When Wharton sophomore Mawi Fasil started at Penn last Fall, he had no plans of continuing his high school hobby of rapping. An Ethiopian immigrant from East Oakland, California, Fasil — whose stage name is just “Mawi” — had been rapping since his sophomore year of high school, but intended to fade into the background after releasing a mixtape his freshman fall.
Little did he know, the concepts for songs would just keep coming to him. Before he knew it, he had written 30 songs in one summer.
“I just forced myself to write,” he said. “I really wanted to fine tune this craft and to prove myself as an artist.”
He added, “This process allowed me to really learn myself as an artist — I learned that I like singing on my hooks and that’s something I look forward to doing more.”
Fasil’s song “Frat Boy Party,” coming out this Tuesday, is one of the 30 songs he penned this summer. It’s a party song that describes what it’s like being in a fraternity, based on his experience as a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon.
Wharton sophomore Matthew Moore, Fasil’s manager, is also a Sig Ep member, which has helped the two form a close bond. A hip-hop enthusiast himself, Moore served as an advisor for Fasil, giving him feedback on his verses before he became his manager.
“What’s special about Mawi is his work ethic and his ability to adapt and evolve,” Moore said. “Mawi is really good at hitting a bunch of different angles and just being himself.”
Fasil has put on three shows since the two teamed up, including a performance at last year’s Spring Fling. Moore also helped Fasil secure a place to record his music in North Philly called Repercussion Studios.
College sophomore Ben Goodman, Fasil’s former roommate, described witnessing Fasil’s growth as a rapper.
“It seems like he’s been working on this non-stop since he got to campus. As his roommate, I think the biggest difference since freshman year is that the quality of songs has gotten significantly better,” Goodman said. “I find myself singing his new songs to myself.”
“You can definitely tell he’s trying to be his own rapper and have his own voice,” added Wharton sophomore Osaze Newton, one of Fasil’s producers.
Fasil doesn’t let critics stop him from being himself.
“I’ve heard stories of people just playing my songs just to laugh at them but it doesn’t faze me,” he said. “As an artist I have to be able to take whatever comes at me. I just put out what I put out.”
Fasil’s goal is to graduate with a record deal — and perhaps even a Grammy. Until then, he is working on becoming more relatable to his audience by creating a wider range of music, encompassing pop, rap, trap music and R&B. He also hopes to put out an EP later this fall in November.
“He’s very hard-working, especially in the face of adversity” said Wharton sophomore Jamison Joseph “JJ” Volupa, one of Fasil’s close friends. “He’s one of the most humble people I know. He deserves every ounce of success that comes to him.”
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