Editors’ Notes ShooterGang Kony is only 21, but he’s already lived a long life. The Sacramento-born rapper’s music is birthed from tragedy, with street-level storytelling about the hardships that face too many young black men in the United States. “Where I live, we’re still tied to the streets,” he tells Apple Music. “I've still got people dying out here. So everything I'm telling, it's easy to talk about because it's happening every day.” Even his more upbeat songs―which he refers to as his “Vegas songs” or his “club songs”―can’t escape the trouble he’s had to engage with in order to survive. But because of his success (he broke through with 2019’s Second Hand Smoke), he’s able to offer some advice to his community still struggling to find light in an astoundingly bleak situation. “I'm a real gangster rapper at the end of the day,” he says, before adding, “All I'm doing is narrating the hood's story.” Here he talks through each song on Red Paint Reverend.

Kony (Intro)
“With the intro to start the album, I came in with no hooks to present gas. When I say gas, I'm talking about real lyrics, I'm just showing you who I am. That's why I say my name at the end of the song, because I'm just trying to tell you what it is and who I am as a way to introduce the tape. I'm a real gangster rapper at the end of the day, but I elevate myself over other gangster rappers because I think I am versatile. And I play with my words and I'm good at it, better than everybody else. That's why I came in like that, no hooks or choruses, just straight gas through the whole thing.”

Industry (feat. Lil Bean)
“‘Industry’ is really my intro, for real, it’s all about me following up. I went hard when I said, ‘When you in the streets you start to lose it/Had the 40 pop before we started music/Brokenhearted black boy got a 40 piece and abused it.’ I'm saying, we had guns before this music. We didn't know what we were doing. We were living hopelessly. And after that, I got a 40 piece and abused it. Boy got $40,000, and he just acts crazy because he doesn’t know what he’s doing now that he’s gotten some money. It's the tale of a successful young gangster from the hood.”

A Sinner’s Story
“That's a painful song right there. That's me in my feelings talking to the dead, talking to my brothers and them, people that I lost on the journey while making this album. These are the people that recently passed that I'm talking about. Even if I don't say everyone’s names, I'm talking about multiple brothers that I lost during this time.”

Jungle
“This was one of those where I didn’t even feel like pursuing a specific beat. This is all about me in the studio vibing with the producer in there. I was in Vegas around the time when I made this song. I was fresh off the table, just hit for like $4,000, you feel me? I came back to the house, I was feeling good, I'm talking hella shit. I just left the store and took my casino money. I'm getting a little loose here, because I was so serious in the beginning of the tape. So for me to play around, that's just showing you what I'm doing when I'm in the jungle life. I'm out here fucking around, I'm spending money, I'm living my life.”

Bussdown (feat. Teejay3k & Nef The Pharaoh)
“Nef The Pharaoh is my brother from the rip. That's a person that reached out from before I was even big or anything, and then had me around him and brought me to a different environment to focus on music. That's how you're supposed to help somebody. It ain't no put-on or nothing, it's just getting my mind out this trapped place I was in. After fucking with him, I seen my n***a perform and I've seen all this real shit. Seeing him made me realize I could be an artist too, because I wasn't looking at myself as an artist. I was looking at myself like I never got out, like I might not make it past 21. So to be able to go on the road and look at people like that, that's what helps.”

Chop Walk (feat. Seddy Hendrinx)
“This one is with my boy Seddy Hendrinx. We made this one in the Bay. That's my n***a from Florida. This was our first-ever song together. We just put that beat on, punched in, and was just going back and forth. We made a mess on that, for real. It ain't too much to talk about on that one, but we made a mess. That's one of my favorite ones on the tape, too.”

Glock 21
“I made this one before I was 21, too. I'm saying I'm not 21 years old, but my Glock is a Glock 21. And having a Glock makes me older than I am. That's how it is. I was turning up on this one with my metaphors. I made that before I turned 21, though.”

