Kenny Mason Is A Genre-Bending Star That Thrives No Matter The World He’s In

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Exactly a year and two days ago, Kenny Mason arrived on the music scene as part fiery lyricist, part rock star, and part rookie of the year contender. This all came with the release of his debut project, Angelic Hoodrat, which arrived in the midst of worldwide chaos and confusion as the coronavirus pandemic began its second month of existence in the United States. Despite this and a slight moment of reconsideration, the Atlanta native dropped the album in what proved to be a well-executed move.

The title that is Angelic Hoodrat carries a duality that is hard to miss in Mason’s music. His ability to move effortlessly between songs that are influenced by today’s hip-hop to that of which carry a heavy rock influence are just half of the recipe. This duality is also formed from Mason making the best of both worlds, one that represents the struggle that once was and another that is the current success he indulges in. For the rapper himself, this was all intentional and he’s happy to see that fans have continued to receive the project

“I think it translated almost exactly like how I wanted it to,” he said during a call with Uproxx. “People that like my stuff, they get it, they understand the duality of the title and within the music too and I’m really happy about that.” That duality gets to live again through a new edition of his debut project, Angelic Hoodrat: Supercut. The 12-track effort sees appearances from the likes of Freddie Gibbs, Denzel Curry, and more. Along with its arrival, Mason sat down with Uproxx for a conversation surrounding the project, standing out on the Atlanta rap scene, and what success means to him.

You just hit the one-year anniversary mark of Angelic Hoodrat. How has the last year been like for you?

Overall it’s been exciting. I know it’s a pandemic and that messed up a lot of plans that we had, but it also was cool, because I got to make more music. I may have not even had a Supercut if I didn’t just have time to sit down and make it. I be trying to find the good in everything and I feel like it was still some good that came out of having to be home. I’m blessed too, it was people that ain’t have jobs or lost their jobs and all type of crazy sh*t. I’m blessed, I ain’t got nothing to complain about and I’m really happy that we made some cool stuff during that time.

I love the Angelic Hoodrat title and how it’s an oxymoron that you relate to yourself. Why’d you pick that specific title and what meaning does it hold for you in your life?

Well, the title came from a bar I had in a song that’s not coming out. I thought it was just something cool to say, because I always liked stuff with a general religious tone, not heavenly or not specific, but just an aura of feeling angelic or ethereal, stuff like that. I’m also Zone 3, it just goes hand-in-hand, but it really did grow because that was like 3-4 years ago when I say that line and then my homeboy was like, “That should be the title of a song or a project.” So I always kept in mind and then the meaning just grew like “Yo, I’m really got a duality to myself.” I’m discovering that more and I’m discovering it more sonically too in my music and conceptually, so it grew into his own thing.

What is the key music-related moment or moments that took place in your life that’s also foundational towards the artist you are today?

I think like the area I grew up in, my sort of love-hate, ultimately love, relationship with my environments, the environments that I was in. I understand certain things that happened to me that seemed bad or just moments of adversity helped me grow and prepare me for life in general because life ain’t easy for nobody. I don’t think life gets easier, I think you just learn how to deal with it better. I have to be grateful for things that I’ve learned, but I also know why these areas are the way they are, historically too, and I know, psychologically, why people do things they do, or act the way they act, or make the decisions they make. I struggle with my sort of resentment with being a product of that and feeling like I didn’t have a choice, but also I feel extremely liberated because I know my destiny is up to me. Depending on my attitude or how I look at certain situations, I can grow from it and that’s real liberating, too.

You come from a city that thrives in the realm of trap rap (Young Thug, Future, Young Nudy, Gunna, etc.) and more traditional rappers (Deante Hitchcock, JID, etc.), but you stick out in this scene and your album is proof of that. How have you been able to find comfort in this space?

I think it might be, as far as what I’m into, it may be a generational thing of kids that grew up on the internet or having the access to explore stuff that I like outside of what’s going on in my neighborhood. I grew up in Westside Atlanta and in my teenage years, I came up in Zone 3, folks like [Young] Thug, they’re from Zone 3, but also, I was on YouTube listening to Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, and My Chemical Romance. I was listening to stuff that I can’t go outside and hear, but I’m on the internet and I can explore it as deep as I want to know. I’ve always been that way when I like something, I indulge in it all the way. I try to find every bit of it and anything close to it, I try to explore all that. It’s the most like that when it comes to music and different types of sounds and sonics. I’ll find an artist and then I’ll find every artist that had anything to do with that artist. That’s combined with me just being in the city and stuff that’s already right there.

So you really just found the best of both worlds.

Yeah, and it happened naturally. Even now, I’m not trying to make grunge music or whatever, I like the way that this sounds, the beat is going this way, and I got these words to say over it and then it comes out that way. I’m blessed enough to have the patience to make it cohesive. I gotta know myself to be able to make it make sense.

What are some attributes and messages for yourself that you require to be present in the music you create?

That sh*t just gotta hit bro, that sh*t just gotta hit me. It gotta be very honest and it is a little bit of premeditation as far as the overall outline conceptually, but I don’t put too much pressure on trying to make it a storyline per se or a narrative. I don’t want to force the listener into a narrative, I want everybody to have their own narrative to it cause that’s what great art is to me, or so I’ve been told. That’ll get better too, I’ll have more of an understanding on that as I go too. It just gotta connect bro, the connection comes in different forms, it may come in really intricate lyricist rapping and it may come in like me screaming over some metal sh*t. It may come with me singing over acoustic guitars, like whatever way it comes, as long as it connects and it’s honest, I’m gonna rock with it.

