Bay Area Hip Hop is primarily known for the Hyphy Movement; a feel good, club banging genre that entices hyperactivity amongst the homegrown youth and originators in the 90s. Although the movement peaked in the mid-2000s, the San Francisco Bay is producing artists like iAmSu!, Kehlani, G-Eazy who attempt to revive the movement one step at a time. However, this side of the Bay Area is only a glimpse of what happens in its cities.
Story | Nico Blitz
Gun violence. Shootings. These are all aspects of Bay Area livelihood that not many of its artists speak upon, and fall under a genre of social consciousness in Hip Hop. A youngster, born Masson Flowers on March 7, 1996, is a rap prodigy out of Oakland who strives to tell his story at all costs.
Influenced by artists like Lil Wayne, 2Pac, Nas, and The Notorious B.I.G., Flowers felt he could do more than simply attend Oakland High School and become another person in the crowd. He formulated his craft to reflect his ever-changing lifestyle and became Trill Youngin’ Sonnie, one-fifth of the popularizing Bay Area rap group Trill Youngins. Currently he attends Chico State University as a Recording Arts major and continues to write these stories, exemplified in his recent project Life As I Knew It.
The Lunch Table got a chance to talk with the Bay Area prospect to learn more about his life, as he knew it.
Q: What makes a person real?
When you taking care of your business, taking care of your family, then you real in my book. Really somebody that’s taking care of his or her family is real to me. As a man, and especially where I came from.
Q: Let’s say you just started messing with this female. What are red flags that’ll completely turn you off?
Bad breath, and if she ain’t doing anything with herself.
Q: How exactly was Trill Youngins assembled?
We decided to call ourselves Trill Youngins because we wanted to keep it true and real at the same time. LayEmDown and Clear were already doing music. We used to record at the Boys and Girls Club [on High Street], and I used to be in there playing basketball. Then we’d record in the studio at 5:00PM.
One day [LayEmDown and Clear] made a song and told me to get on it for 8 bars. We wound up doing the song and I ended up liking rapping. After that I started doing my own music, and I would come in the studio and record my own songs.
Capolow came next; he was my partner in high school. I heard some of Capolow’s songs and I was like “ouu I’mma do a song with him”. So one day I saw him in the studio and he spit a verse just one time and didn’t mess up.
Mitche came last; he and LayEmDown went to school together at Skyline. Mitche always wanted to sing. LayEm let him sing and Mitche was on the “Post to Be (Remix)”, then we just started fuckin’ with him too.
Q: Is it competitive amongst you guys?
We all push each other. It’s more competitive with Capolow, Clear, and me because we rap. It’s more competitive with Mitche and Layem because they sing. That’s what keeps it fun.
Q: Let’s switch things up. What was your childhood like?
A lot of shit was going on like moving house to house. Basically, I had to do a bunch of shit on my own. My mom had me when she was 15; she had my sister when she was 13. We lived with my grandma, back at my mom’s, my auntie and cousins. It was crazy.
Q: Your dad wasn’t around?
Hell nah. I don’t fuck with that nigga.
Q: You primarily talk about gun violence in your music, especially in your song “Life As I Knew It”. Was there a particular moment in your life that influenced you to write that song?
It’s an everyday ordeal. You gotta protect yourself. I lost a lot of people to gun violence, and I feel like you gotta keep a gun where I’m from. If you ain’t got a gun somebody could try you. People won’t try us in our city cus they know how we get down, but there are a lot of people who don’t like us because of typical shit in Oakland.
I was just reflecting on all of that in my song. A lot of people in my city perceive that image like they’re really with it, but really ain’t.
Q: Have you ever had to protect yourself with a gun?
If it came down to it that wouldn’t be a problem to me. I’mma take care of my business.
Q: Is creating music an outlet for you from this violent reality?
Most definitely. Music keeps a lot of stuff off my mind. Every time I go through something I just write a rap and I’ll be cool. I let out anger like that too.
Q: A lot of Bay Area artists who face similar situations to gun violence choose to create music geared towards the club scene. So why have you chosen the route to “put pain in your music” instead?
I’ve always been that type of rapper, even before when I wasn’t really good at it. BJ, the engineer at the Boys and Girls Club, has a big influence on me to rap about my life. He gave me a lot of motivation to just do it.
When I get to create my music I get to show that I can really rap. That’s one thing I let motherfuckers know is that I can really rap. The fruity type beats, the “I look fly” melody type songs – a lot of the little kids love that stuff; a lot of people don’t take that seriously, so I just want to let them know that I actually can rap.
Q: If you could collaborate with any artist [rappers, singers, etc.] who would it be?
Drake, or some type of pop artist like Justin Bieber.
Q: I actually wouldn’t expect you to say Justin Bieber.
I’m telling you, if you have Justin Bieber you’ll have ALL the hoes.
Q: If rap doesn’t work what’s Plan B?
I’m a businessman. I can’t see myself working for nobody. I’ve never had a job, and I never planned on having one. I hate people telling me what to do. So if it doesn’t work I’m gonna be somewhere in the business; I’m gonna have my own business doing music, own a studio, and working towards owning something.
I feel like running my own business in the music. I don’t even wanna sign; just stay independent.
Q: What future projects can we expect from you and the rest of Trill Youngins?
We got an album dropping real soon that’s called University of Trill, and we might drop a tape before that. I’m dropping a tape called Double Life on Halloween.