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The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

REVIEW: Kenny Mason’s ‘9’ delivers him a shot as a future rockstar

Courtesy of Jesus Jaramillo-Tejeda
Mason is proud to be from Atlanta and helping fellow Atlanta artist at every chance he gets.

From his beginning on Soundcloud where he experimented with music with friends, Kenny Mason has continually evolved with each release. Mason’s ability to easily switch genres and find new sounds is one of the things that have made him stand out in the current climate of hip-hop and rap. This is especially true for his most recent release “9,” as it explores deeper cuts of alt-rock and boom-bap, a subgenre of rap.

Mason opens his album with “JUMPIN IN,” a modern boom-bap track with a sample from “Guess I Always New” by Love Apple. This track talks about Kenny’s time in Atlanta and his decision to commit to music, forcing him to leave people behind. The boom-bap production also serves as a heads up to the newer sounds Mason will continue to explore further on the album.

“EASY DUB,” is the second track and quickly switches the vibe. The song opens with a sinister synth loop, quickly followed by deep bass creating a sound worthy of a horror film. The track also features fellow Atlanta native, Baby Drill. Together they rap about how, despite forces working against them, they still continue to succeed in their respective careers. 

“FEEL IT” and “4 MY” continue the trap sound, both consisting of fierce bass and sharp kicks. A more melodic approach is taken on “FEEL IT,” where Mason is singing for the majority of the track. While “4 MY,” featuring Veeze, takes a more traditional approach to trap with unique vocal performances,. Mason uses shaky vocal inflections with a line of questions that make him feel like he’s on the creep. Veeze also uses a more slurred flow that melts perfectly with the production.

Mason continues to switch up his sound on tracks “MONEY SIGNS” and “US” where his rock influence begins to make itself clear. “MONEY SIGNS” opens with simple guitar chords, interrupted by an erratic synth that flips the track into trap beat. However, the chords continue to pop up throughout the track allowing Mason to switch flows effortlessly over each beat switch. 

“US” is the second rock track on the album, featuring heavy electric guitar and deep bass. Mason uses aggressive vocals and lyrics to perfectly match the high energy of the track. The track serves as a call out to anyone who might have a problem with Mason. It acknowledges his brutal past, growing up in filth and seeing death around him. He makes it clear that these things have shaped him and may have made a part of the very thing that caused his pain.

The following track, “SLIP,” takes on a completely different sound with soft chords and vocals, creating a hypnotic vibe. The track explores an unhealthy relationship Mason has had with someone, that despite being hurt multiple times it’s hard to let them go. Mason also alludes to drug use that serves as a parallel, making him seem like an addict for this person. Featured artist Toro y Moi closes the track with trance-inducing vocals that help flow perfectly into the next closing tracks.

Mason concludes this album with tracks “CHOSEN” and “LUMINOUS” which take on a much more high-spirited sound. “CHOSEN” begins with slowed and light vocals, followed by punchy bass and keys that Mason’s flow glides over. This track focuses on how Mason feels as if he was chosen for this life and how it’s easy to fail if you don’t focus on yourself. 

“LUMINOUS” is the final track on “9,” serving as the perfect tie to end the album. Within two minutes and 23 seconds, Mason sums up exactly who he is and where he’s been. He details that problems in Atlanta can be solved with only a gun that he keeps his close. The people are desperate and hurting; that makes him dream of a better life. A dream that once he started to manifest he almost got him killed, but continued to push forward. Declaring that he needs no support from the “legends” in rap, that the only support he needs is his city. Kenny Mason’s “9” is a four out of five goats.

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