By Sabrina Singleton
“Hey! You’re the rapper girl!”
This is how Erica Mason is usually addressed while attending classes at the University of Florida (UF). It’s because in addition to being a 3rd year Family Youth and Community Sciences major and campus RA, she raps at events hosted by fraternities, sororities, Christian groups, and nonprofit organizations at UF.
“It’s really fun. I get opportunities to minister to people of all different backgrounds.” Erica gets these opportunities because the rap/pop genre of music is very popular and booking Erica is a free way for UF student organizations to provide entertainment.
In addition to performing at events, Erica is preparing to release her full length original album entitled “Royalty”, whose songs tell a story of a transformation from a life of an insecure girl who doesn’t know her value or worth to an awesome woman of God. The album will have a pop/rap sound with a mixture of fast and slow songs, featuring subjects from her own life experiences and stories inspired from others or the Holy Spirit. Her goal is to release an album that creates a personal connection that young people can relate to and discuss issues that Christians think they are alone in. “You are not the only person that is struggling with something. It’s just that no one else is talking about it.”[pullquote_right]I get to meet a lot of different people and share the same message about Jesus, just in different ways. It shows them that you don’t have to be super religious or stuck up to love Jesus. You can just be yourself. [/pullquote_right]
Becoming a rapper wasn’t Erica’s original plan. She just didn’t want to spend the rest of her life in her hometown of Williston, FL. “I just always wanted something different. I wanted something better.” Erica got saved at 8 and started to develop a relationship with God at 14. She would pray often about her escape: “Man God there’s got to be something. Being saved can’t always be boring. ‘Cause everyone else I know [who is saved] is just boring.”
Erica’s prayers were answered when she got exposed to gospel rap at a youth program she was involved in. She heard a Takobe album and would always listen to it. “One day I was like ‘Uh, I think I can do this. Let me try it’. And I tried it… and it was really easy.”
Erica shared her first rap (using a beat from a J-Holiday song) with her youth leader, who asked her to perform it. When she did, the audience started to cry. “People were just ushered into the presence of God through it.”
What started as an experiment turned out to be a gift from God, so Erica continued to write, rap, and perform. “My music is really changing lives and people have come up to me with tears in their eyes saying ‘Your music is changing my life. Keep doing what you are doing’.” The crowd’s reaction to her performances was like an epiphany. “It just made me say ‘from this point on, I’m going to place my heart in every song I do. I’m going to just stay faithful’.”
Erica believes that with her faithfulness, she can branch out into singing and releasing worship songs influenced by the many genres that she likes to listen to – including rock, pop, and country.[pullquote_left]I always say ‘I’m not a rapper. I’m a rapping worshiper.’ You have to be diverse to meet the multitudes.[/pullquote_left]
For a sneak peak of “Royalty”, check out the single and video “Closer to You” below, which is Erica’s current favorite. It is an expression of her personal prayer closet time with God. “Being closer to God is my heart’s cry every morning… as I get closer to [God], everything else is irreverent.”
In the interim to the full release of “Royalty”, Erica regularly leaks cover songs. She uses the beats as a platform to give a Biblical perspective to the topics that are addressed in popular secular songs. Her goal with each cover is to transform what was once used to deliver a perverted message, into a message that will glorify God and reach and connect teenagers and college students from where they currently are to God. “If they (the secular artists) are working hard like this for the world, who’s going to work hard for God?”
While speaking with Erica, it is evident that she has a firm grasp of the concept of her role as salt of the earth. “Being SALTY means being contagious. People need flavor for their food because without that flavor, it’s disgusting. People need Christians who are salty to show them that life is full of happiness, full of joy, and full of endless opportunities. The best part of having that salty flavor is being able to be contagious because everyone wants it. Everyone just has to have it. When you are really contagious, People will look at you and say ‘I want to be just like you. I don’t know how but I got to have whatever she has.’
And that is truly the definition of SALTY.”