by Mike Scarfo
Experimental hip-hop has become a fast-growing subgenre, seeing a spike in popularity over the last decade with the likes of Denzel Curry, JPEGMAFIA, Death Grips, and Vince Staples to name a few at the forefront. This abstract movement has inspired a new generation of creatives aiming to reject the status quos of hip-hop, and the music industry as a whole. Admittedly it is a sound I find myself gravitating towards, having covered a few of these acts in the past: most notably Chicago duo Angry Blackmen, and of course, Massachusetts’ very own TAHA.
However, LA-based, San Diego-native Sid Mason is primed to be the next formidable voice in the industrial realm of hip-hop on the coattails of his latest single “DIV”.
Production-wise, “DIV” provides a chilling ambiance for its audience, layered with dark-toned electric guitars, heavy drums, and warped synths. Arcane Beats, the track’s lead producer, creates a haunting, evocative world that allows Mason’s aggressive vocal delivery to thrive in this soul-stirring soundscape. Check out the visuals below, and you'll see what I mean.
But the aesthetic created by Arcane Beats, Sid Mason, and of course the engineer work by Sam Kumar Tandon of Rose Quartz Masterting, is merely a glimpse on the surface into the impressive depth “DIV” has to offer. Mason’s politically charged, thought-provoking lyricism is truly the surprise element of this song. Conceptually, “DIV” ranges from criticizing the cutthroat mindset amongst music industry elites, to deeper religious and social commentary.
Mason highlights the importance of having purpose as an artist, alluding to those who make music for the wrong reasons such as obtaining clout or wealth: “chasin’ quick cash / this the wrong industry / I’m always outta pocket / this money never meant shit to me”. Mason reflects on values held by the “gatekeepers” within the business side of the music industry, noting the politics or “empty promises” many indie artists experience throughout their careers. He portrays this idea through comparing these “gatekeepers” to “philistines”, or in other words, someone who is hostile or indifferent towards culture and arts. His clear oxymoron juxtaposes the lack of integrity industry moguls possess, versus the mentality they should actually maintain for the sake of music culture as a whole. He concludes by claiming that for these reasons he will stay fully independent in his career.
Mason continues to critique the hypocrisy of religious values in our society, addressing the irony of those in religious positions of power who preach holiness while simultaneously sinning just as often as the average person, if not more. He also voices his own uncomfortability as a child of immigrants in a country that continues to oppress its immigrants, again another hypocrisy of America’s societal foundation. Mason clearly is not afraid to speak his mind, drawing from his own personal anecdotes.
This year, Sid Mason is gearing up to release a series of singles depicting numerous internal and external struggles that encompass him, with “DIV” being an immaculate entry point to his upcoming work.
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