If you’re a Jay Z fan you’ve more than likely heard him repping his new slogan #NewRules with veracity. Ironic as it is that one of the most commercially successful hip hop artists in the game is pushing this anti-industry motto. However, there’s no denying that indie rap is the new wave. With today’s technology, having major label backing is no longer a necessity to make it in the game. With social media and global marketing available at your fingertips it’s possible to stay self-sufficient in this new age of hip hop. So, we’re bringing you a new artist or group every week that really creates their own rules, and asking them how you too can make your own lane.
For this installment we’re featuring Mason.
Representing Los Angeles by way of Philadelphia, Mason is making big things happen on his own terms and in his own way. Having performed with the likes of Joe Budden, Snoop Dogg, and Lupe Fiasco, it’s clear that the kid has talent. What makes him stand apart is his unique and abstract plan of action. We chopped it up with Mason to find out all about his own set of #NewRules.
Mass Appeal: How did you start off?
Mason: I used to freestyle in high school but never took music seriously. While in college, I was bored while keeping an eye on my laundry so I decided to start writing a song. It was a soft rock song. The song spiraled into a group of songs that I eventually showed to a few people. After extended, interest I realized I might be gifted at the craft. After a few months I knew that being behind-the-scenes wouldn’t cut it. My singing abilities weren’t really up to par with my writing however so I switched back to my musical roots in rap.
MA: How did you come up with your name, is there any significance besides it being your last name?
Mason: Mason is a strong name. It’s associated with a lot of strong ideals but ultimately it was the name given to me before I was ever even born. A name meant to be etched in stone. I like to think that my path is like my name, chiseled into a legacy birthed before time itself. A hard name to represent but I’m up for the challenge.
MA: In the beginning how were you able to make music videos and get studio time?
Mason: Studio time was paid for by prior jobs and “hustles” until I linked up with my current business partner and manager. I straight up never made music videos before because I thought the lackluster videos that many do without budgets were deconstructive. I wouldn’t even do videos with my current budgets if the market wasn’t so media driven. I’ve currently released only three videos “The Brain,” “James Brown,” and “Off My Rocker”; all of which are low budget and gritty, but I believe they are adequate visual representation of the songs. I am currently working on some quality visuals that will be released fairly soon. It wasn’t worth it to spend the money until the single was there. It’s here, it’s time.
MA: What prompted you to move from Philly to Cali?
Mason: I found that in Philadelphia there were a lot of talkers and a lot less doers. I knew I had to move to an A1 market. I had some LA connections from writing songs for publishing, so I took that chance while I had it. I’m finally working with serious people and while I will always miss Philly, I’ve outgrown it.
MA: Are you signed to a record label? If so what was that process like?
Mason: I was previously signed to Doghouse Records which was a developmental experience. I learned a lot, mainly that you have to do a ton of work on your own and only accept team members that can truly dedicate themselves to you and your career. Luckily, I had learned prior to my signing there that people often tend not to follow through with what they say. My Doghouse experience only solidified that truth. My partner and I have now started “11:11 The Movement” and are now running that as a micro-indie on our own.
MA: Can you elaborate more on “11.11”? What prompted you to make it, what goals do you have for it?
Mason: “11:11 Records” is basically the title to a process we’ve been going through for a while. My partner and I have been building the Mason brand, for a long time and when we saw what indie labels do for artists we realized we already do those things. So why not be recognized for them by putting a name to it? As far as where we got the 11, the two of us are one in ourselves, but represent strength tenfold together. It’s also always been our number since before we even knew each other, so we took the gimmick of making a wish at 11:11 and applied it to an already powerful resonance within us. We specialize in creating a world for an artist, not just a market. We want fans to live Mason.
MA: Do you have a clothing line or merchandise?
Mason: I have merch you can find it at gotmason.com under the “shop” tab. The models are limited but we will be expanding shortly.
MA: What is your live show like? How do you perform?
Mason: I like to rock with a band but I often do solo sets. The band just gives that energy that matches my “rocker” approach to live performance. Shows should be a play that paints the picture of your music. I like for the audience to see the emotion in my face. I like to captivate.
MA: What do you want your fans or anyone in general to know about you?
Mason: I’m a hypocrite. Some days I wake up and hate myself. Others I wake up and love me. I’ll praise partying the morning after a great night and lecture myself on needing to take life more serious the very next day. You’ll see that trending in my music. I write what I feel at that moment. Also, I love this shit. I’ll die before I give it up. I’m that kid holding onto his blankie until it’s decrepit. My blankie is music. I’ll let you see it but it’s so close to me I won’t let it out of my sight. Its bond to me is far too great for anyone else to possibly understand. I gave up so much for this. I’ve even come to terms with the exclusion of future things in my mind.
MA: What do you feel is holding you back from getting to where you want to be?
Mason: I don’t feel like anything is holding me back but time and excuses. I stopped making excuses and I’ve been fighting with time all my life.
MA: What advice would you give others who are trying to come up in the game?
Mason: I’ve been asked this question before and it always changes. My greatest piece of advice right now is to constantly ask yourself “What can I do to get myself there?” When you’re observing the success of others it’s important not to write off any achievements to things related to money or buzz. You have Google just like everyone else. Often times that’s all you need to progress. If you don’t have management, look up some people in your area. If you don’t have production, network and search online. Most of the things that you need are at your fingertips if you just look for the answers yourself. I wasted a lot of time thinking that I couldn’t do certain things by not trying. Good thing I had my partner and a tight revolving team to help me focus on the creative aspects. But, if you don’t, shit, get your hands dirty. And if you do, get your hands dirtier. It’s not enough to just be an artist anymore.