When we last heard from Kenny Mason, he was channeling his inner Dave Grohl on the gleaming and propulsive “DS.” The single and its accompanying video were the first in a new weekly series, which Mason labeled “Wireless Wednesdays.” The aim was to release a new song or video every Wednesday for the remainder of the year, and in my write-up I wondered if subsequent entries would continue his playful merging of genres, or if the 22-year-old rapper and vocalist would return to the familiar confines of hip-hop and R&B. While “4Real” by no means closes the door on that discussion—there’s still quite a few Wednesdays left in 2017, after all—it does provide a platform for Mason to show off his prowess as a rapper and wordsmith, and, hot damn, does he deliver.
Depending on its usage, “realness” can be a state of mind or one of being—an intrinsic quality or something earned and inevitably declared. There’s a mellowness to Mason’s approach here, or more so a confidence and ease to the way his rhymes seek out and find their targets. It’s blend of bouncing braggadocio (“Don’t want to sell out, but I want to sell out the Dome”) and cunning consciousness (“Shoutout to my niggas for buying me plates ‘cause I won’t slave for hourly wages”) that constantly loop around each other and catch you off-guard. Or as Method Man would say, “he’s on some now you see me, now you don’t.” But perhaps the track’s most endearing quality is how genuine it feels, how comfortable Mason sounds in his own skin. That mix of honesty and conviction is impressive in its own right, but when you combine with Mason’s steady focus and clever wordplay, the results are positively potent.