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Born October 19, 1988 to an absent father and a drug-addicted mother, Santiago Leyva grew up quickly. At age 12 he was living in a group home, but he was also writing his first rhymes, and by 15 he had released his first mixtape. Taken in by his uncle in Fresno, CA, the young MC soon caught the ear of Planet Asia, who was impressed by his rhymes and invited Leyva, who was by then going by the MC name Fashawn, to tour with him. Fashawn jumped on the opportunity, dropping out of high school to join the veteran rapper on the road. A prolific writer inspired by the likes of Tupac, N.W.A., Dilated Peoples, and Public Enemy, Fashawn begin putting out a series of mixtapes, including 2006's Grizzly City and 2008's The Phenom 2 and One Shot, One Kill, the Orisue-sponsored record hosted by Mick Boogie and Terry Urban. The two DJs hit up Fashawn for a verse on their Unbelievable: The Notorious Edition mixtape, as well, and the young MC's The Antidote mixtape the following year, with beats by Alchemist, hit blogs. The hard work began to pay off, and Fashawn began to get recognition on hip-hop sites and magazines, including XXL, who gave a high rating to his full-length debut, Boy Meets World. Produced entirely by Exile, whom he had been introduced to through Planet Asia, Boy Meets World was released in October 2009 on One Records. ~ Marisa Brown

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