Biography All Music GuideWikipedia
All Music Guide:
Best known as Puff Daddy's favorite sidekick, Mase secured his place as a Bad Boy label favorite through a series of guest appearances on hit singles by other artists. By the time he issued his debut album, the Bad Boy promotional machine had effectively already made him a star. His flow was slow and relaxed, and his raps often unabashedly simple, which helped make him especially popular with the younger segment of Puff Daddy's pop-rap audience (they could understand him and rap along). Of course, he was never much of a critical favorite for exactly the same reason, but that became a moot point when, just before the release of his second album, he announced his retirement from rap to pursue a career in the ministry.
Mase was born Mason Durrell Betha in Jacksonville, FL, on August 27, 1977. His family moved to Harlem when he was five, but at age 13, he was sent back to Florida amid concerns that he was falling in with the wrong crowd. He returned to New York two years later, and began rapping to entertain the other members of his school basketball team. He was a good enough basketball player to win a scholarship to SUNY, but hip-hop soon grew to be more important; under the name Mase Murder, he joined a rap group called Children of the Corn, which disbanded when one of its members died in a car accident. Mase went solo and started making connections around New York's hip-hop club scene. In 1996, he traveled to Atlanta for a music conference, hoping to hook up with Jermaine Dupri; instead, he met Sean "Puffy" Combs, who signed him to Bad Boy after hearing him rap.
Mase debuted on Combs' remix of the 112 single "Only You," and quickly became a near-ubiquitous guest rapper on Bad Boy releases and other Combs-related projects. He was a credited featured guest on the Puff Daddy smashes "Can't Nobody Hold Me Down" and "It's All About the Benjamins," handled the first verse of the Notorious B.I.G.'s number one hit "Mo' Money, Mo' Problems," and made prominent appearances on Mariah Carey's "Honey," Brian McKnight's "You Should Be Mine (Don't Waste My Time)," Junior M.A.F.I.A.'s "Young Casanova," and Busta Rhymes' "The Body Rock," among others. By showcasing Mase in such high-profile settings, not to mention spotlighting him in several videos as well, Combs ensured that by the time Mase actually released his own album, every hip-hop fan in America would already know who he was.
Thus, when Mase's debut album, Harlem World, appeared in late 1997, it was an instant smash, spending its first two weeks of release on top of the Billboard album charts. It was a star-studded affair, naturally featuring Combs (both rapping and producing) and a galaxy of guests: Busta Rhymes, Jay-Z, DMX, Lil' Kim, Monifah, 112, the L.O.X., Eightball & MJG, Black Rob, and Lil' Cease, not to mention additional production by the Hitmen, Jermaine Dupri, and the Neptunes, among others. Reviews of the record were mixed; some critics praised Mase's unique rapping style, but others were far more harsh (this writer is fairly sure it was Ira Robbins who called Mase "the luckiest no-talent sidekick since Ed McMahon"). Nonetheless, Harlem World was a smash hit, eventually going platinum four times over; its first single, "Feels So Good" (which also appeared on the soundtrack of Money Talks), was a Top Five pop hit, and the follow-up "What You Want" was a fast-selling success as well.
In the meantime, Mase's string of guest spots continued unabated, with appearances on Brandy's "Top of the World," Puff Daddy's "Lookin' at Me," Cam'ron's "Horse and Carriage," 112's "Love Me," and the Rugrats soundtrack collaboration with Blackstreet and Mya, "Take Me There." In April 1998, Mase made headlines with his arrest in New York on disorderly conduct charges (he had initially been accused of soliciting a prostitute, which he denied). But the controversy was short-lived, and by year's end Mase had put together his own group of protégés, also dubbed Harlem World, who issued its debut album, The Movement, in early 1999. With Puffy's Bad Boy empire still riding high, Mase's second album, Double Up, looked to be another blockbuster. But shortly after it was completed (and before it was released), Mase stunned close associates and observers alike by announcing his immediate retirement from the music business, calling it incompatible with his new calling to the ministry (he'd experienced a vision of himself leading people into Hell). He refused to promote Double Up with any live performances, although he did give interviews on its behalf. Perhaps it was the lack of promotional support, or perhaps audiences gave up their investment in him, but Double Up made a disappointing chart debut at number 11 upon its summer 1999 release, and only reached gold sales status. Mase worked extensively with inner-city youth, became an in-demand inspirational speaker on the religious circuit, and published a memoir titled Revelations: There's a Light After the Lime. He returned with a new album, Welcome Back, in 2004.
