The Break Presents: Kenny Mason

Kenny Mason is one of the newest names to emerge out of Atlanta’s underground hip-hop scene, and he did it in the heart of the pandemic. His official debut project, Angelic Hoodrat, dropped last April, buoyed by the popularity of his song “Hit,” an inside look at the rush of pulling off scams. He flexes multiple flows, a bit of singing and jubilance on the track. “And it look like a few bands/What the fuck?/I ain’t never had cash/Now I’m up/Having this shit on smash/That’s what’s up,” he raps on the knocking Julien Earle-produced banger.

At nearly 8 million Spotify streams now, it’s Kenny’s most popular song that also explains his ethos. He’s a lyrically adept MC with a control within his flows that comes from putting time into his craft. Kenny walks the line between wanting to survive and also trying to make the right decisions—two focuses that don’t always align. When it comes to music he creates, he also dives into a genre-bending style of rap mixed with the sounds of 1990’s punk and grunge. “43,” “Play Ball” and “Partments” showcase this avenue. Then he get backs to his hip-hop roots with ardent rhymes on “Firestarter,” “Angels Calling // My Dad” and “4 Ever.”

The rising artist discovered his talent for rapping as a 12-year-old, writing his own rhymes to deal with all of the time he spent alone as a child. He moved often and his father was a cross-country truck driver. Still keeping his new hobby to himself at 14, he began to realize he was better than the other kids at school who rapped and took it much more seriously. Soon after, three huge turning points occurred: He impressed a pretty girl at his high school with his bars, his teacher told him he could become a rapper if he worked hard and he saw a Kid Cudi interview in which the Ohio rapper shared that he decided to be an artist at 14, knowing he’d need 10 years to really become skilled. Taking this as a sign, Kenny made the same choice, and never looked back.

His time in high school included a music technology class, where he learned the invaluable skill of recording himself. After finishing with school, he and a few of his friends decided they wanted to build a studio. They pooled their money together over the years and built one. Kenny used this time to sharpen his rapping and mixing abilities while throwing himself into Atlanta’s competitive underground rap scene. After numerous projects that are now deleted, Kenny grew into the rapper that the world was introduced to on Angelic Hoodrat in 2020. Here he is a year later, on the precipice of taking another huge next step in his career with a new release, Angelic Hoodrat: Supercut. The effort was initially supposed to be a deluxe edition of Angelic Hoodrat, but instead, Kenny released 12 new songs.

Get to know Atlanta’s next up in this week’s edition of XXL‘s The Break.

Age: 26

Hometown: Atlanta

I grew up listening to: “My dad used to play a whole lot of Tupac Shakur and shit like that. He played that so much that I knew them songs like the back of my hand. But as far as like a person on my own, who I like was a first real fanatic of, was Lil Wayne. That ‘Go DJ’ shit dropped and that was my favorite song. I always asked my stepmama to turn that song up in the car. When I played video games, like Tony Hawk Pro Skater, I would play them games so much that I would know the songs they play in the background. And I’d be looking ’em up on YouTube, and that sent me down a rabbit hole of finding more alternative rock artists.”

My style’s been compared to: “Early in the beginning, Lil Wayne. People have definitely said Kendrick Lamar. I always feel good when folks say I sound like certain rock bands that I don’t sound nothing like; I’m making rock music and that’s the first band they think of. I appreciate all of it. And they’re great artists too. It’s a good kind of pressure.”

I’m going to blow up because: “If it feels right to me. I don’t really do much questioning. It’s just a lot of mechanisms that could cause you to overthink and overact or underact. I appreciate anybody listening, that got something to say. But I also can’t take what they say personally, good or bad. It’ll throw me off; I have to feel something.”

What’s your most slept-on song, and why?: “I feel like the whole first project [Angelic Hoodrat]. I don’t wanna say slept on. The whole point of [the new album], Angelic Hoodrat: Supercut, is to bring the new people back to the first project. That’s why it’s the same title. I feel like more people can have the opportunity to hear it. Most folks been talking about the first album ’cause I know they ain’t really hear it yet.”

My standout records to date have been: “‘Hit’ as far as views and stuff like that. I love that, that’s fine. I think some of the most important songs are like ‘Angelic Hoodrat’ and ‘Firestarter.’ Those two songs are kinda like sister songs to me ’cause they have the same feeling. They just really explain a lot about my life. Truth be told, I feel like views and shit like that can be deceiving. How much people really like a song; I’ll know the answer to that once we go on the road and we do these shows. It’s hard for me to gauge from just being at home. That’s how I knew ‘Hit’ was gon’ be fye before it even dropped; folks knew the words before it was even out.”

My standout moments to date have been: “Performing. I’ve had some real fye shows and that’s always gon’ be the most important thing to me—performing in front of new people every time. I ain’t got no awards or nothin’ yet. I ain’t met an idol of mine yet. That would be great. But there is nothing more important than being in front of those folks and sharing that connection with them live. That’s when I’ve felt the most rewarded as an artist.”

Most people don’t know: “I’m vegan. It happened during the pandemic, I just stopped eating meat. My homegirl, she pushed me to do it. She was just like ‘It’s gon’ be better for your body, your health, the environment.’ And then I watched all these documentaries, and it made me mad. It started off with me doing it once a week until I only ate meat twice a week, and now it’s just like ‘Bro, fuck that shit.’ I feel great. I got way more energy. It’s way easier to work out, like a body makeover, for real.”

I’m going to be the next: “Kenny Mason. I ain’t gon’ be like nobody.”

Follow Kenny Mason on SoundCloud and Instagram.

Standouts:

“Hit”

“Angelic Hoodrat”

“Much Money” featuring Freddie Gibbs

Angelic Hoodrat: Supercut

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