Photo: Corey C Waters
In his debut album, Angelic Hoodrat, rapper, singer, and producer Kenny Mason pulls you into the gritty streets of his native Atlanta byway of an eclectic range of influences and an unapologetic approach to cutthroat storytelling. Few artists are able to consistently generate this level of quality and effective storytelling, let alone on an debut album.
With only a handful of singles preceding its release, Mason dropped Angelic Hoodrat with little notice or advertising. The album features 14 songs, detailing the grim realities of his life in Atlanta. It feels less like an album and more so a cinematic experience.
It was really the strength of the three singles leading up to the project that created the sudden wave of excitement surrounding the project. The first of these singles, "HIT," showcases Mason's ability to put together a song that is both catchy, memorable, and hard-hitting in the same breath. Rarely can a rapper walk the line between mainstream and traditional rap with such ease, especially on an early release.
The other two singles that preceded the release of Angelic Hoodrat, the titular "Angelic Hoodrat" and "Metal Wings," arrived as further demonstrations of his unique versatility. "Angelic Hoodrat" is dark and menacing, seeing Mason rapping about perseverance over a skittering beat. Meanwhile, "Metal Wings" is punk-rap fusion where Mason raps aggressively over electric guitars and then sings over an infectious hook. Mason's ability to create a unique blend of genres and ideas while still retaining a sense of cohesion make him an artist with true lasting potential.
Throughout Angelic Hoodrat's 42-minute runtime of the project, there is no filler. Mason uses every minute, every second of the project to tell the story of his life. "Firestarter" is a memorable introduction to the project, with Mason rapping over a piano instrumental in a melancholic tone. "Chevron" has an instrumental reminiscent of Madlib with a heavy soul sample and some of Mason's best bars on the project. "I say a prayer and then prey on my prey" and "I got more dollars than followers" are just two examples of lines that will stick with you after only one listen.
In "Anti-gravity," Mason creates a rap rock ballad that is equally beautiful and dejected. The somber track "U in a Gang // Exxon" sees Mason straining his voice on the hook, as the hard-hitting, guitar-driven instrumental trudges on.
In his impeccable debut album, the Atlanta rapper steps not only out of his comfort zone but the traditional rules of hip-hop. The result is Angelic Hoodrat, a debut album that will help pave the way for Mason's legacy.
Listen to Angelic Hoodrat below: