by Shonette Reed
When it comes to music, Christian Hip Hop artist, Erica Mason, did not know that music was something she should pursue until she was encouraged to perform one of her songs by a youth leader. From there, the artist saw the power of her sharing her story and the immensity of her God-given talent.
Since then, the artist has released her singles, “Ain’t Worried” and “No Joke”, as well as her 2016 album, “Pretty ‘N Radical” and her most recent single, “Work It Out”.
Erica Mason was born and raised in Gainesville, Florida-- Williston to be exact. She did not grow up in a church-going family, however, she had a sensitivity to God at an early age. By the age of 8 years old, Erica had given her life to God, but it was by age 15 that God had truly “wrecked [her].” By 15, Erica noticed that she did not necessarily fit in, and like many teens, did things to help her blend in with the crowd.
“I was just different. I had a different swag on me,” Erica shared over the phone, laughing at the memory. “ I had a different attitude; I talked very differently, and I was really smart. And I was in all the classes with the white kids anyway… I was kind of like one of the “white” black girls.”
But in the midst of this, she felt alone.
“I started trying to put on these masks to fit in these peer groups, and I started trying to drink and I started tryna smoke and I started tryna do all the stuff that my friends were doing,” Erica shared. “One day, I remember just going to church-- and I just had a supernatural encounter with God… My relationship with my mom and my dad was not good at all at the time, and I didn’t really have an outlet to really talk about that. I ran to God and, from there, I remember going to school and telling all my friends.”
Based on the Erica they knew, none of her friends believed her at first. But, they saw a change in her and that change eventually allowed her to lead her friends to Christ. For Erica, this is one of the many ways she makes music; taking her life experiences and using them as a tool for ministry.
Music as Ministry
When Erica first heard CHH, it was from a local artist. The style appealed to her, inspiring her to write music of her own. While at a youth event, her youth leader encouraged her to share a piece she had written. Everyone started crying-- it “freaked [her] out” a little.
“I didn’t think it was that good, but everybody else did,” Erica shared. “So, that was the moment that I kind of realized, ‘Oh snap, this is the real deal. Like, I actually got something here.’ And so, I kind of took it from there and went forward.”
This led to Erica not only creating a style of her own, and to experiment with sound, but to truly dig into her life experiences and share that as part of her ministry. Such life experiences have led to her single, “Ain’t Worried”, a song she had written around the time of her college graduation from the University of Florida. The pressure of graduating, moving and finding a job all at once, allowed Erica to see how worrying did very little to change her circumstances. In this, she realized that those things were best left in God’s hands.
These aren’t the only challenges that Erica has faced. During her shows, people often doubt her abilities before she even gets on stage, simply because she's a woman. She addresses this in her song “No Joke”. For Erica, there's an amount of professionalism that goes into her work, and usually, once she's done with a set, the audience can attest to her skill.
“My presentation or stance isn’t just, ‘Alright, let me write this song and get up here and rap it.’ I have rehearsals, I have practiced. I’m really articulate, and I’m very strategic about my songs when I put together sets,” Erica said. “I really take this seriously, because at the end of the day, even though music is a business, my life is ministry… I take that seriously.”
The Evolution of Erica Mason
Erica continues to share herself through her music. While at first believing music to be written for others, she quickly learned that her writing music was a healing process for her. Her 2016 album, “Pretty ‘N Radical” is a testament to that. The album, as she describes it, is the evolution of Erica Mason; it stands for the process of loving who you are.
“That whole process was me finding out who I was and learning how to love myself,” Erica shared. “From silly boys to relationships to musical experiences-- all of this was me evolving into the woman that God created me to be.”
And this bled into Erica loving the woman she had become, even when it came to the parts of herself that she did not necessarily like. This has led her to the mission of not just making a difference in the world with her music, but wanting people to walk away, after hearing her music, loving themselves.
For Erica, writing “out of [her] situation” allows healing, and in that healing it allows listeners to resonate with her audience. Through her journey, Erica has not lost what she refers to as the “why” of why she does what she does. She charges up and comers to do the same; never forget your “why” and always know who you are.