Screwston, Texas

Ask A Rapper: Jett I Masstyr, or hasHBrown, or What's His Name, on Rap Nomenclature and Phonetics

The hip-hop world is a less than sensible place - lots of times, you're even required to clarify when bad means bad and when bad means good - so once a week we're going to get with a rapper and ask them to explain things. Have something you always wanted to ask a rapper? Email it to [email protected].

Jett I Masstyr is a producer. hasHBrown is a rapper. Ryan Rayford is a human. Only, they're all the same person. Confused? Don't worry about it. We thought it was at least two different people for, like, five weeks.

This Week's Rapper: Jett I Masstyr/ hasHBrown

This Week's Subject(s): Rapper names

Ask A Rapper: Okay, so we suppose we should talk about your names first. We don't imagine that's your legal name, is it?

Jett I Masstyr, "Untitled (Lazy Song)"

Jett I Masstyr, "Untitled (Lazy Song)"

Jett I Masstyr/hasHBrown: No, that is certainly not my legal name. Ryan Lincoln Rayford is what my "mama and 'nem" call me. hasHBrown was a nickname for the high school years that never caught on, so I decided to make it my official rap alias. I love breakfast food; it's my favorite meal of the day. To me there is nothing better than an original grand slam with a side of hash browns.

Dustin Prestige gave me the nickname originally. Jett I Masstyr, my production alias, speaks directly to my love for all things Star Wars. I just spelled it differently because I don't want to beef with George Lucas. George would definitely win any legal battle. His paper and my paper aren't from the same galaxy.

AAR: Why do so many rappers pick such weird names? Like, what is a "Gucci Mane" or a "Vanilla Ice" or a "Biggie Smalls" or an "Ice Cube"? Those all sound like food too.

Jett I Masstyr, "Sweetest Revenge"

Jett I Masstyr, "Sweetest Revenge"

JI/HB: I don't think we sit back a try to come up with the most off-the-wall name possible. First, a rapper's name must speak to the rapper's character/personality, have some personal meaning to the rapper, or represent a brand that the rapper is trying to promote or convey through their music. Some rapper's names represent the actual person rapping; sort of like Bruce Wayne and Batman. Which one is the actual identity of the man behind the mask?

Other rap names out there don't leave anything to the imagination. For example, Lil' Wayne's name is Dewayne and he's a small dude in stature. At the end of the day, your music speaks more volumes about who you are as a rapper than your actual name. Who would've thought a Ghostface Killah would drop an album about relationships, love and sex this year? You can't judge a book by its cover and you can't judge a rapper by his/her rap name.

AAR: Is it weird the first few times you introduce yourself by your rap name? Feels like it should be. We're saying, can you just walk into a room full of your friends that normally call you Ryan and be like, "Yo, from now on call me Meaty Frank. That's my rap name."

Jett I Masstyr, "The Baptism Interlude"

Jett I Masstyr, "The Baptism Interlude"

JI/HB: Meaty Frank? Before I answer let's pause that for station identification... Moving on, in the Houston hip hop scene people usually just call me "Hash," which is cool because screaming across the room "Hey, hasHBrowns! What's up man?" just seems awkward and kind of retarded, too. I introduce myself normally as "Hash" or "Jett I" depending on the setting.

That's the great thing about rap names: you can usually shorten them when applicable. But if you ever decide to pick up the mic please DO NOT have people calling you "Meaty Frank" unless your name is Frank and your girlfriend/wife calls you that for reasons you wouldn't normally discuss openly.

AAR: Why do phonetics play such a big role in the rapper lexicon? You all do know that that's mostly more confusing than anything, right?

Jett I Masstyr, "The Hook"

Jett I Masstyr, "The Hook"

JI/HB: Phonetics are very important as a rapper because your words and how you deliver those words are all you have. As rappers, our instrument is our voice with our words. Some rappers use their lexicon to "show-off" their intelligence or their recent purchase of a rhyming dictionary. Some rappers aren't talking about ANYTHING significant, but their delivery/accent/flow give their style an entertaining characteristic that hypnotizes the masses.

Rapping with the intent to confuse or constantly go over your listener's head is backwards; those are called your "Smart-Dumb Rappers." My rap style is very personal, introspective at times, and intense lyrically. I pride myself on rapping everything clearly because I want my audience to understand everything I'm saying. Sounds from the Back Seat won't confuse you, but it might make you think. What's wrong with that?

Follow Jett I Masstyr on Twitter at @jettimasstyr.

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Shea Serrano