KU’s Frank Mason is blowing up — and so is the rap song he inspired
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Isaac Hayes, it ain’t. But the first 18 seconds of the song "Frank Mason" belong to the sonorous tones of the real Frank Mason, a big ol’ explicit hug, a loving tribute to a loving tribute.
"I recorded everything and he sent me a voice memo of him talking, of him giving me a shout-out," rapper RedHead — real name Derek Minigan — says of the tune, cut in late 2013, posted on YouTube in March 2014 and, thanks to a series of Thursday tweets by national college basketball writers, one of the semi-viral videos of this past week.
"He’s cool with it," Minigan says of Mason, the Kansas sophomore point guard who serves as the inspiration for the song. "Oh, yeah. I don’t think he would’ve sent that if he wasn’t OK with it."
Be warned: the track, while catchy as hell, is NSFW. A word used to describe female dogs is featured at least 49 times, mostly in the chorus:
Other current and former Jayhawks in the lyrics include Wayne Selden, Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid. But our personal favorite might be the reference to KU’s venerated basketball coach:
Feelin’ like Bill Self
With all these bills to myself
"Just having a lot of money," RedHead explains. "Of course, ‘bill,’ like dollar bill. And (Self) has a lot of money."
Minigan’s affections for Mason are genuine; the two grew up together south of Richmond, Va. — Mason in Petersburg, Minigan in rival town Hopewell, some 22 miles northeast.
"You would come to basketball games back home to watch Frank," the rapper recalls. "Frank would put up crazy numbers and he would never be cocky (about) it. And that’s why people respect him more."
The respect is mutual, too. The KU point man attended the first live show RedHead ever put on professionally — nearly three years ago, at a place called Club Rain — and the two have kept in close contact ever since.
"It’s pretty tough to make it and be successful," Minigan says. "It’s not very common where we’re from. So seeing Frank to be one of (those guys) to do that, it’s partly motivation for me."
By day, RedHead says, he’s an Army man, stationed in Tacoma, Wash. His latest single, "West Coast," is a collaboration with Grammy-winning songwriter and singer Eric Bellinger.
"(That) is the song I thought would get the most views — I thought it would be the one to blow up crazy," the rapper says. "I never expected ‘Frank Mason’ (to be taking off) now. I wanted the Frank Mason song to do what it’s doing now when I first released it."
But timing can be a funny, fickle thing in show business; Minigan was just ahead of his time — and ahead of the bandwagon. Over his past six games, five of them KU wins, Mason is averaging 14.5 points and 5.5 assists while draining 11 of 22 3-point attempts and has been the most consistent player on a fairly inconsistent roster.
On Thursday morning, "Frank Mason" had roughly 4,000 views in RedHead’s YouTube channel, "IamRedHeadTV." By late Thursday afternoon, after the song was championed on Twitter by blogger and former Ohio State basketball player Mark Titus, those views more than doubled.
The social media snowball has picked up enough speed that Minigan is thinking about mixing a radio-friendly version.
"I don’t want the kids to have to turn away from listening to it," he says.
When he was a kid, RedHead grew up a North Carolina fan, a disciple of all things Michael Jordan. But he claims Mason has made him a convert to the church of the Rock Chalk Walk. He even hooked up a miniature Kansas basketball hoop on one of the doors at his pad.
"I just want to come to Kansas," Minigan says. "I love Kansas."
He wants to perform. He wants to see Allen Fieldhouse up close, to dance with the ghosts of the Phog. But mostly, he wants to give his old pal, the real Frank Mason, a hug. A couple of cats from Prince George County, busting rhymes and taking names.
"We told each other a while back that we’re going to see each other at the top," RedHead says. "And we’re going to celebrate."