Updated: Jul 26
New Jersey’s alternative hip-hop artist and self-proclaimed misfit Reg Mason releases his new single "HANDSHAKES". This innovative track, featuring fellow NJ rapper and lifelong friend GINI, delves into raw and honest themes such as the loss of childhood, navigating the challenges of the music industry, and the concept of 'clean living'. The production, skillfully crafted by CURT, pays homage to old-school hip-hop with its soulful flutes and horns, evoking a sense of nostalgia and longing for more. The call-and-response sonic atmosphere creates a captivating experience, reminiscent of the interaction between an organ player and a preacher. Immerse yourself in Reg Mason's nostalgic storytelling.
Reg Mason, a talented 23-year-old producer and alternative hip-hop artist, stays grounded in his New Jersey origins. Born and raised in Union, New Jersey, Reg's musical upbringing was diverse, encompassing genres like Punk Rock, Soul, and Electronic music. At the young age of 14, he discovered his passion for rapping and honed his skills in music production alongside his friends. Infused with elements of hardcore rock, Reg's music exudes energy and authenticity. His heartfelt lyrics invite listeners into his world, delving into themes of love, imposter syndrome, family, and friendship. By expressing his emotions through his art, Reg aims to establish a deep connection with his audience. As a proud representative of Northern New Jersey, he aims to showcase the significance of his home state through his unique sound and captivating stage presence. With his undeniable talent, Reg Mason is leaving a lasting impact on the music industry, solidifying his position as an artist here for the long haul.
"HANDSHAKES" serves as a poignant glimpse into Reg Mason's adolescence, offering listeners a window into his formative years as a rapper in Union, NJ. The accompanying music video, co-directed by Mason and CURT, was shot at Mason's uncle's house in Orange, NJ—a place of significant influence during his youth, where his love for music blossomed. The video seamlessly combines the spontaneous and gritty essence of Jersey's music scene with Mason's family home videos, creating a tapestry of nostalgia and showcasing his early passion for music. Take a look below! The 23-year-old hip-hop artist and producer, heavily influenced by an eclectic mix of Punk Rock, Soul, and Electronic genres, has been honing his craft since the age of 14. A natural storyteller, Reg Mason crafts descriptive lyrics and impressive wordplay to paint vivid pictures for his audience. Proudly representing his New Jersey roots, Mason is driven to showcase the vibrant Jersey Arts scene to the world. "HANDSHAKES" is the final release paving the way for Reg Mason's highly anticipated debut album, TESTDRIVE, which will be available on August 2nd. With his unique sound and exceptional storytelling abilities, Mason is carving out his own path and eagerly sharing his music and story with audiences worldwide.
Photographed by Hassan Mahmood
The energy emanating from the two emcees in the masterpiece of "HANDSHAKES" encapsulates a poignant glimpse into the realm of adolescent rap culture in Union, NJ. The nostalgia comes alive as he describes how they would wander the bustling streets near their high school on Burnett Avenue, passionately exchanging verses for countless hours. This track serves as a resounding tribute to the unadulterated excitement and boundless creativity that propelled them as young rappers. The infectious beat, evoking memories of blissful childhood, effortlessly fueled the birth of lyrics that seemed to possess a life of their own. Through the profound introspection that "HANDSHAKES" affords, Mason delves into the transformative years he dedicated to crafting his musical universe, bravely weathering the challenges and resistance that accompanied his artistic journey.
Listen to "HANDSHAKES" now!
Take us back, do you recall the moment you told yourself "I'm going to make this
my career", describe that moment. What made you pursue this career?
I saw School of Rock on bootleg DVD at age 4. Pretty much, as soon as I gained consciousness, I’ve always wanted to pursue music as a viable career. In my teenage years, I’ve started doing my homework on the NY underground hip-hop scene. It opened me to a world full of artists that’ve changed my view on what music can be.
How would you describe your artistic style?
Electric, formless, forceful, uncompromising.
Mental health is important and the life of an artist has its ups and downs. What has
been the hardest change in your life you had to go through and what helped you get
through that time?
To be completely frank, I am in it right now. The most difficult change was moving away from home, and immediately realizing I should be back. I have always been a big fan of giving certain things an honest try but being away, knowing I’ve had work to tend to, was very unbearable at times. I’ve moved back home recently and am getting adapted to all that’s changed since I’ve been gone.
Are there any specific artists or movements that have influenced your work?
Danny Brown, EL-P, Injury Reserve, The White Stripes, and this defunct group called Ratking.
If you had to title this chapter in your life, what would it be?
“The Price of Sacrifice”
When was the last time you did something for the first time?
I was in Florida during this thing they have called bike week. It’s when a bunch of bikers and bike enthusiasts gather in this neighborhood and just show off their rides to one another. It was a bit of culture shock on my end, but it was cool to be surrounded by people who care about something.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
2 things actually...The power of the tongue is real, so only speak something that you mean. You are what you consume. So if you watch junk, eat junk, and hang with junk people. Take a wild guess what you are.
