How A Kid From Newcastle Went From Rapping On Trains To Doing Shoeys With T-Pain

"They just brought out this new pair of Jordans. But he didn’t know how a shoey worked and he pulled out a whole bottle of patron.”

03 March 2022, 11:52pm

Not many up-and-coming Australian artists can say they’ve caught the attention of someone like T-Pain. In fact, not just caught the attention of, but met, worked, and partied with ‘til the early hours of the morning.

When 22-year-old Newcastle-born rapper, Mason Dane, posted his trappy track “DASH” into T-Pain's discord, hoping the rapper would react to it in his live Twitch stream, he wasn’t expecting the reaction that followed.

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“I was shaking a little bit,” Dane told VICE, “I was like ‘is he gonna like my song?’ Cause he just went on this rant about how all these songs sound the same.”

Dane had about 10 seconds, amongst the hundreds of other young artists trying to get their songs in T-Pain’s ears, to paste his link and get the rappers attention. It worked.

“I want to not like this so bad,” T-pain moaned, his face scrunched as the first few seconds to the song played, “Fuck this is a good song. Fuck this fat motherfucker man. Damn it!”

Dane later uploaded the reaction to TikTok, amassing a million views in the first day. “That caught his attention even more. I’m still in this Twitch chat and we’re talking, and he’s asking all these questions: ‘Would you come to America’?”

When Dane appears on the call with VICE he’s in Atlanta. A sign hangs behind him: “Today is your life. Live it.” It seems fitting for an artist who on a whim heeded the call to go abroad. 

And it’s been a busy few days. Travelling between LA and Atlanta, Dane and his manager, Ziggy, have made stops at T-Pain’s house and at strip clubs. They’ve been drinking, turning up, and meeting other emerging and established artists like Young Cash, Aussie producer Haan (the brain behind Kid Laroi’s “Stay”), and Fresco Trey.

“We came in trying to give T-Pain as much Australian culture as we could,” said Dane, “We were talking about a shoey, because it was my birthday, too. And they just brought out this new pair of Jordans. But he didn’t know how a shoey worked and he pulled out a whole bottle of patron.”

T-pain also began quoting Ciggie Butt Brain, a deep cut from the feral underworld of Australian culture. And when the conversation turned to music , Dane put him onto Aussie artists like emerging rappers DAY1, JC and Manu Crooks.

“In Australia, there’s people that are just on crazy levels. You’ve got A.Girl, who’s breaking barriers for women. She’s so fire and she’s so versatile. There’s Baby Prince, who’s from Brisbane. I think he’s one of the craziest artists in the country.”

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Though he doesn’t say it, Dane joins this list of artists as a talent leading the way for the “baby” music scene of Australia. A tremendous feat for someone who grew up in the not-so-big city of Newcastle, making music from a caravan parked outside his parent’s home. 

Mason Dane at Sydney Central Station / Hein

And though it may seem like Dane hit overnight success, his journey into music was one that began the day he was born.

“My dad always played music, his dad always played music,” said Dane, “When I was a little kid, the first Christmases, I’d get guitar toys. And then when I was 3 years-old I got an actual guitar.”

In high school, Dane would ask his cousin to show him how to make beats  (“They sucked, they were really bad”) and he’d also get his mum to ghost write (“I didn’t know how to write songs.”) But eventually, Dane developed his own writing style.

With the release of his first song, “Don’t Play”,  Dane realised he could actually make his own music. And then a little later on he’d release “DASH”, his magnum opus until this point. While the song doesn’t boast anything incredibly innovative or different to other tracks in the same vicinity – the trappy beat, the sad boy aesthetic, the overtly stylistic video with guys clad in Carhartt and North Face – it’s the one that blew up and the one that got attention. 

Dane puts this down to a Post Malone effect. “I reckon it’s how I look versus how I sound. A lot of the time people are like, ‘that’s you?’” he says, while also mentioning the power of TikTok’s governing, somewhat whirlwind algorithm. 

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“TikTok is a big key. It’s not the only one, but it breaks a lot of artists,” said Dane.

“It’s the only platform where you can make a brand new account, have zero followers, post one TikTok and it can get 20 million views. There’s no other platform like that. It’s perfect for discovery. If you just use it the right way and find your niche, and keep hammering away, they’ll just keep putting you in front of people.”

Though Dane has “DASH” to thank for all his recent success, his latest release, the 7-track EP EP Chasing Home, is where the substance behind his music lies. 

“I was like, ‘Oh people just like hard shit’. So I was putting out hard shit and things just weren’t working out so I was like, ‘maybe let's write a project that’s more sentimental, more special. That has some actual meaning to it’.”

“On ‘DASH’, I’m just like: ‘150 on the dash!’ Like: what does that even mean?”

Chasing Home, is a narrative retelling of Dane’s life growing up in Newcastle: catching the train to Sydney, getting up to no good, making music, having troubles with family and addiction. It’s a slow burn - a soundscape of melodic guitar hidden under electronic production and trap. Throughout, his voice is auto-tuned to the point where T-Pain would be proud. 

Mason Dane on a Train / Hein

Dane quotes “Runaway”, the opening track, as one that encapsulates the energy of the entire release.

“It really tells the whole story up until first moving to Sydney which was late 2019,” said Dane. “You get to hear me talking about my whole upbringing. If you want to get to know who Mason is, that’s the one.”

As Dane looks to the future, and his time in the U.S. comes to an end, he reflects on his journey so far. For him, this entire experience has been surreal. After all, it's only been four months between that fateful day with T-Pain over Twitch and his trip to L.A.

“Most of us grew up listening to T-Pain. Like, at Year 6 school discos, T-Pain was just a part of everyone's childhood, and even the older generation, their high school experiences,” said Dane. “So to be some kid from Newcastle and then be hanging out at his house in Atlanta… It’s very surreal. I’m just super grateful.”

And the next step for Mason Dane?

“A song with T-Pain, a remix of “DASH”. He does a lot of Australian punchlines. It’s really fire and it’s really funny too.”

Follow Julie Fenwick on Twitter and Instagram.

Read more from VICE Australia.

Tagged:

Hip-Hop, Australia, Rap, t-pain, Mason Dane

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