Austin Mahone traces a line from the pop, R&B and hip-hop music fans already know him for directly to his country roots in "Kuntry," a twangy track that underscores his Texas upbringing.

"It's that bridge to show that I'm coming from one place to another," Mahone tells Taste of Country about the song, adding that he wanted to showcase his roots in the genre while still delivering an authentic portrayal of all his diverse influences and stylistic leanings.

"I'm not trying to slide on some Wranglers and throw on a 10-gallon hat and be like, 'I'm country now,'" he explains. "I'm from San Antonio, Texas. I grew up [loving country music], and it's nice to tap back into where I came from and do it my own way."

The music video for "Kuntry" doubles down on Mahone's connection to his home state. Wearing a fringed, Nudie suit-inspired jacket that reads "Texas" across the back, the singer brings viewers down to Houston, Texas, where his dad's side of the family lives. The clip is a turbo-charged, colorful backwoods party, featuring a collection of tricked-out lifted trucks that are owned by the singer's personal family members and friends.

"Everyone has their thing when they go mudding -- they like to ride ATVs, or they build up some Jeeps," Mahone explains. "Well, my family, they like those massive monster trucks. So they have a whole squad of four, five, six of them. Everyone's got a monster truck, and every year they'll come back and the truck's built up just a little bit better.

"That's what they like to do for fun," the singer goes on to say. "I felt like, what better way to create something real then to share what they like to do for fun, and show support?"

The shoot was a throwback to Mahone's childhood, showcasing the things he likes to do with family and friends. Other scenes in the music video show Mahone chowing down at the Texas fast food chain Whataburger, hanging out at a lake, playing with a toddler who's rolling his toy truck up a driveway and playing his guitar indoors.

"I wanted to really showcase their type of lifestyle and the things they like to do in their downtime. That's stuff I grew up doing as a young man, and to be able to go back to Houston and go mudding ... it just meant so much," the singer continues.

Mahone says he'll continue to showcase his particular brand of country on Lone Star Story, a new body of work that he recorded in Nashville with producer Jim Jonsin. Jonsin, a relatively recent Florida transplant now based in Nashville, has worked with artists like Lil Wayne, Nelly, Beyoncé, T.I. and Usher. He also has country connections: He worked on Carrie Underwood's Cry Pretty album and has also produced Yelawolf.


As he draws from diverse influences, Mahone says Lone Star Story finds him focusing on carving out his own path, with his Texas roots as his north star.

"There's no track called [Lone Star Story]. I felt like the whole project needed a name on its own," he relates. "I was born in Texas, San Antonio, and everything, every step from that day forward, to me, is the Lone Star story.

"I grew up through country music. That was all I knew until I was 15 years old. And then I was like, 'I need something fresh,'" Mahone continues. He began listening to artists like T-Pain, Usher and Lil Wayne, and wound up signing a deal with Cash Money Records, a label whose roster included many of his hip-hop icons. While he's made his name in other genres, country was always a major part of Mahone's musical foundation, and Lone Star Story marks a return to those roots -- on the singer's own terms, and informed by all the musical outings that have gotten him to this point.

"I'm re-tapping back into my Texas roots," he explains, "and I just felt like it needed to be known that this is the Lone Star Story."

Lone Star Story is available to pre-save now.

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