How do you define success and does failure or the possibility of it worry you?

I don’t really believe in failure. I just think that people just stop, that’s all. You know? I guess you only fail when you die without doing what you wanted to do. Even that, you gon’ want to do a lot of things and you probably won’t do everything. I think it’s knowing that you tried, knowing that you gave your all, that’s success. Personally, I want to make a real connection with my art to as many people as possible. When I say I want to be like the number one artist in the world, that’s what I mean. I want to connect to as many people as possible with my art and the true intention of my art and make things that last here beyond me. When I’m gone, the things that I created are still inspiring people way after. I would like to make some stuff that in 1000 years, kids are still interested in — in the most humble way possible. That’s something to keep in mind when I hit this mic, I want to live forever through it.

Who do you credit to helping you stay on the path you’re on now?

It’s a community of people, everybody in their own way keeps me motivated. Even people that get mad at me and sh*t, that keeps me motivated too like, okay, I gotta prove them wrong timesheet. My homeboy Detail, who’s also my manager, he always gives me really good advice. He always refers me to sources that he gets advice from or things that keep him in a good mindset. My mama, telling me she’s proud of me, that means a whole lot, probably more than she knows, that’ll light up my day. My partners, cause a lot of stuff I talk about my music, they went through it with me and imma always know my perspective, but it’s interesting hearing their perspective on stuff that we went through, but also their perspective or revisiting through my music. It’s a cycle of life, it’s like a hyper experience. We become more self-aware the more that we do that and that’s inspiring. I get to have a shared experience and it’ll deepen what I learned from it.

For the past few years now, there’s been an increased rock presence in the hip-hop scene, whether it be on the light side or the heavy metal end. How do you feel about some of your influences and others having a spot in hip-hop?

I think that sh*t hard. It inspires me too cause I think I’ve focused more so on the sonics of stuff like the actual sounds and tones. Some people like more so the look or the vibe or the swag. I wouldn’t say I got like a rock star swag, that aint’ really my swag, but I love the sounds and textures of that music and I think that the sonics is what I’m most interested in. But rap music has always been the most diverse genre and it never really got its credit because of whatever. I think that it’s always been influenced by other genres, I always think it’s been a culmination of the other genres. It’s the youngest genre so it’s the little brother to everything. I think that it being recognized is something that is gonna progress rap to be whatever it want to be. These artists that are running rap, they’re gonna be whatever they want to be and I think that’s great.

So with Angelic Hoodrat: Supercut, I see you have a feature from Freddie Gibbs. How did that come about?

Well the thing about it is, I put the song out, it was on YouTube, it wasn’t on other streaming services. I just put it out because I thought it was a cool freestyle, just a vibe type sh*t. Then, my folks was like “Freddie Gibbs hopped on that sh*t,” and I was like oh what the f*ck?. He’s one of my favorite rappers of this time and just period, like buddy’s fire as f*ck lyrically and mood-wise, you already know I love that sh*t. So it was like, damn, this man got on this sh*t and he didn’t have to. I’m a new artist bro, he didn’t have to do that, but he did, so I got unlimited respect for him and I’m dumb excited about it. But yeah, he just hopped on one of mine sh*ts and I was just like, bro, we gon’ but this sh*t on the project.

You’re someone that comes off as very grounded, not too extra or one that will wild out. What excites Kenny Mason? What gets him out of that shell even if it’s for 5 or 10 minutes?

I be rowdy bro, like not rowdy, but I be turning up. It’s just that if I’m talking to somebody or trying to answer the questions, I really want to just think about what I say because a lot of people gon’ hear this and I want to make sure that whatever I intend to say, I say. I be walking around the house talking sh*t. Probably at the shows, I think people really see I be turning up for real. Like on Instagram, I’ve watched people take selfies or be on Live or just be in their phone and it’s real natural and just easy as cake to them, but I be thinking too much about that sh*t, I don’t be knowing if the sh*t look right. I think it’s cool because everybody that follows me, pretty much just follows me for music, which I like. I like that don’t nobody follow me for no extra sh*t because then I would have to keep doing extra sh*t.

What do you look forward to the most next? What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned with your debut that you’ll apply to chapter 2 of your artistry?

Number one is shows, I’m really just trying to be really optimistic about when we’ll be able to do it and for how long I’ll be able to do them. I really would like to be on some kind of tour for a long time and letting people experience the project live because going into Angelic, that’s how I envisioned it. I figured people would like it but I think people will have a deeper level of love for it if they experience it live. I’m looking and I’m also looking forward to dropping more music. After Supercut, I’m still gonna be dropping music, imma just keep dropping, but it’ll be a minute before the next project. I want to just still put out music to build up for them. I think, as far as learning, I definitely learned the run of being an artist and putting out a project, I wasn’t familiar with that. Even these interview parts, these are all still new. I know going into the next one how to premeditated more on everything because with Angelic Hoodrat, I’m really glad people love it and connect with it. People tell me every day that it’s changing their life and I love that, that’s my true intention, but it really was an experiment for me. It really was me trying stuff and I know my next project will be way more intentional, premeditated, and planned. I look forward to that being shown.

Angelic Hoodrat: Supercut is out now via RCA Records. Get it here.