Producer, boss woman, and now podcast host, Meashel Mason has expanded her career with a number of different roles. I recently had the opportunity to catch up with her discussing her latest involvement with podcast U-God RAW.
The crew features core Wu-Tang member, U-God, his dedicated manager Domingo, and Meashel. Discussing a variety of cross-generational topics, the podcast covers music, culture, and everything in between. Known for giving it to you raw, the podcast focuses on U-God’s often unfiltered perspective on their conversations. A podcast that plays host to both crucial discussion and hilarious anecdotes, we delve into conversation with Meashel to further discuss the dynamic and wisdom that comes with being involved as a host on U-God RAW.
To begin can you tell me a bit about your current work with U-God and your new podcast RAW? How did you get involved?
Yeah so the podcast itself is very fun, it’s very raw… it’s very much whatever is on U-God’s mind he says. So it’s a very hip-hop based podcast, but we definitely talk about real life issues as well. We make sure we want to touch on that. Especially with everything going on now in the world between COVID and social justice, we’re trying to make sure that we cover every topic that is important to our listeners and the demographic right now.
But working with U-God is so much fun, because he is literally the ‘what you see is what you get.’ He has a very awesome and amazing heart, that he will definitely let you know how he feels and what he thinks on the topic. Sometimes the things that he says… it’s funny, it’s just like, “why did you just say that? It’s crazy that you said that. It’s crazy because I was thinking about it, but wouldn’t say it.” Because for me I’m totally different. I’ll keep my thoughts to myself because for me it sounds crazy, in contrast to him it’s like, “I don’t care, I’m gonna say it because that’s how I feel.”
That’s interesting because when I was listening to a few episodes I was very curious about that dynamic. It seems like you’re the one who is sort of navigating the direction of the conversations. How do you go about deciding the themes you cover in RAW?
So for each show we always want to go in with something different. For instance, we had this one segment called Storytime, and we really loved that segment because we want to utilize that as a space for U-God to talk about what he’s been through in his life which has been a lot. In the segment he can just tell a story about his experience. One thing we love about him is his way of telling stories and recounting his experience. How I come about the topics… I kind of look around the basis of what’s going on in entertainment and in music.
I use those topics to kind of build off of. So say for instance we have What’s Trending, we talk about what’s going on in the tabloids pretty much. But for Storytime I like to use that time to kind of give U-God a space to open up a little more. One of the episodes for instance, we talked about what happened with Jada Pinkett Smith and August Alsina. I wanted to get his mind bubbling about what he thought about open relationships… or if you’re in a marriage and a situation like that happens, you know and the person on the outside ends up telling the world about what happened with you guys. Like how do you manage that?
Or for example the episode last week… you know a lot is going on with mental health with a lot of celebrities so I wanted to use what was going on with Kanye West and the situation with Nick Cannon and talk about how mental health is so important. In this industry specifically, celebrities are just people like us, and I feel like as viewers or fans we can be so harsh. We don’t even know what they’re going through, and how our negative energy or negative comments can affect them to a point where they’re mental health is kind of endangered.
So I wanted to use those kinds of topics to bring in that side of U-God where he can talk about it. He said in last week’s episode, that he experienced at a point of time in his life where he had to go see a psychiatrist because he had suffered from depression, anxiety, and PTSD. So I try to use topics that are pretty heavy, sometimes light as well, but something that can get the listener to tune in and see various sides of U-God, Domingo, and myself.
Now speaking on everyone on U-God RAW. How did all of you become involved in this project?
It’s so funny, I actually used to work at Sirius XM on live radio as a producer. So one of the owner’s of the podcast was looking for a producer. One of my friends at Sirius XM had recommended me to interview for it, and I only interviewed for the producer. The next time I met with them, I would have to sit down with U-God and Domingo to talk about the show and see if they kind of liked me. From that meeting it just clicked, the owners liked my voice and that I was younger and was a woman. They thought I brought a different perspective from U-God and Domingo who are older males, so they suggested if I would be interested in co-hosting. And I thought, “Sure!”
