Erica Ma­son is the epit­ome of 'Pretty N Rad­i­cal'

is the epit­ome of 'Prey N Rad­i­cal'

South Florida Times - - FRONT PAGE - By ISHEKA N. HARRISON ihar­ri­[email protected]

GAINSVILLE, Fla. – Erica Ma­son never felt like she fit in, but that’s prob­a­bly be­cause she was cre­ated to stand out. And ever since the 24-year-old ‘fem­cee’ em­braced that no­tion, she’s been us­ing her mi­cro­phone to in­spire oth­ers to cel­e­brate what makes them unique.

It’s a move­ment she has la­beled “Pretty N Rad­i­cal” (PNR), which means “To love who God made you and how God made you. It means to be pretty from within.” Ma­son said God gave her the move­ment while she was in col­lege at Uni­ver­sity of Florida (UF) try­ing to fig­ure out who she was.

“I was a peo­ple pleaser. I grew up pretty in­se­cure about the way I dressed, the way I looked, be­cause I didn’t fit in with any of my peers. I al­ways stood out so I had to learn very early to ac­cept my­self be­cause no­body else would,” Ma­son said re­veal­ing she even­tu­ally re­al­ized God’s love and ac­cep­tance proved enough.

FIND­ING HER PUR­POSE Orig­i­nally from Gainesville, Florida, Ma­son is as beau­ti­ful as she is tal­ented and the char­ac­ter­is­tic runs more than skin deep. She ex­udes an authen­tic love for God and peo­ple that comes through in her music and be­hav­ior.

In an ex­clu­sive phone in­ter­view with the South Florida Times, Ma­son cleared up any mis­con­cep­tion that she be­came a rap­per be­cause she wants money and fame.

In fact, Ma­son said ini­tially she had dreams of play­ing in the WNBA and do­ing phys­i­cal ther­apy. She never planned to pur­sue a ca­reer in music; but her faith in Je­sus Christ and de­sire to help oth­ers by shar­ing her story led her down this path.

“It al­ways goes back to the mo­tive of why you’re do­ing what you’re do­ing. I never got into music be­cause I thought I was gonna make money and I never got into music just to be an artist. I un­der­stand that I’m an in­flu­encer and music is just kind of an ac­ces­sory,” Ma­son said.

Ma­son said she was a 15-year-old who loved R&B when she got saved and thought the music could be­come a prob­lem. So she be­gan look­ing for more whole­some music to lis­ten to and that’s when she hap­pened upon Chris­tian Hip Hop (CHH).

“When I heard Chris­tian Hip Hop and I was like ‘Whoa, I didn’t know that they ac­tu­ally did this whole thing. I didn’t know you could rap about God,’” Ma­son said.

Af­ter hear­ing rap­per T-Bone’s verse on the movie “Fight­ing Temp­ta­tions” and re­al­iz­ing she could “spit the fast part,” Ma­son de­cided to write her own song.

She showed it to her pas­tors who con­vinced her she should per­form it at church. Af­ter see­ing how peo­ple re­sponded to it, Ma­son said she re­al­ized she had a gift. The rest is ‘His (God’s) Story.’

Ma­son be­gan build­ing a buzz per­form­ing at events across her col­lege cam­pus (Uni­ver­sity of Florida) and work­ing with her man­ager Will Thomas, who she said helped de­velop her sound and vi­su­als. When she re­leased her first of­fi­cial sin­gle, “Closer to You,” it ended up in over 50 coun­tries.

To­day, she has quite an ex­ten­sive cat­a­log of music, has re­ceived sev­eral awards, per­forms at sold out shows and gets men­tioned among some of CHH’s most prom­i­nent women rap­pers. She cred­its God’s plan, hard work and be­ing con­sis­tent with her ris­ing suc­cess.