Has there ever been a time when you felt like giving up and starting a new path?
I’ve accepted a long time ago that this is what I’m going to do regardless if success rears her head in my life or not. I’m not Superman though, so I think about how I’ll sustain myself all the time. Now more than ever. But music feels religious to me at this point, so I just incorporate my other interests into my life to keep things fresh for me.
What keeps you focused?
The thought of not being able to do this ever again. Time is limited and the only currency we can’t ever get back, so it’s imperative to stay on task for me.
What has been the most exciting thing that has happened to you recently?
Being able to show this record to people and play some shows!!
In your opinion, whom do you consider to be a visionary? What about them do you
This producer, by the name of SOPHIE. She is a huge reason why the pseudo-sub-genre ‘Hyperpop’ exists. The way she carried herself and her otherworldly production is simply unlike anything I’ve ever heard. Taking metallic textures and making it musical. She passed away a couple years ago but her influence is still shining through artists like Charli XCX, A.G. Cook, Dylan Brady, etc. Very forward thinking stuff.
How do you show up for yourself? As in, what’s self-care look like for you?
I take stock in the people that I hang out with. I think it’s important to have a nice minimal circle of people around who will keep you grounded. I also find it important to know when to just be alone and allow myself to decompress. I isolate very easily to unhealthy degrees so I try to keep the seesaw balanced by hanging out with those who I care for and find constructive instead of destructive.
The past years have been life-changing. What's something new you've learned or
discovered about yourself in the past 3 years? How have you applied that to your
Music & Entertainment is the only way I feel I truly connect with people. Communication & Commitment deeply frighten me at times because I be in the house and enjoying my solitude. Giving that up is scary as hell to me. Finding peers that get me and making records with them has eased that fear a lot.
What was the inspiration for your new project? Can you tell us more about the
meaning behind the music?
This project is about maturation, growing pains, & how where you come from informs where you’re going. Truth be told, I’ve had a really weird 4 to 5 years, and I’ve wanted to capture a snapshot of where my head is at. Before life gets in the way and I start taking on more responsibilities.
Describe the creative process. When did you know you had the final cut?
I’ve made this record alongside my main producer, CURT. He opened up his home to me and, for 14 months, we’ve worked tirelessly on this record. From inception of idea, to the vinyl packaging, it’s a collaborative effort. It’s been rewarding to the spirit in a lot of ways because I trust his ear and vice versa. We both know when it’s done, it’s a feeling.
What do you feel has been your biggest growth as an artist?
Understanding how music is heard outside of a musician’s perspective. It’s really easy to get lost in the plot, and lose sight of what made us love music. Once I’ve started going outside more and listening to people with different taste, I saw a chance to create something new and infectious.
Following your dreams comes with many ups and downs. What would say is the
hardest thing about following your dreams?
The degrees of separation from you and those that don’t understand. Explaining myself to people who aren’t into the world nor do they have any interest. It’s cool and all, and I know people like to say “if I had more money, then I could do this.” Which is obvious. But it’s really them truly not getting what goes into it…gotta turn your ears off eventually.
In your opinion, what do you think is not fair about today's music industry?
I could sit all day and talk about how Spotify is the worst but it’s simply just an extension of the music industry at large.
Anyone who’s read a chapter of a book would understand that we live under a capitalist umbrella designed to reward those that follow the status quo. The industry is not designed to support the artists, it’s designed to support businessmen and institutions that own the artists and their respective work.
Making music all day is amazing, but the minute you decide that you wanna make money off of it…that’s the minute you’ve decided to step into the music industry. It’s all unfair…that’s why it’s important that we adopt the business-mindedness and reverse engineer to benefit ourselves and cut out the middlemen. We all want to make a living off our work.
We have the technology, the smarts, and the examples to do it. It’s easier said than done obviously but from Roc Marciano to Alchemist to Brent Faiyaz, etc. There’s a way. Make some heat, figure out how to package age it, throw it on Bandcamp before Spotify. Build, Build, Build.
How do you hope your artwork resonates with viewers or impacts the world?
I hope they hear something that moves them. I want my work to be looked at as something that makes people wonder what their life would’ve been like had they not heard it. I have that relationship with so many records. I selfishly want to make stuff that’s important to people. Not out of validation, but it genuinely creating a positive impact on them. Hopefully, I can be that for someone.
What's next for you artistically?
I’m in a hardcore punk band named Good Teal and we’re already making headway on an EP that’s due out in a few.
Outside of that, design some merch, play some shows, I’ve been getting into directing videos and all that cliché stuff artists always talk about. I’m always staying active in one medium or the next. I am glad to put this era to sleep because the next record is not sounding like this at all. That’s my one rule: never make the same record twice.
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