The place where you grow up can affect what happens as you evolve as a person. ShooterGang Kony, a young rapper from Sacramento, wouldn't have taken rap seriously if his peers didn't respect his talent, both inside of juvenile hall and back on his block.

Kony started rapping while behind bars in 2014, and started dropping songs on SoundCloud in 2016 once he was free. Alongside his friend ShooterGang JoJo, Kony began to make a name for himself locally with music. The rising rapper temporarily quit, then fully jumped into music after JoJo got locked up himself. Then an 18-year-old artist with a dream, Kony was married to rap.

In 2018, he dropped "Location on the Flyer," the first song that got him some real buzz, with "Skoompin'" being the song that got him established. He has also collaborated with a litany of Bay Area and Sacramento artists, from SOB x RBE to Mozzy (who is also from his neighborhood) to his friend Nef The Pharaoh.

Already 10 projects deep at just 21 years old, Kony dropped his most recent album, Red Paint Reverend, at the end of February. The 14-track effort features the contemplative track “A Sinner’s Story,” and features from Nef, Mozzy and OMB Peezy. Kony has gotten this far by being honest in his music, not hesitating to share both the pain and triumph of growing up in a rough neighborhood and hustling to survive. Being real takes you far.

Catch up with Kony in this week's The Break.

Age: 21

Hometown: Sacramento

I grew up listening to: "Lil Wayne, 50 Cent, Tupac, Biggie, A Tribe Called Quest, Eminem. Anita Baker. Wayne goes a long way with the way he raps. I feel like his lyricism hella good and I be wishin' rap was like that, where you actually get noticed for your talent. He one of them rappers where lyrics matter and that's what I care about."

My style’s been compared to: "They compare me to Mozzy, but I know it's ’cause we from the same neighborhood. And a little bit of SOB x RBE, but that's because of the bouncy flow. But when it really come to it, anybody that listen to me, especially my homies, they be like 'You so tight ’cause you really got yo own style.' I could show you hella different types of sounds to where it's not the same rapper. And I still got hella shit. I'm not the type that my whole tape's gon' sound exactly the same."

I’m going to blow up because: "I don't know, and thats what's tight. I never knew I was gon' get this far. I still sit at home and be like, 'Damn, what I'm supposed to do next? I'm about to fall off.' I be thinking crazy shit like that ’cause thats what it is. It's real. This shit a gamble, lottery ticket. With the NBA, if you go to college, you hella raw, you don't make it to the league, you gotta get a 9-to-5. It's either this, or there ain't no 9-to-5 for me. It's go hard or go home."

What’s your most slept-on song, and why?  "'My Demon My Angel' or 'Crooked Smile' are my most slept-on songs, fasho. They just came out at the wrong time so they didn’t touch everybody ears like this new music. I should re-release ’em for real."

My standout records to date have been: "'Skoompin',' 'Charlie,' 'Location on the Flyer,' 'A Sinner's Story,' 'Jungle.' These is workin for me because it's what they hearing. They gon' fuck with anything they hear, it just gotta get forced into they head. They dropped before the tape. You had to listen to ’em. If you don't know me, you'll prolly hear it out, eventually everything gon' be stuck. I'm not tryna be no one-hit wonder. I'm gonna be a rapper where you listen to the whole album, every time."

My standout moments to date have been: "Performing at my first sold-out show [in Reno, Nevada], where it's my show. That's a turning point for me ’cause when you look at the crowd, and see them singing all your words, it give you a whole different type of drive. I go home and be like, 'Damn, what song am I gonna make next?' ’Cause these muthafuckas like this one.' That was my biggest wake-up call."

Most people don’t know: "I'm full African. I'm a cool-ass dude, you just gotta talk to me. They prolly think I'm just hella aggressive, or they might think I'm soft, I dunno. I love anime, they don't expect that. And video games. I watch all type of shit, My Hero Academia, Full Metal Alchemist, Attack on Titan, Demon Slayer."

I’m going to be the next: The only real big thing in rap. Real authentic, that you could come talk to, shake my hand. I'll really give you advice ’cause I really don't be believing this rap shit nowadays. I'm a real rapper, no skits, no publicity stunts.

Follow ShooterGang Kony on Instagram and SoundCloud.


"Location on the Flyer"


"A Sinner's Story"

Red Paint Reverend

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