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Kenny Mason Interview: ‘RUFFS’ refines Atlanta rapper’s rock-centric edge

Photos courtesy of Tony Rich

Kenny Mason is rap’s real rockstar.

Melding the auto-dripped cadences of Atlanta with heavy metal guitar riffs reminiscent of a Slipknot record, the 27-year-old emcee’s debut Angelic Hoodrat (2020) was an introspective ode and introduction to the streets he reps.

However, Mason isn’t your typical ATL rapper — prioritizing making “real fire sh*t” over anything else. Tracks like “Hit,” “30,” “A+”, “Much Money” and “Pretty Thoughts” all exemplify Kenny’s artistic ability beyond the confines of a 20-bar verse. His hit song “STICK” with JID, J. Cole and Sheck Wes off Dreamville’s recent mixtape D-Day further showcased Mason’s budding star power — linking up with The Forever Story lyricist twice on his album of the year contending LP.

While the self-proclaimed “Pup” rises to stardom — singing, rapping and shouting his way to the top — Mason is more off the leash than ever before on his latest project RUFFS. Preceded by its teaser EP Pup Pack, Mason said his fans have grown restless for new music in the time since Supercut dropped — gifting the game with 16 fresh-pressed tracks on Wednesday (Sept. 28).

RUFFS is truly all bark and all bite, refining Kenny’s rock-centric repertoire with bars that hit you with his reality. “Call a n***a a pup, cuz it rough where I live,” he spits on the highlighted “HALOS” — sounding hungrier than ever amid the “Warped Tour” vibes he elicits. Recruiting Jean Dawson, Young Nudy, Amindi and DavidTheTragic!, Kenny isn’t trying to “DIP!” out of anything this time around — flexing his lyrical prowess and grunge-rap essence on tracks like “NOSEDIVE,” “ZOOMIES” and “333 / ATOM.”

Majorly produced by Coupe, Mason doesn’t “mind being the bad guy / if it comes with a bad bitch.” Unfiltered, relatable and rising to occasion of his newfound star status, Kenny offsets the project’s rockstar energy with slower cuts like “RX,” “BLACK HEART” and “WESTSIDE.” Yet, he peels back the many layers of his life experience — rapping about the sights and situations embedded within his immediate surroundings.

“Good Kid in da city but I was raised in da MAAD parts / Blood on the asphalt, my brudda was half out / my mama had passed out,” he spits on “SHELL” — offering a greater sense of Atlanta’s wargrounds depicted by the intrepid tales he tells. It’s all real for Kenny, though, making the RUFFS experience sonically polished yet “RUFF” around the edges.

Just a week before its release, we sat down with the ATL wordsmith to chop up his new mixtape, Pup Pack, his admiration for Lil Wayne, the evolution of music, his love for dogs and much more in our latest OGM exclusive interview.

Watch Kenny Mason’s interview below!