Masego Lost a Beat to Chance the Rapper & Learned an Industry Lesson the Hard Way
If you read Wednesday's story about indie rapper Phay watching Chance The Rapper use and release the same “Juke Jam” beat that he'd been writing to for months, you also saw a series of frustrated tweets embedded from DMV buzzmaker Masego. Thanks to the internet, shortly after that original article was posted I connected with Masego and was able to speak to the rising artist an hour before his flight to Vegas.
He explained that his tweets were a gut reaction to hearing “All Night,” the foot-tapping electrified dance number produced by Kaytranada: “I was listening to Coloring Book like everyone else was. Soon as that track hit—there’s certain music where in one second you know exactly what song it is. It was like a movie. I threw my headphones off and I was like, 'Noooo!!!' It was like someone shot me in my chest.”
Woahhhh. My heart just broke. A beat I wrote a song over is on Chance's tape.— Maségo (@UncleSego) May 13, 2016
I feel like my song died!!! Dag this hurts— Maségo (@UncleSego) May 13, 2016
GAHHHHH Come on music industry!!!— Maségo (@UncleSego) May 13, 2016
This is extremely painful. That beat shaped my album now I don't know what to do— Maségo (@UncleSego) May 13, 2016
For those familiar with Masego’s music, it makes perfect sense that “All Night” was the record. He’s a saxophonist that’s able to play an array of instruments ranging from drums to the trombone who also sings, raps and produces. The music he makes teeters in a world of sounds that aren’t restricted to any one genre. He has a project, TrapHouseJazz, that isn’t just a cute name but actually takes all three genres and merges them like a musical Voltron. “All Night” is a house record that’s drenched with instrumentation, the kind of sounds he would naturally gravitate toward.
He told me how acquiring the beat came about. “I reached out to Kaytranada. Told him I respected his work and would love to work in the future. He replied with a hey man, here's a batch of beats. I was like, oh snap, I’m in the Illuminati! [laughs]. I’m a young boy in this industry, I don’t know what a batch of beats is. So I get this folder and I’m thinking, if I sent someone a batch of beats that I wanted to work with, I made those beats specially with them in mind. That’s what I thought was happening.”
So I get the batch and that song, I immediately started writing something to it. That’s what starts me creating my whole album. The song was called “New City” and my album is supposed to be called Masego’s Not On Tour. It was following me around this whole “I’m not famous but I’m kind of famous” part of my life right now. It was shaping the entire theme.
He made a demo and sent it to Kaytranada who replied with nothing but praise, fire emojis, and a promise to send a better quality version of the beat. Masego then continued to work on his album without thinking much more of it. That would be the last time Masego would hear about it until Chance’s album.
Unlike Phay, who at least knew months prior that a beat he leased would be on Coloring Book, Masego was completely blindsided. After speaking with the producer, who was apologetic about the mix up, Masego understood that it wasn’t a situation that happened because of ill intent. In many ways, it was a miscommunication and misunderstanding of how beats get passed around. What he saw as “I believe in you beats” weren’t acquired through any exchange of currency or promised ownership.
He explained his mindset to me, “I thought I was the only one. Take The Internet’s 'Girl.' In my mind, they were in the studio together. He catered that beat to them. That’s how I thought everything works. If you want to work with Masego, you would make beats that you think Masego would like. Not here’s a bunch of beats and I’m going to send them to eight people. If that’s how it works - I’m cool with it, I understand it, no shade to Kaytranada. Just ignorance of the industry.”
Talking to Masego it's clear he’s sharp. Instead of harboring hard feelings, he's someone who learns from his mistakes. The mishap has already changed the way Masego is moving while reshaping his album. His studio sessions are more private now and beats are being made from scratch with musicians being brought in to play instruments. He isn’t going to Vegas for fear and loathing but for a studio session. He’s all about control now. Having the files and keeping them close.
He left me with some words of wisdom. “If you receive a beat don’t get too attached to it. Think of it like one of those shows where seven women are trying to win the heart of one man. Don’t take it personal. If you want to get attached to something, make it yourself. Create your own job.”
I never thought of connecting music production and reality shows like The Bachelor or Flava Of Love, but after talking with Masego I’ll never forget it. He didn’t elaborate on his forthcoming album, but I suspect that it will arrive sometime this year.
For those looking to get acquainted with his music, the Pink Polo project is a good start, along with his feature performance on GoldLink’s And After That, We Didn’t Talk. Believe me, this won’t be the last time you hear his name. Hopefully the next time it won't be because of a beat that was acquired by another artist.
By Yoh, aka Yohtranada, aka @Yoh31
Photo Credit: Aaron Dee.