In 1994, hip-hop group Outkast put Atlanta — and debatably, the South — on the map with its critically-acclaimed album “Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik.” What followed was a wave of legendary Atlanta rappers who would come to shape hip-hop’s sound over the course of the next two decades: T.I., Dem Franchize Boyz, Gucci Mane, Roscoe Dash, Young Dro, Ying Yang Twins and 21 Savage, to name a few.
While the South continues to wield influence over today’s hip-hop scene, up-and-coming rapper Kenny Mason has made it clear during his brief career that he’s not simply trying to follow in his predecessors’ footsteps —he wants to be respected as an artist in his own right.
“I just take a lot of pride in my city, where I come from and how it’s evolving,” he explained on “Making It,” a co-production between In The Know and Complex’s Pigeon & Planes. “I don’t feel pressure to carry the legacy. However, I do accept the challenge.”
The West Atlanta native grew up listening to Lil Wayne and started writing raps at the age of 12. He reportedly decided to pursue hip-hop seriously while watching someone rap at school one day.
“I was just like, ‘Lemme just say, okay I rap and then see how people take it,'” he recalled. “I feel like I became addicted to folks’ reaction of me doing what I do.”
Soon after, Mason began releasing music across multiple social platforms. In 2017, he made his introduction on SoundCloud with “AIR:DESIRE,” an impressively lyrical track set over a soothing instrumental. He then followed up his debut with several more singles (namely “4Real” and “Nike II”) before breaking out in 2019 with “Hit.” In just five months, the song’s music video received over two million views on YouTube.
“I never doubted myself, truthfully,” Mason said on “Making It.” “Once I really decided that I was going to do this, I had [the] utmost confidence.”
Still, amid the popularity of “Hit,” the rapper is not letting his early success get to his head. Above all, Mason wants his fans to know that he will constantly stay true to himself, he said
“Last year, I was myself, Kenny Mason,” he said. “And a year from now, I’mma still be myself, Kenny Mason.”
In The Know recently teamed up with Pigeons & Planes to highlight up-and-coming hip-hop stars. “Making It” tells the stories of their journeys and documents how self-made stars rise to prominence in the digital era.
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