The mystery of Masego [Muh-SAY-go], the multi-instrumentalist and smooth “trap house jazz” musician, is one of the most fascinating that the jazz world has witnessed in a while.
The child of two pastoral parents, Masego grew up in a non-denominational Christian home frequently filled with the sounds of Black music like Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin and Cab Calloway. His friends from the hood led him to acquire trap music tastes, the “actual drug-cooking music with the hard-hitting drums,” as he describes it. Thus, the 26-year-old paved his own “trap house jazz” lane: a fusion of the genres, primarily R&B, jazz, and hip-hop, in perfectly smooth harmony. This concept energizes his earlier EP works, The Pink Polo and Loose Thoughts, and illuminates his debut studio album, Lady Lady.
Right on time for February’s season of love, Masego arrives as BET’s Amplified artist of the month, and we rounded up five other lesser-known facts about the 26-year-old jazz sensation:
Born to a Jamaican father, Masego was born in the West Indies territory before moving to Virginia. His father’s work in the U.S. Air Force afforded him several travels, including Virginia at the age of 8.
Known for his way around a saxophone, it was actually the drums that Masego was drawn to first. His puberty years spawned his interest in the saxophone, which he credits to a woman he wanted to impress. “It was less, ‘If I play the sax then she'll marry me,’ [and] more that I wanted to be able to engage in some conversation that I knew she wanted to be a part of,” he shared with GQ.
Led by his mother, Masego was brought to many of his favorite artists by way of the women in his life. He also praises his diverse relationships with women, who he believes fosters his growth as a man.
“I have a different sort of relationship with the women in my life than the men,” he says. “...a woman who’s real will bare all and that really grows you. A father will definitely be more impactful, but there’s something about women, there is a different growth within you."
Real name Micah Davis, Masego came across the stage name Masego after exploring his family’s diasporic roots in South Africa. Despite the difference in pronunciation from the name's original form (Ma-sep-oh), he learned that it meant “blessing” and “prosperity.” It also aligned perfectly with his church nickname, “blessing.”
In one of his most oddly memorable moments while performing overseas, Masego recalls being bit on the leg by a fan. He hasn’t elaborated much on the matter, but enjoys authentic interactions with people from all walks of life. “Once at a show in Seoul, someone bit my leg,” he told GQ. “These people are real. They don’t try and keep everything in. When I meet someone who is really OK with saying, ‘I’m tired’ or ‘I’m upset’ or ‘I’m mad’, that’s cool, being and embracing those emotions."
(Photo: Marcus Ingram/Getty Images)