yeah, Nas even signed with Def Jam after that.
Murs: Yeah, that was real big,I like the.
Fashawn: Thats whats up.
Murs: That is whats up.
Fashawn: Peace and love man. Would like some cake?
MM: (laughs) Nahw I’m good.
Murs: Would you like to ask a question?excersis
MM: (laughs) Y’all doing so well without me, I’m afraid to ask a question.
MM: One of the things that I noticed from both of your works separately is the storytelling. Being able to paint that picture of this beginning, middle, end – and not just have this, kind of oh, this is what happened, but I was, like in the trailer with you. (laughs) You know?
Fashawn: I think that all comes from, I don’t know, just a love for like – like Murs he loves comic books and stuff like that, I notice him reading all the time when we were traveling together, he’s always got a travel book, or something, he’s writing on or reading something. I’m kinda the same way, like I brought a few books with me for this tour, you know what I’m saying, and I’m constantly writing, and I think it all kinda stems from just a love for literature and stories, and animation, and imagination. LIke, didn’t Einstein say that imagination is like more important than knowledge or something like that. I feel like its our duty to exercise our imagination, and tell stories with words, man. And even when we step it to to the visual level, and do videos, its like those earphones, that like that screen for some people, like once you pop those earphones in, or you blast those speakers, its like, thats my second to tell you my story. Or whatever movie I wanna paint, you know what I’m saying, through words, but its a beautiful thing, you can make someone like smell something, just by saying – just by articulating a feeling. Or like – its a beautiful thing. Or I could bring someone to my childhood, just with my words, I could bring them right to that living room that I grew up in and – oops.
MM: Sorry about that.
Fashawn: And they could smell like, how my living room smelt, and, how my mom, like, – just the expression on her face when she woke me up in the morning. I can do all that just with words, and its something I can’t do, with a camera, like, I couldn’t just snap a pic, like yo. I have to explain it in words, and paint it all the way out, thoroughly. And thats where it really stems from, all the storytelling – and, yeah, thats why it always occurs, I would say. I’m still, I’m just a fan of it first, you know what I’m saying, I’m just attempting to try to prefect it, every time I try to do it over and over again, I’m just trying to perfect that. And I don’t think anything’s ever perfect. Like a piece of art, its never perfect. A great piece of art is never perfect, you know, its never finished, we get to ignore it, you know what I’m saying thats what I do. Sometimes I like stories – even stories, you know. they never end, or they just get ignored. But I have to stop there, like, even though it continues, its like alright.
MM: So, if you can’t get perfection, then what are you aiming for?
Fashawn: Infinity, you know what I’ m saying. If I can’t make something perfect, then I want to make something timeless. I wanna make something that at least lasts forever. Wether its sonic, or physical, or audio, or visual, whatever. At least, if not perfect, timeless. Something that will last forever. And it is perfect- to me. Its imperfections that make things perfect. I love imperfections. LIke a lot of my homies, they got like slashes on their face, bullet, wounds, and you now, just, really rough life stories and really, “imperfect” stories, if you will.But thats what makes them perfect to me, thats what makes them like – thats why I love them so much. Thats why I’d die for my people, you now what I’n saying, because of that, and things like that, so, yeah. It’s all good, every things perfect. Perfection is key, for me.
MM: (to Murs) Whatchu thinking over there?
Fashawn: Just doing drugs.
Murs: I was doing drugs. There was a fly in my whiskey, I didn’t like that.
MM: (laughs) For real?
Murs: Yeah, there was a fly in my, in my bourbon. I had to spit it out. Now its just spit in there now.
MM: No, no, no. No. No.
MM: What are you in inspired by right now?
Murs: I’m inspired by my wife and my child. We just adopted a child, I’ve been waiting to be a father my whole life, it seems like, so, but yeah, I’m just definitely inspired by them. Inspired to be better – I’m a horrible, horrible father. And I’m probably a C- husband, but they inspire me because I think they deserve so much more. So they inspire me to be better. Not that I’m a C- husband – I don’t cheat on my wife, I don’t wife, I don’t hit her, but, I still could be more patient, I could still – just be a lot better, because she’s a great woman. And she deserves a lot, and, my child deserves everything, cuz, he was given to us by his mother, so I owe him – I feel like even more than I would owe, my own child – or the same at least. because theres a woman out there who thought enough of my wife and I, to give us her own child, to raise. So that really inspires me, gives me a new sense of responsibility. Musically, Fash inspires me, I love, love rapping with him. And I haven’t love rapping with anybody, in so many years – thank you. In years I haven’t felt that way. So thats inspiring. And comic books, movies – always inspiring. Life is inspiring. God is inspiring,
Fashawn: God is, definitely.
Murs: Death is inspiring. People fear it so much, but it can be used as an inspiration, its just a fact of life. You have no choice, so you might as well use it as an inspiration, instead of – I mean, its going to be an inspiration or a motivator either way. But anything motivated by anything negative, by fear, leads to the dark side. As Yoda would say. Leads to anger, leads to hate, leads to suffering, leads to the dark side. So, just, let life – let life and death be inspirational. As my grandparents get older, you know, there going to Africa for the first time, like, they’re 84, and 80, and they’re getting all the vaccinations, and its making them sick and its making them scared, because, my grandparents still walk around, do shit, build shit, work in the garden. So seeing them get sick – seeing them get sick to achieve their dream, its just all so inspiring,the whole thing. And then being able to show them their great grandchild, and just seeing how inspired – how that inspires them. Its just life, is beautiful, and death is beautiful. And both are hard to deal with. Life can kick your ass, and death is definitely going to kick your ass. So I think until human beings start looking at them both in the same light, we’re going to have a lot more destruction, because people, abuse other people, because they’re scared of death, and they’re scare of this and that. So, once theres less fear in the world, I think there would be more love. But there always has to be fear, because theres always a balance, of – its just accepting everything. Accepting that there are fearful people and knowing how to deal with people who are scared. And being a person who’s less fearful, don’t abuse the people who are scared. 5 per centers, have it right, in the fact that, whatever the numbers are, whether its 99% or 1% 85, 10, 5. There are people out there that are happy being dumb deaf and blind, and there are those who seek to abuse them, miss use them, and then, there are those who seek – they have to be led, there gonna be shepherds, and there are good shepherds and bad shepherds, thats what it boils down too. Those of us who are blessed with the understanding of the way this life works, are empowered and responsible for how we lead the masses, And we could lead either to quick fast destruction, or we can lead the to, you know, happiness, and you know, keep them safe, and. Thats what I’m for.
MM: Alright y’all. I said I would only take up 5 minutes, I’ve taken up so much of your time, thank you so much.
Fashawn: Thank you, thanks for listening.
Murs: What is this?
Fashawn: (laughs) Southern Comfort.
MM: Is there anything that people should watch out from y’all?
Fashawn: You should watch out for our album “This Generation”, which is in stores now all over the, the sphere. It all over the air. Get the album “This Generation”. Shout out to Duck Down. Duck Dem, thank you. “Champagne in Styrofoam Cups” my album
“Final Adventure”. Murs, Ninth Wonder. Yeah, we gonna look out for 2013.Theres gonna be a lot of surprises and a lot of shit thats gonna make it hard to smile. But, smile. It gets better. But, yeah. Murs what you think?
Murs: i don’t know man. I think thats it man. What were you saying about perfection. – my saying is, “don’t ever let the fact that you can’t be perfect stop you from doing your best”. Thats it.
MM: On that note.