Bronx Native and Hooligan, The Tree Mason releases video for “Bronxghanistan”.
Rappers who come up through the New York City hip hop circuit tend to have two choices when it comes to constructing their image: on one hand, they try to please their core fanbase–who tend to consist of local friends and artists–by sticking to their own unique sound. The downside of this approach is that it may keep the artist trapped in the underground. The second option is to go full out backpack or trendy rapper and hop on every new sound and subject the industry has to offer, a path often associated with sell outs.
Turns out, there’s a third option: meet the Tree Mason. A rarity in today’s rap landscape, the Tree Mason’s range is much wider than the confines of any box you could try to place him in. A Puerto Rican stoner from the Bronx, he’s far from predictable.
The name “Tree Mason” is a play on the notorious Freemason fraternal organization that is generally synonymous with the Illuminati cult.
“Music and my affinity for ‘trees’ is something I do faithfully everyday–like its a religion to me,” the up and coming rapper said of is pseudonym. “I came up with the name when there was a huge buzz that Jay-Z was an alleged devil worshipper who practiced freemasonry and was a member of the Illuminati secret society. Also, Rick Ross had the song with Hov, ‘Free Mason.’ I wanted to get the beat and my high ass wanted to do it over and call it ‘Tree Mason.’ I never actually got around to doing the freestyle but the name stuck with me.”
At 25, the Tree Mason is planning to release his third project, ZipLock on 4/20/2015 (get it?). ZipLock will have features from Al-Doe and Smoke DZA, among others. He recently precursed the upcoming mixtape release with “Bronxghanistan,” a freestyle track laid over the grimey Chiraq beat.
Tree’s music channels his pain, anger, glee, and recklessness into a wave that hits immediately and forcefully, especially on this freestyle. He raps unabated for nearly three minutes, spitting lines about his young and wild antics over a beat that becomes as menacing as he is. It’s entertaining, but nothing unexpected compared to the wordplay and braggadocio on his previous projects. Hopefully ‘ZipLock’ will zone on his story telling capabilities and an ability to express his emotions in more creative ways than his peers.
The Tree Mason plans on releasing material throughout the month of March, leading up to his 4-20 release of Zip-Lock. This promotional run has been dubbed “The March of the Mason,” which will include videos and music from his upcoming project.
While working on his mixtape, the Tree Mason is an ambassador for the clothing line, “Hooligans.” The brand’s first release includes a popular street art t-shirt inspired by New York’s own Keith Haring.
Artists like The Tree Mason are exceptions in the hip hop world. His work ethic and commitment to his vision and artistry are rare, especially at his age. He doesn’t try to lean on hood antics, nor is he hopping on every trend or radio-friendly R&B-hook bandwagon. His authenticity shines through the image he’s created for himself as a true-life representative of the Bronx. His crew is called BBM, which stands for Brothers Before Money–a message of loyalty that resonates with good intention, although it would seem a tricky motto to uphold in the cutthroat music industry. Still, that beam of commitment–to himself, to his friends, and to his entrepreneurial pursuits–shines through in the Tree Mason’s work.
Syed Mikhail Hussain is fan of all things NYC and Hip Hop. Winner of the sperm race back in ’89. He does a weekly basketball podcast. Follow him on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter at @swishthis.