Ice Skating
“This is one of those where I’m floating through the beat. I was just trying to make sure you don't forget how fresh I am because it sounds like my old shit. It’s a reminder, to make sure you don't forget that I can still rap this way. Even though this sounds a little up-to-date, a little more new Kony, it's not new Kony. I'm versatile. Everything's going to sound like me. All 14 of the songs sound different, but they’re still Kony’s. I don't want to sound like nobody else. You got to know where I reach.”

Gone
“This is a little banger. We just wanted a motherfucker to get up and dance on that. I just wanted a bitch to dance a little bit. I don't look at shit like club songs or whatever when I put my records together. I just look at them as good songs or not. If the album doesn't get club songs, so be it. I'm not aiming for the club, but if it gets played in the club, then that's good, too.”

Veteran's Day
“This is me showing gas. I think this is one of my more impressive songs, when it comes to lyrics on the tape. I feel like it's a lot of shit that flies over people's heads in this song. And there was one line I had said that's hella tight to me. I used the play on Peter Parker’s name, and then Quentin Beck is Mysterio in the new Spider-Man movie. So I said, 'Do him sneaky like mysterious,' because he played him the whole movie. And 'No valet, I'm a Parker, do him sneaky, Quentin Beck.' So I hope people don't miss that—that was an important one right there.”

Dearly Departed (feat. Mozzy)
“This is a branch-off from ‘Sinner's Story.’ This is around the same time I made that song. It was in the same emotional state. We lost people, and I'm just trying to talk for the people that lost people because sometimes folks don't know how to express it. I’m a person that’s been through a lot. I’ve been around people that lost their first close friends, and I can empathize because I lost 10 of them. I like being the spokesman. It’s my responsibility. You don't want to hear ‘it's all right’ from anybody. But if a person that you’ve seen cry tells you that it's all right, it’s because the person that's gone doesn’t want us walking around moping. Because if I was gone, I wouldn't want you walking around here moping. That's what's important. That's all I'm trying to do, just show that I'm the voice of the streets, man, and you can talk to me because I can relate.”

Black on Black Crime
“I'm on my Malcolm X shit right here. I'm just letting them know that I know, because some of the things that people don't like in my music is they feel like I'm being hella ignorant when I'm talking. But really, I'm way above that. In my music, I state my flaws, I'm stating what's wrong. I'm not going to sit here in the shit and act like everything’s perfect. That's what I hate. To me, that's fake religion when you act like everything's perfect. I'm on some black-on-black crime, shit, my people are the proof, because yeah, we're not supposed to be wrong, but this is what we’re involved in. And we got to stand on that, so we have to make it right. But I'm gonna name my flaws before I make it right, just like you confess your sins.”

Cash Back (feat. Mazerati Ricky)
“This one has Vegas vibes, for sure. This is a ‘hit at the casino, come back home, eat some good food, and talk shit’ record. Nothing more to say.”

Street Talk (feat. OMB Peezy)
“I had to end the album on a note where I was trying to bring it back to the beginning, because ‘Street Talk’ feels like the beginning of the tape. I just had to come back serious and let y'all know this is what I stand for. We could play around and all that, but this is where it ends up at, back to street talk.”

SONG
Kony (Intro)
1
2:19
 
Industry (feat. Lil Bean)
2
2:35
 
A Sinner's Story
3
3:13
 
Jungle
4
2:18
 
Bussdown (feat. Teejay3k & Nef the Pharaoh)
5
3:14
 
Chop Walk (feat. Seddy Hendrinx)
6
2:15
 
Glock 21
7
2:24
 
Ice Skating
8
2:52
 
Gone
9
2:41
 
Veteran's Day
10
2:12
 
Dearly Departed (feat. Mozzy)
11
3:22
 
Black On Black Crime
12
2:36
 
Cash Back (feat. Mazerati Ricky)
13
2:21
 
Street Talk (feat. OMB Peezy)
14
2:32
 

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