Virginia native MASS is making waves that extend far beyond his hometown. Since being highlighted in the April ’15 issue of Complex Magazine, which spotlighted a burgeoning Virginia hip-hop scene, MASS has toured with acclaimed artists such as Chance the Rapper, D.R.A.M. & Waka Flocka Flame. Fans of D.R.A.M.’s “#1EpicEP” are familiar with MASS from his momentous appearance on the track “2$”. The release of his self-titled project “MASS”, which premiered on XXL in January ’17, features appearances from frequent platinum collaborators. His latest 5 track project “Phase 1” includes production by VERYRVRE, Butch Dawson, DRAM, Mitch Arizona, and Dan Stuckie. There are also features appearances from DRAM, Young Syrup, and Surfwaveaton.
From the moment “Marta” ft. Surfwaveaton (Prod. by Dan Stuckie) opens the set, MASS, and his collaborators show their style, as they set the stage for what is a creative extravaganza. Whether it’s the spaced out beat, the gritty rap delivery or trap-like vocal squeals, everyone feels at home in their element.
Slow bubbling keys sparkle on “Caught A Play” ft. Surfwaveaton, BKA Trip, and Young Syrup (Prod. by VERYRVRE). Its mix of a throbbing beat, a stream-of-consciousness flow, and sly bits of adlibs make this song get stuck in your head and stay with you long after the music stops.
At times fast-paced and intense, at other times spacy and downright mellow, MASS and Surfwaveaton romp all over the map on “Run It Up” (Prod. by Mitch Arizona). This work shows both artists at the top of their game. Just about everything works, as MASS’ lyricism and delivery as at its best.
If you like wordplay, novel ideas in songs and quality rap then this one is for you. There’s very little not to like about “O U Lit” ft. DRAM (Prod. by Butch Dawson & Dan Stuckie). The work of MASS is both forward thinking and classic hip hop at the same time. The production’s atmospherics give off almost a techno synth flavor to the hip-hop beat and soulful deliveries.
MASS seems to pride himself on being something of a left-field rapper, abandoning the typical, tired lyrical themes that so many rappers have milked over the years. And when he does touch on any of the usual topics, it’s with a deliberate intent and purpose.
The production on “Only Gang” ft. DRAM (Prod. by DRAM & Rogét Chahayed) sets the stage by laying on the density, creating a baroque tapestry of sounds, with MASS and DRAM providing the painting and gloss, to flesh out the concept with bizarre lyrical gems.
In all, the 5 track project is a stepping stone to potential greatness, both for the execution and for the sheer ambition of it all. It’s concrete evidence that MASS’ skills go far beyond the typical. At a time when rap seems more and more focused on making money, the underground is still focused on making music and thriving because of artists like MASS. It’s simple and a rare moment to smile and feel like listening closely to “Phase 1” actually was well worth it.