Fiasco was born Wasalu Muhammad Jaco on February 16, 1982 in Chicago, Illinois. Fiasco is of West African descent, one of nine children of Shirley, a gourmet chef, and Gregory, an engineer. His father, a member of the Black Panther Party, was a prolific African drummer, karate teacher, operating plant engineer, and owner of karate schools and army surplus stores. Fiasco was raised Muslim on the West Side of Chicago on Madison Terrace housing project. At the age of three, Fiasco began taking martial arts classes. His parents divorced when he was five, and he went on to live with his mother, but his father still remained an important part of his life. He described his father's influence over the family by saying, "After school, my father would come and get us and take us out into the world—one day, we're listening to N. W. A, the next day we're listening to Ravi Shankar, the next day, he's teaching us how to shoot an AK-47, the next day, we're at karate class, the next day, we're in Chinatown. . . ".