Angelic Hoodrat

Angelic Hoodrat

In late 2019, Kenny Mason released a track that buzzed through his hometown of Atlanta and became a self-fulfilling prophecy. “It was one thing to write a hit, but I actually called the hit ‘Hit,’” he tells Apple Music. On his debut LP Angelic Hoodrat, Mason shuffles through a barrage of styles, sounding as comfortable belting emo ballads as he is detailing how Chevron stations have defined his life utilizing double-time flows. Mason is a classic 21st-century rapper—less married to a particular subgenre or regional style than a wholehearted believer in style-bending as expansive, not reductive, and with a mature sense of empathy. “Everybody’s got the light in ’em, but everyone’s got that darkness, too,” Mason says. “Everybody has an angel and everybody's got a demon.” Here Mason goes through the story behind each track on his debut.
Firestarter “This song came about from me playing with a piano and different drum loops. If you look at the album like a movie, it's an opening scene that doesn’t have anything to do with the movie. It's just to tell you about the character. It’s like how in Indiana Jones the first scene doesn’t really have anything to do with the rest of the movie, but it's just to introduce the character. 'Firestarter' is letting you know all about me, and then the rest of the album is what happens.”
Angelic Hoodrat “I view this song as the inverse or the evil side of ‘Hit.’ It’s sort of an inside joke for me: What happens in ‘Angelic Hoodrat’ is how I feel about what transpires on ‘Hit.’ It’s about the type of person you have to be to do that, or to go and make those types of decisions.”
Lean “I listened to a lot of Kid Cudi when I was in high school, and I feel like this song taps into that type of area or space, because I always like rapping and being real lyrical. Listening to his music was the first time where I was like, ‘All right, I can be more than a rapper. I can be an artist too.’ Using that mindset was a good tool for talking about what I was talking about. It's essentially about losing somebody close to me. I try to keep it as general as possible, because I didn't want it to just be about the person who I lost, I wanted this track to be for everybody who has ever lost someone. My number one goal with music is to help other people; more so than any other reason. Sometimes it’s just for pure sport. It can be for vanity or whatever, too. I'm human. I ain't scared to admit that. But I feel, above all that other shit, I’m here to help people who've been through what I've been through. I feel like 'Lean' is the most important song on the project as far as doing that.”
Chevron “This song continues the loose narrative of how my day's going and how my life is going. Back in the day, we’d always end up at the gas station after making money. The gas station is just a frequent setting for my whole life―hanging out and just experiencing shit. For major events that happened in my life, I’ve weirdly been at a gas station or coming from there. I get mixed feelings when I think about those experiences, because both good things and bad things happened there. I met folks who I got cool with. I met one of my best friends at a Chevron. I also almost lost my life at a gas station, too. It's different sides of the coin.”
30 “‘30’ is the only real romantic love song on the album. I’m working through everything that me or the character is going through, reflecting on how it’s hard to be vulnerable and open, to let somebody in all the way. I never engage too deeply with that feeling, I generally just put it on the back burner. I think it's going to be a really prominent track, because of how different it is from the other songs.”
PTSD “I wanted it to embody the feeling of trauma, of experiencing trauma in real time. I wanted it to feel sporadic and terrifying as much as possible. I also wanted to include a hint of excitement or the addiction of terrifying experiences. It’s almost sarcastic or twisted in a way that celebrates having PTSD. Where I come from, you go through shit like that and it's almost like your rite of passage, it’s how you earn your stripes. It’s an initiation, in a sense. If you have to have PTSD, then it might as well be yours to own.”
Handles “‘Handles’ represents a jump, or a split in the album; as far as the vibe goes, it's really an interlude. The whole album is about the duality of myself or any person. Going from being less in touch with my vulnerability, and more vain and braggy or whatever. Then I flip it completely and try to be honest with myself in that vulnerability. 'Handles' is about feeling isolated but coming to terms with it and being okay with it. I’m trying to explain that attitude regarding things that me and my people are going through. If I feel alone about something, it’s important to embrace that feeling, using it as a tool rather than as a crutch.”
Pretty Thoughts “I consider this to be the climax of the album, with ‘Anti-Gravity’ going hand in hand with this one. They’re two different songs, but they revolve around the same themes and events. ‘Pretty Thoughts’ is about me owning what happened to me when I got shot and making it mine. It could be considered a good thing, but it also can be really scary for people who have known me, because it changed my personality. I don't know if this is me adapting to where I'm from, or if this is who I really am.”
Metal Wings “I feel like the lyrics to this song often get misquoted. The lines in the first verse are ‘Big metal wings in my back’—that's a metaphor for a time in 2014 when I got shot. I wanted to capture the terrorizing and almost strangely exciting experience of that night. I don’t really consider it a badge of honor or anything, though. I just remember it as something that happened. I'm beyond taking it personally that way, good or bad. The song is more so about other people and how they reacted to the news. Now it's just another thing I use to improve my life. I’m using something that people would consider to be a bad thing, and expressing myself in an attempt to help others who don't have the mindset that I have.”
Anti-Gravity “On ‘Pretty Thoughts,’ I showcase the emotionless or braggy part of my pride; it's a representation of my strength. 'Anti-Gravity' is the opposite, it’s the vulnerable side. I was scared. I even referenced my mama, because I feel like a child in this song. My mom's my best friend. She doesn’t even worry about none of this rap shit. She just worries about how I am day to day. When I got shot, she was the only person that rode in the ambulance with me. She always struggled for other people, including me. I will always rap, even if I never made money, or people didn't consider me to be the best or whatever. It gives me peace. I go hard because I want to put people in better places. I feel like my music is for my mom, my partners, and my folks.”
Angels Calling // My Dad “I wanted to get very specific with the lyrics on this song. The feeling of loneliness has its roots in a type of resentment. The second half of my song addresses my relationship with my dad, and figuring out a way to not let it consume me. I’m trying to understand why that person did the things they did, and forgiving them within myself. For me, music is the only way to deal with these issues. For the longest time, I was just a big ball of anger. But on the album, it’s a moment I’m really proud of.”
Once Again “‘Once Again’ feels like the real ending of the album, before the bonus songs come in. To continue the movie vibes, it’s like a closing scene. It feels like a sunny day after the rain clouds have parted. It still takes place where it began, but things are better. I’m just explaining the life, how we live in the 3 [Kenny’s childhood neighborhood in Atlanta]. I wanted this track to have an everyday vibe, but it's also explaining my feelings on how I approach success. I may not be able to hang around my partners no more. I have to do certain things on the low because I'm now in demand.”
U in a Gang // Exxon “This one is specifically about one of my partners telling me he's in a gang. But it's also about the feeling of being a casualty in your own city. You can take steps to avoid being in that box or you can just accept it. If you’re in that world, you have to step out of the house every day with that acceptance, like, ‘Okay, this may be the last time I step out of the house.’ I try to get into the mindset of my partner. It can be a traumatizing way to live, but it can also be freeing. Today, I don't know what the fuck's going to happen, so whatever I want to happen, I'm going to make sure that I do all I can to accomplish it. Some people want to escape, and some people want to embrace the hood life. You've got to have love for it and go all in, though. If I want to get out of this situation I'm in, then I've got to make something happen. I can't let fear keep me from leaving the house. Overcoming the fear of death is probably the most liberating thing you can do.”
Hit “This is me leaving the stage. It's a manifesto of my success and my team's success. If you work at an office and you get a promotion for running this shit, you just hit, bro. If you start your business and it's successful and blooming, you just hit. 'Hit' can be a whole bunch of different things, but I think it's a meter for success. It was also a manifesto that I followed to reach my goals.”


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