MUSIC RE­FLECTS RE­AL­ITY Ma­son, who is known for shar­ing her ex­pe­ri­ences, said she does so to en­cour­age peo­ple to rise above their mis­takes be­cause no one is per­fect –in­clud­ing her

“When it came to my story, I would hear peo­ple all the time tell me about how they were ei­ther sui­ci­dal or they were de­pressed or they were just deal­ing with some­thing that was ex­tremely dif­fi­cult and how my music helped them over­come,” Ma­son said. “They would say things to me like I don’t know how you do it. It just seems like you have it all to­gether or I wish that I could be just like you and just over­come ev­ery­thing and … and I felt like it was im­por­tant for peo­ple to un­der­stand how peo­ple per­ceive me is not al­ways the case. I’m still a hu­man be­ing. I still go through strug­gles, I still have is­sues.” She said her music re­flects real life. “It’s very im­por­tant to be open and trans­par­ent about what I had to over­come. Some­times I feel like when you’re not trans­par­ent you give peo­ple the idea that you are a su­per­hero and you don’t go through things and it’s hard for peo­ple to re­late to you,” Ma­son said. “What I talk about in my music is le­git­i­mate. It’s real life. I’m not just say­ing these things be­cause it sounds cool. I want to in­flu­ence peo­ple to un­der­stand re­gard­less of what strug­gles you have dealt with, there is a way to grow and over­come it and you don’t have to be de­fined by the mis­takes you made and your past.” PRETTY N RAD­I­CAL MOVE­MENT GROWS In ad­di­tion to God’s guid­ance, Ma­son be­lieves her trans­parency is one of the rea­sons the PNR move­ment keeps gain­ing more trac­tion. PNR has made its way to women and girls con­fer­ences and many other events. It has its own fash­ion line and Ma­son said men are even em­brac­ing the move­ment.

“I be­lieve we’re al­ways learn­ing things about our­selves and re­dis­cov­er­ing who we are, but I think the big­gest thing is to learn to be com­fort­able with who God made you to be and don’t apol­o­gize for that,” Ma­son said. “I have guys, even in Africa, that’s like hash­tag pretty and rad­i­cal all day and they’re con­fi­dent; manly men who are like ‘I don’t care; I rep pretty and rad­i­cal all day be­cause I want my sis­ter to be pretty and rad­i­cal. I want my daugh­ter to be pretty and rad­i­cal and I want ev­ery woman that’s in my life to

love her­self and to know her­self.” Ma­son said her over­all goal is to use her plat­form to raise up and sup­port other artists. “Ul­ti­mately I don’t want to be on the stage. When­ever I can move be­hind the scenes and I can cre­ate a plat­form for artists who are con­sid­ered the un­der­dog or highly not likely to be ap­peal­ing to work with – specif­i­cally for fe­males so they can thrive in the in­dus­try and a lot of times for Chris­tians there aren’t a lot of re­sources – if I can get them to the top and pro­vide re­sources and de­vel­op­ment so they can thrive, I feel like that’s re­ally what I’m sup­posed to be do­ing,” Ma­son said. She ac­knowl­edged it is not a feat she can ac­com­plish alone and there are many who help her along the jour­ney. “Pretty N Rad­i­cal is a lot big­ger than me and that’s the thing I al­ways keep in mind. I can’t take all the credit. I have a whole team of peo­ple who God has sent that be­lieve in what the move­ment stands for and they’re sold out for it,” Ma­son said. “My big­gest in­flu- encers are my sis­ter (Sherise Har­den), she’s like my su­per­hero in a sense; my par­ents (Har­vey and Deb­o­rah Ma­son) as well my com­mu­nity, my pas­tors (Ken­neth and Ta­batha Clay­tor of Alive Church) and my friends who sup­port me and they be­lieve in Pretty N Rad­i­cal more than I do at times.”

She also said her great­est work is to con­tinue im­pact­ing lives for Je­sus Christ, re­call­ing how a mother of 10 told her she was in the mid­dle of writ­ing her sui­cide note when she came across Ma­son’s song “Love Let­ter” on YouTube and it changed her life.

“That right there was so big to me be­cause it was a re­minder that even if I’m never to be more suc­cess­ful than I am right now, this was enough for me,” Ma­son said. “To love your­self is re­ally to know your­self. Even if you don’t lis­ten to my music, learn to know who you are so that you can gen­uinely love who God made you to be.”

To fol­low Ma­son and the PNR move­ment, visit eri­ca­ma­son­mu­sic.com and sign up for her mail­ing list, fol­low her on so­cial me­dia at @eri­ca­ma­son­mu­sic or text 352-480-0183.

PHO­TOS COUR­TESY OF ERICA MA­SON

Erica Ma­son out and about with a pos­i­tive mes­sage.

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