From the outside looking in, Mason “Bric” LaDue's role in the hip-hop industry is not highly visible. He’s not a rapper nor is he a promoter. At different times in his life, he could’ve been both but he has been much more comfortable working behind the scenes. It’s the role he has carved out after spending over a decade networking in the business. But if or when you do notice him, you realize he looks every bit the part of a hip-hop lifer.
Bric's most likely to be found in the back of a venue overseeing a show he’s successfully facilitated or he might be spotted in an Instagram photo of one of your favorite rappers during a studio session or kickback. There will be a couple chains around his neck, he’ll be wearing some fresh new streetwear and he’ll be sporting a diamond grill that would make Paul Wall — one of his close friends — blush. And if that’s not enough to identify him, his right hand bears an eye-catching, meticulously detailed tattoo of a skeleton.
He’s been in the game a long time and while the behind-the-scenes role worked for him in his 20s, Bric is interested in having more than great stories to tell about his time around hip-hop now that he’s 32. This Thursday at The Door, he’ll be throwing an event called Bric’s Block Party featuring rappers Smoke DZA, Chevy Woods and Starlito, as well as a few other surprises and guests. While Bric’s intention for the party is to create a fun atmosphere for everyone in attendance, it’ll also serve as a bit of a coming out party for him. The lineup itself is a testament to the relationships he’s developed throughout his career. Everyone on the bill is a friend of Bric’s; amidst the sea of hangers-on that dominate the hip-hop world, he’s been able to build authentic relationships with most everyone he has come across.
“Rappers travel the world and they see so many different types of people who try hard to be their friends or who are fake for ulterior motives and I was just a genuine fan of these people,” Bric says. “I’m not running up and getting pictures or trying to go backstage. I really developed kindred bonds with these people and they’re really my true friends.”
Bric’s first taste of the music industry was in 2002 when he was living in College Station for school and a good friend introduced him to a young Paul Wall and Slim Thug, who were just a few years away from a meteoric rise that would see them dominate the hip-hop landscape for a bit. Raymond “Ray-Face” Thomas, Thug's older brother, wrote Bric his first rap industry check for selling CDs. Eventually Bric told Wall that he really wanted to pursue hip-hop, so the Houston rapper took Bric on the road and from there he was able to learn the ins and outs of the business.
“I just eased into roles, helping where I could,” Bric says. “It’s more important being true friends to these people, being true homies and just being positive around them.”
A little smarter, a little wiser and back in Dallas, he connected with local rap star Tum Tum of Dirty South Rydaz and solo fame. Tum played a big role in molding Bric into who he is today, basically teaching him the skills of an A&R by having him work with producers finding beats, clearing samples and also appointing him as his road manager handling day-to-day operations. Initially the two bonded over an affinity for smoking weed and wrestling but the partnership grew from there.
“Bric’s a cool guy. He’s a grand hustler,” Tum says. “If I ever needed to get something done for my album or anything, he could get it done. I’m not really a people person but he was always testing the waters with new people and developing relationships.”
Together they made it a priority to make national rappers touring through the city feel at home at a time when Dallas had a bad reputation for hip-hop shows. An alarming number of those shows would either end in fights or with the rappers being threatened. It was difficult for rappers like Tum Tum, Big Tuck and others to network outside the city because of that, so Bric tried to be a facilitator and point of contact for those touring through Dallas. His relationship with Sascha Stone of ScoreMore, a prominent hip-hop booking company, brought him many of the connections he flourishes off of now.
“When they would come to Dallas, they knew to call me and Tum and knew they were gonna be fine,” Bric recalls. “They’d almost circle the date because they knew in Dallas they’re good and you can’t put a price on that.”
It was during these times that he developed close friendships and business relationships with Chevy Woods, Smoke DZA, Starlito, Curren$y, Le$ and Wiz Khalifa early in their careers. The latter of that bunch, Khalifa, who owns and operates Taylor Gang Records, took Bric under his wing and gave him road manager duties and control of various day-to-day operations for some of his artists. In the process, the two developed a close friendship. Khalifa, along with Taylor Gang President Will Dzombak and in-house producer Sledgren, has helped Bric to break out from behind the scenes of hip-hop. In a heart-to-heart with the superstar rapper, Bric expressed his desire to take on a bigger role in the vein of a DJ Khaled, who curates albums and is generally an ambassador of cool.
Bric might be onto something there. This past year, he was one of the first people to lob Post Malone into big things, and it just so happened to take place while he was hanging out at Wiz Khalifa’s house. While cruising Soundcloud, Bric stumbled upon the breakout track “White Iverson,” which at the time had fewer than 1,000 plays on the website. Casually telling Khalifa about the song he’d just heard and been blown away by, Khalifa assumed Bric was just trying to plug one of his local buddies’ work into a DJ set the rapper was about to do. But after hearing it, Khalifa loved the track too and featured it in his set that night.
“Post has worked hard on his own and I wouldn’t dare say I discovered him, but I just put his music in the right ears,” Bric says. “The next day Post and I linked up and the rest is history.”
Much like he’d done with the numerous artists he’d worked with before, Bric was more concerned with establishing a bond with the artist than gaining glory. He says he saw a superstar in Post and wanted to protect that aura, so he played the role of big brother and helped guide Post through the early stages of his instant fame, even getting to know Post’s father and helping to facilitate a hugely successful sold-out homecoming show for the artist at Trees last summer.
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“That was [Post Malone’s] first sold-out show and Bric had the vision for everything,” says Ashlen Diaz, Post Malone’s girlfriend. “Bric is like a dad to me in the music scene and he helps [Post]. He’s an O.G. in the game and he contributes a lot.”
Given the trust he has built with a superstar like Khalifa and his success facilitating Post Malone's career, Bric is confident he can take on even bigger projects. He admits he’s never been into waving his own flag and would rather the work speak for itself but he feels it’s time for people to know what he does.
He says that as he makes moves in his career, he'll have to put a leash on his emotions. He’s extremely opinionated and it has caused him to ruffle some feathers. But often he was just playing the role of the heel, the way wrestlers do. Now it's time to be a diplomat, and Thursday night will be an opportunity to prove he can be a positive influence.
“Being behind the scenes is a different comfort level,” Bric says. “It’s semi-easy, but it will also jade you.”