Mason Parker: King of Bars (Rap Music)
When Mason Parker arrived in Charlotte, NC about 17-years ago, he knew that he was going to be successful, whether in poetry, or as a hip-hop artist.
It was only a matter of time that his eloquent word-play would explode into something significantly spectacular.
Parker was born in Hartford, Connecticut, and raised in Plainfield, New Jersey. He moved from state-to-state, which meant that he attended many schools before landing in the Charlotte Mecklenburg County School System.
He experienced resentment from his peers, and he would get into fights that would sometimes land him in trouble. Parker fought back relentlessly, and during one bout, he took a knife to school (he talks about it in one of his songs). He spent 10 days in suspension.
Parker said that his unyielding mentality, to achieve as an artist, came as a result of going through the drama in school, in addition to being an underdog.
“One thing I had to learn is that when you go from underdog to a theoretical and figurative big-dog, you eventually become Kanye West,” he laughed.
“I feel that Mr. West was so used to fighting to be heard, and then he finally got it, but he still kept the fighter mentality.
For me, I had to realize that I knew where I stood in the rap-game, but the public’s perception is that you have to carry yourself and speak as though you've reached that level [transitioning] from the streets to the fame,” he elaborates further.
Parker understood that he had to change his approach as his level of success increased. Where he was once competitive and apprehensive, he didn't need to fight anymore, at least not for the respect as a hip-hop artist.
Decorated with acclaim, Mason Parker was named Charlotte’s Best Rapper of the Year in 2013 by Creative Loafing Magazine. He won at the Queen City Awards for Male Hip-Hop Artist of the Year.
He's a former Winston Salem State University Poet Laureate [a person who is honored with an award for outstanding creative or intellectual achievement] and two-time featured poet at the National Black Theater Festival.
Adding to his manifesto, Parker is back in theater and playing his recurring role in the Miles & Coltrane theatrical, with the cast from OnQ Productions.
He was lead actor in dramatic performances at the Children's Theater of Charlotte, including Liars and the hip-hop adaptation of Stephen Crane's book The Red Badge of Courage; in addition to his portrayal of The Griot, a stage play of Miles & Coltrane: Blue, at the International Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Parker made an appearance on BET Music Matters at the SOB’s in New York. He debuted a mix-tape called Loose Leaf, hosted by Emmy Award recipient, Bluz the Poet. His single, “So Sorry Momma,” was featured on Talib Kweli's Community Mix-tape as well as on Kweli’s 2010 "Gutter Rainbows” Tour.
In 2015, Parker released the follow-up mix-tape, Loose Leaf vol. 2, all the while working part-time as an On-Air personality at WPEG Power 98FM.
As if his accolades aren’t remarkable enough, Parker felt the need to do more for his community, so he established The INKified Inc. Scholarship Fund, and he partnered with ImaginOn (Charlotte Children's Library & Children's Theater of Charlotte) and other community leaders to develop and facilitate hip-hop based educational programming for local teens.
Parker recently released “God King,” a fiery track that’s engulfed with razor lyrics over a combustive beat. The song encompasses passion and deliberate emotion, where it hit’s smooth like a Remy Martin spirit, and then hard once ingested.
In my opinion, you’re a gifted artist whose hip-hop is reminiscent to the “Tupac” conversations as far as your lyrical flow goes. Is this talent something you already had? When did you know you wanted to be a hip-hop artist?
After listening to 2Pac… Michael Jackson made me want to perform, but 2Pac, Langston Hughes, Gil Scott Heron, and Stevie Wonder, made me want to write. They made me realize how powerful words were. From the first day, it’s always been about touching people and really implementing change.
When did the light go off in your head that you should be doing theater?
It wasn’t long after my mom passed in 2010. In 2011, my boy Q, who’s the director of the only black theater company in Charlotte, OnQ Productions, they did a film called “Rhyme Deferred,” and I was in it. I’m fam, and I’ve always been around. We are part of a clique called Concrete Generation, which is a group of poets from Charlotte, that many of us were national Slam Champions. I think that just in our group, we have two Emmy’s and an Oscar…
Because of being in that fold, people will reach out to you and let you know when there’s something going on. I ended up in Rhyme Deferred, and then I was contacted by this guy, Mark Sutton, from Children’s Theater of Charlotte. He saw me in Rhyme Deferred, so he told me to come and audition for a part. The next 3-years, I was in plays because people saw me in those plays.
I was in theater when I was a kid, but my main focus when I came out of school was to be an MC because people knew me as a poet and an actor. They were sleeping on the fact that I could spit [rhymes]. So, I fought against the grain that the universe was trying to push me towards, which is acting and poetry. I did my thing with the music, and now everything is coming full circle.
What’s your educational background?
I did a stint at Winston Salem University. I was a Psychology Major with a Theater Minor. I didn’t graduate though. I left school when my mom got sick, and I never went back. I will go back when I get time, even if it’s not in that field. I want to go back for film school. I want to do movies, and create my own stuff.
When did the name change come about [formally Quill]. We know that you want to be more accessible in the industry, so does that name change play a big role in that?
