December 17, 2022 was an important day for upcoming Atlanta rapper Kenny Mason (@kennymason). He ended his first solo tour with his first sold-out show in Atlanta on his 28th birthday. These shows happen annually and he has dubbed the occasion “Pup Day,” which I was fortunate enough to witness at Atlanta’s the Loft.
I got in contact with the opener (and brother) of Kenny Mason, Sam Carlito (@carlitosameze), to discover a more meaningful purpose behind Pup Day. Carlito recounted the story of his son, Sameze, who died in a car crash at the age of three on December 17, 2017. Reflecting on the day, Carlito said, “Kenny don’t celebrate his pup day… [but] since that day we celebrate baby Carlito and his life.” On this day, five years ago, Mason lost his nephew, adding to the emotional significance and gravity of the event. Carlito explained to me the importance of familial connections to Mason and their family, stating that “[Mason’s] dad was there… [and] that was cool to see them connect, making [Carlito] wanna go harder.” Carlito attributed the success of his opening act tonight to inspiration from his family, who are always there, supporting him and pushing him to the next level.
Check out Sam Carlito’s new singles “Crazy” and “Hit-A-Rapper” on streaming services and look out for a feature on Kenny Mason’s upcoming ‘Ruffs 2’
Their passion and cherished relationships were showcased throughout the night culminating in an incredible opening. His openers were an homage to Atlanta’s underground rap scene, almost all of whom had a close background with Mason. It began with an impressive, energetic performance from his brother Carlito, who did not fall short of getting the crowd excited for the special night. He was followed by Mason’s DJ and friend DvDx (@dvdx_) who had a high-spirited performance. He brought out more of Mason’s friends, Vonta Worldwide (@vontarender), the masked MuddyMya (@muddy.mya), and frequent Kenny Mason collaborator, Jelani Imani (@jelaniimani). They were followed by an amazing set from Tony Shhnow (@tonyshhnow), a fairly popular Atlanta rapper, and his manager and DJ, OG Bluetooth (@ogbluetooth). After bringing out associate Northside Mally, he played his hit song “Don’t Look at Numbers” followed by a remix of Steve Lacy’s popular “Bad Habit.” Shhnow had the crowd laughing and dancing with lines like “I wish I knew where to find some weed” and “I got my finger on the trigger it’s a bad habit.”
After a fantastic opening, Kenny Mason finally stepped out. He did it all, from rapping complex bars to singing beautifully after, all whilst rocking with the audience with absolute crowd control. Mason takes inspiration from grunge and punk rock music, as can be heard in many of his overdrive guitar laced melodies, which he capitalized on for his tour. Mason included a live guitarist during his tour, adding a more authentic element to the show. I am hopeful that as he continues to grow, Mason will play with a full live band, further emphasizing his rock influences and drawing in a wider audience.
After playing a few throwback hits from his Angelic Hoodrat series, Kenny Mason brought out frequent collaborator and friend DavidTheTragic (@davidthetragic). They performed one of the singles from his PUP PACK EP, the woozy “Dip!”, followed by a solo performance from DavidTheTragic of one of his hit songs, “DRUGZ.” DavidTheTragic and Mason have been working together for years, so seeing them perform together live was a phenomenal experience.
Mason returned after, playing the most popular songs from his newest mixtape, Ruffs, leading to some of the most energetic moments of the show. The rock influence, alongside Mason’s energy, encouraged wild mosh pits. And when a fan fell, needing to get out of the pit, Mason promptly stopped his performance, got them water, and cleared space for their leave before resuming. After the show, I spoke with attendee Mark Toth, who shared “I was blown away by the care Mason has for his fans. Not only did he emphasize everyone’s safety before the show, he actually stopped the show to make sure one fan was alright. Honestly, I don’t know how he isn’t more famous.” With all the outcry for concert safety over the last year, this move had a positive impact on fans, making them feel safe and comfortable.
The show ended with a brief encore, where Mason pledged “Hit”, one of his most popular songs, to the city of Atlanta and its artists. I discussed this with DJ DvDx, who Mason has been working with since high school. He shared “‘Hit,’ in particular, came out during an uprising in the underground Atlanta music scene. Lots of incredible artists, creatives, and tastemakers were starting to unify in a major way and I believe that song, and really everything Kenny did at that time, were key moments in bringing the city together.”
The song and Mason himself have had a major impact on the city, but also are a product of the environment of Atlanta. He has taken inspiration from his surroundings and, in turn, has been able to make an impact with his music.
Check out DvDx’s new singles “Candid” and “Maria” on streaming services as well as his new mixtape with producer Juberlee (@jupiterjube), “Sensory Overload”
Longtime friend, opener, and House 9 cofounder (a music collective they started), Vonta shared, “[Kenny Mason] represents a new wave of artists that Atlanta is birthing. The kinds of artists that look at the same environment Atlanta has always been but with a new perspective. One that looks at the things around him as well as himself as the art. I also think he represents the innovation of Atlanta’s sound musically.”
Check out Vonta’s latest single “Yola” on streaming services and look out for his upcoming EP
This artistic innovation in sound is what sets Mason apart. Industry greats like Denzel Curry, JID, and Freddie Gibbs have recognized this and have given him a platform to further share his art. This popularity allows Mason to uplift Atlanta and his fellow artists, which will eventually serve as a stepping stone for future artists.
It’s apparent, even with his peers, the shift that Mason has brought, pushing artists to think differently about their environment in Atlanta, their inspiration from the city, and their potential for impact on it. I appreciate his emphasis on music as art, which is something I have seen and appreciate a lot from many newer, more underground artists as well. Kenny Mason is truly an incredible artist, a great performer and a perfect encapsulation of the upcoming, talented underground rap scene in Atlanta.
Missed the show? Check the playlist below for all the highlights:
Jacob Feinberg is a student at the University of Georgia, studying marketing and music business, with hopes to find a career in music journalism or artist management. After years of listening to and studying music, Jacob has decided to share his knowledge and opinion through Vinyl Mag. His favorite genre is rap/hip-hop, but you can catch him listening to basically any genre (r&b, jazz, rock, etc.). Jacob has a deep love for music and artistry, and he hopes to apply that by highlighting Athens's rich music scene and all its talented artists.