I mean I’ve done a bit of on-air stuff. At Sirius XM I would do an entertainment segment all by myself that I hosted. So I thought, “I’ve hosted before, so we’ll try it out to see how all of our personalities balance out.” The first time that we sat down at a table to do a pilot show run of the podcast, it definitely clicked.Our personalities are just so different. U-God is sort of the blunt one, Domingo is the one that will sort of put a little spice on a comment or story, and I’m just the more reserved one and bring a different perspective as a woman.
How would you compare this to your other on-air experiences?
This experience is different because when I was at Sirius XM that was just kind of reporting the news. Not really giving so much of my opinion but traditionally keeping towards the norms of this is what happened, these are the details. Whereas here on the podcast I am still doing that, but this time I get to voice my opinions on it. Which I actually love more because I always wanted to say how I feel about a certain topic. That’s what I find differs from the two. I enjoy doing the podcast a lot because I can express myself.
It’s evident in the podcast that you bring younger ideas, in contrast to U-God’s older perspectives. How does this dichotomy play out on the show?
It actually plays out pretty well honestly. U-God is very open to talk about anything, so it’s actually interesting having that dichotomy of old versus new. For him, he’s very old school, and the way he operates is very old school. However, I’m trying to show him that the world is so much different now than what it was when he was my age or younger. He’s more open to it and he’s able to kind of see where my generation is coming from and how we operate. He has his comments and opinions on whether we should do certain things.
One thing he can’t stand is how free and open we are about our business. He’s still kind of like we should be more reclusive and keep things to ourselves. Our generation is very much social media, let’s just tell the world what we’re doing constantly. I tried to get him to see that sometimes in doing that, you don’t know how you’re affecting someone else in a positive way. For example, someone may be going through a similar experience as you. We’re more open to the idea of helping someone else that we don’t even know what they’re doing. The fact that he’s more open to it now is pretty awesome to me, but he still has his comments on whether we should do that or not.
You have your career background in ESPN and Sirius XM, how do you feel those roles prepared you for this project?
It’s really crazy… I don’t know who said it, I believe Jamie Fox, but he said basically that you never know how jobs in your past all come together to the job you are doing now. It’s something that I find to be really true because every single role that I’ve had has led me to this point.
Working at Sirius XM I was producing, but I was also speaking on that entertainment segment I was telling you about. That got me comfortable being on air sharing topics of what’s going on in America. ESPN allowed me to have back and forth conversations with some of the hosts, even though I was a producer there too. I was able to still hop on air, talk to callers, talk to interviewed guests, and have that level of engagement. That gave me the skill of keeping a conversation going for a radio show or podcast.
Before all of this I was actually producing at a podcast company, where all we did was produce different podcasts. That gave me the skill level of actually learning how to run a podcast, because I’ve always been an avid listener. I thought you would just come into a room and start talking but there’s so much administrative work behind it which taught me the importance of a producer’s role. Coming up with the ideas, coming up with the topics, making sure that it’s organized. Making sure we’re not rambling or going off on a tangent. All of those jobs that I’ve had led me to this point, and I see myself utilizing all those experiences in this role of being on the podcast.
Lastly, what advice do you have for anyone wanting to pursue a career in this industry?
My advice mainly is that as far as being a woman; not that the industry is hard for women, but it is a male dominated industry. You really have to set your ground and set your foot in this business. For example, someone that’s like me, I’m very nice so it’s easy to get taken advantage of. Be firm in what you want and do not want, what you stand for and what you do not stand for. People will tell you how you should be, and if you want to be your true and authentic self just stand your ground. Someone will believe in what you already stand for.
I also say definitely keep good people in your corner. When I first started in this business, I had close friends and some fell off over the years. I kept the people in my corner that needed to be in my corner, because they were the ones who supported me. Those kinds of people will tell you the truth and tell you when you’re right or wrong. They’ll tell you when you messed up or did something awesome. You want to have that constructive criticism and have that genuine love from the people in your corner.
I also think it’s critical to be true to yourself. It’s so easy to kind of get distracted in this business, and be someone that you’re not or be inauthentic to your beliefs. If you believe in something let it be known. Especially on this podcast RAW they [U-God and Domingo] say comments where I think, “I don’t really believe in that.” I’m going to voice my opinion, because if I don’t it’s going to be assumed by the listener that I believe that way too. I want to be true and authentic to myself so that’s some good advice I would give as well.