I decided to drop Quill when I left radio in February. Part of that was because it was personal. It was a personal decision because I didn’t want to separate the two anymore. I am one person. It was more to remind myself that than anyone else. I went through an ill crisis when I released "Loose Leaf 2."
I got a lot of great reviews and a lot of people heard it, but not everyone heard it. I mean, I spent a lot of bread [money] on that. It was in that frustration and trying to keep up that persona, I realized I had grown past it. I created that name in high school, now I’m a man with 2 kids, and let’s keep it funky... my government name is pretty dope. I sound like I have a trust fund somewhere.
Let’s talk about your latest release “God King.” How’d you come up with that concept, and why do you consider your raps, spoken word? Does spoken word and rap go hand-in-hand.
Well, I started rapping when I was about nine, and the first joint I heard in 89, was Public Enemy’s “Don’t Believe the Hype." That’s when I fell in love with hip-hop. So with “God King” and my spoken word album, The Paperback Hero: The Great Awakening, there’s a comic book character that I came up with called Horus, also known as the Paperback Hero.
So, with the spoken word album, it will be released with the intent of the comic book. The back-story of the Paperback Hero is the main character, a 16-year-old kid goes to Egypt with this church youth group. He becomes entranced because he’s in touch with his ancestors and he finds out that he's the reincarnation of Horus. When he goes into the spirit realm, he’s approached by the 8-fold. The 8-fold is the literal translation of the pantheon in Egyptian Mythology.
They escort him to Hermopolis. , which is equal to what Olympus is to the Greeks. There, he acquires the knowledge of self. He learns his true linage and awakens with these God-like powers. Hence, “God King.” The Paperback Hero is the allegory for any black man that once you acknowledge the power of self and once you understand what God told you, you are, in him, through him, you unlock the God within you. That’s the key to the quote, unquote, “God-like.”
You've had many mentions in Creative Loafing Newspaper. How does that make you feel that you are a media favorite? How does it make you feel that as far as artist and news goes, all roads lead back to you?
I swear it doesn't feel that way. I don’t buy into my own hype. I feel like you really have to talk yourself down off a pedestal. Believe it or not, as thick as my resume is, I’m still trying to get where I want to go. I haven’t arrived yet. We are all still fighting.
“Buzz City” was a pretty dope track… In my opinion, it should be Charlotte's signature song. What would it take for even the Hornets to say, yeah, we want that?
You gotta get it out there. You gotta get the DJ’s to believe in it. You gotta get that thing rolling. There are a lot of ways to do it. There really isn't a magical formula for that. You gotta have promotions and production.
You recently hosted an event about a month ago with regards to “Police Brutality.” What changes have you seen and in what ways can you evoke positive change in the communities?
The biggest change that I've seen, that I like , is that people are more proactive and more awake now than they've ever been. You gotta understand, this is a marathon. It’s not a sprint. It took us 4 or 500 years to get into this mess, it’s not going to be solved overnight. It’s not a black thing or a white thing, it’s a class thing.
Bump everything that I said in this interview. If you take anything from this interview, let it be this: Basically, there is a war on class that they disguised as a race war. Black folks and poor white people are in the same demographics.
If you’re in the upper one and ten percent, the others are looking at us like we are all the same people, and we are just in the way. You gotta keep us where we are so that you can remain where you are. As long as we are bickering among ourselves and not paying attention to the bigger picture, they are good, and we are self-imploding. We just gotta wake up and see the bigger picture.
When did you establish INKifield INC. Scholarship fund and when did you get partnership with ImaginOn?
The scholarship fund is still being developed. I was able to get the partnership with ImaginOn because I was a full-time actor with the Children’s Theater of Charlotte. ImaginOn is the house that holds the children’s theater and the children’s library of Charlotte.
They invited me in to do some hip-hop based educational programming, and the history of hip-hop. We partnered with ZULU Nation. We actually helped to broker the first marketing relationship between Power 98 and the children’s theater of Charlotte because they weren't doing any promotions and things like that. So, having the hip-hop guy around, helped with that.
What more can we expect from you?
To be honest, I think that I’m always on the prowl of, " What can I tackle next?" I've conquered my biggest hip-hop mix tape to-date. I think the next thing will be film, and then another mix-tape next year. I'm doing fashion as well. We have a "Starving Artist Brand" that’s separate. My girl Kristy Perry, she has “Uppity Apparel.” It's her thing. But, I help market it. You can look it up on Facebook or @Ifitthedescription on Instagram. Go on Masonparkerofficial.com and order a shirt.
Helpful Tips from Parker: You don’t need a manager as much as you think you do. You only need a manager when have something to manage. A guy from the industry told me that you don’t need a manager until your brand is making at least three-thousand per month.
At that point, you’re doing it full-time. If you make enough to make a living, then you need Public Relations and Branding Management.
If you understand all the compartments of what running a label consists of as well as a budget, you can have your own operations. You can square up everything that you need on your own.
If you'd like to book Mason Parker:
Tangi Davis/ I'MERGE Public Relations at Imerge1@aol.com
Mason Parker @ Facebook
Mason Parker @ Instagram
Listen to God King on Spotify and Apple iTunes. Be sure to click the like button on Spotify. Let us know what you think about the track: