Kenny Mason’s 'RUFFS' Explores Salvation, Trauma, and Putting the Future First


Photo: JMP

The past year has been anything but ordinary for Atlanta artist Kenny Mason, but this past week saw our hero returning with his newest genre-warping project RUFFS. Between his feature on the Dreamville anthem “Stick,” dual appearances on JID’s long-awaited The Forever Story, and tracks with GRIP, Amindi, DavidTheTragic, Mason has done little else but work since we last heard him on Angelic Hoodrat: Supercut.

We’ve seen Mason make appearances at Kenny Beats’ NY showcase in 2021, and the following year at Coachella across the country, and now more than ever he is positioned as an essential member of hip-hop’s cultural canon. RUFFS, the latest entry into an already impressive discography, continues to push Mason’s legacy forward.

Balancing rare versatility, unyielding creativity, and wisdom that extends far beyond his years, Mason’s RUFFS is a masterclass in iconoclastic hip-hop. One moment Mason is effortlessly trading verses with Young Nudy on the ethereal and hypnotic “SPIN N FLIP,” and the next he’s painting a vivid picture of trauma, tension, and paranoia on “MAMA DON’T KNOW.” Some tracks like “HALLOWEEN” are high-energy, synthesizing abrasive alt-rock guitar with explosive trap percussion, while others like the album closer “WEST SIDE” are experimental and downtempo laments about chasing salvation while wrestling with grief and mortality. The common thread linking them together is the painfully vulnerable perspective that Mason puts on full display throughout RUFFS, tearing down the walls to reveal the artist embedded within.

Following the release of Angelic Hoodrat: Supercut last year, we spoke to Mason about his music and the goals he wanted to achieve. Among them was a desire to fulfill the expectations of his fans and peers by actualizing his dreams of being a huge and celebrated artist. For the past year-and-a-half, he has done just that; he’s traveled across the country to perform, rubbed shoulders with some of the best artists alive, and worked hard to hone his craft while staying true to the artist he is. RUFFS is a reflection of this concept. It’s a combination of painful reflection and optimistic ideation that makes peace with life’s struggles rather than sensationalizing its trauma. 

Listen to RUFFS below:

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