Mason Durell Betha (born August 27, 1975), better known by stage name Mase (formerly Murda Mase) , is an American hip hop recording artist and actor from Harlem, New York City, New York. He was once signed to Sean "Diddy" Combs's label Bad Boy Records. He was introduced as Bad Boy's next big artist during the summer of 1996, when he was featured on the remix to 112's debut single, "Only You", which peaked at number one on Billboard's Hot Dance Singles Sales chart as well as its Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart. With his soon-to-be-trademarked slow flow, Mase quickly developed a crossover fan base as he was featured on original tracks and remixes, by popular R&B artists such as Brian McKnight, Mariah Carey, Keith Sweat and Brandy, among others. Puff Daddy (Diddy), featured Mase on "Mo' Money, Mo' Problems" from The Notorious B.I.G.'s double-disc album Life After Death (1997), the album's biggest hit single. He then featured Mase on several songs from his own debut album, No Way Out (1997): the lead single, "Can't Nobody Hold Me Down", which hit number one on the Rap, R&B, and Pop charts, as well as on "Been Around the World", which would also reach number one on Billboard's Hot Rap Tracks. By the time Mase released his own debut album, Harlem World, in late 1997, the rapper had become Bad Boy's premier artist, filling the void left by the death of B.I.G.. He is married to Twyla Betha and leads an international ministry while still making occasional musical guest appearances.
Early life 
Mase was born Mason Durell Betha in Jacksonville, Florida on August 27, 1975. At age 5, Betha moved with his family to Harlem, New York City however, he returned to Florida when he was 13 due to concerns he was associating himself with the wrong crowds. Betha returned to New York at age 15. Betha was a point guard for the Manhattan Center High School basketball team. In 1993 he performed as "Murder Mase" in a rap group called Children of the Corn which also included successful solo artists Big L and Cam'ron (at the time known as Killa Cam). While attending SUNY Purchase, Mase met hip hop producer Country, was introduced to producer Sean Combs, and dropped out of college to pursue a rap career.
Harlem World 
Mase released his first solo LP, Harlem World, which debuted at #1 on the Billboard Pop and R&B LP charts selling over 270,000 copies in the U.S. its first week of release; it has since gone 4x Platinum in the United States. Mase told MTV about his first solo effort: "Well, basically what I'm trying to establish is a strong identity and foundation for Mase so a lot of people could know that Mase is his own person and Mase can do other things besides rap and music and things in that nature." Entertainment Weekly said of the album: "...creatively refreshing, well-crafted lyrics... rap's newest bad boy more than holds his own on his solo debut... his distinctive marble-mouthed drawl... creates a regular-guy persona all too rare in hip-hop."
The album spawned hits such as "Feel So Good" and "Lookin' At Me" which both reached number one status on the Rap Billboard charts, as well as "What You Want," which peaked at number three on both the Rap and R&B Billboard charts.
Double Up and retirement 
Mase's sophomore effort, Double Up, was released in 1999 and distributed by Bad Boy Records and sold 107,000 copies in its first week, debuting at #11. Though it reached #5 when popular rap music was dominated by Master P and his No-Limit crew. Double Up also featured much more aggressive material. Perhaps no other sign was as clear as a line in the last song of the album, "From Scratch": "If I could do it all again, I'd do it all for Christ."
On April 20, 1999, during an interview with Funkmaster Flex on New York radio station Hot 97, Mase announced his retirement from music to pursue "a calling from God." He felt he was leading people, friends, kids and others down a path to Hell, stating that he left to find God in his heart and follow him. He declared it was time for him to serve God in his way, saying rap was not real and that he wanted to deal with reality, and that he had become unhappy with what he did, no matter how much it paid.
Return to music and subsequent controversy 
After a five-year hiatus from the music industry, Mase made a comeback with "Welcome Back" during the summer of 2004. Prior to the album's release, the rapper was featured on Nelly's "In My Life," as well as the remix to Fat Joe's "Lean Back".
Mase's third album, Welcome Back, released August 24, 2004. The album debuted at #4 on the charts, selling 188,000 copies in the first week; the album would eventually go gold, selling 559,000 copies in the United States. Released after a five-year break from the rap scene, the album was a product of Mase's newly developed Christian persona. Portraying a "cleaner" image during this short-lived return to the industry, Mase dubbed himself "a Bad Boy gone clean," on the lead single, also titled "Welcome Back." This new approach to rap was received with mixed reviews. However, even though the album was not a commercial success like Harlem World, the singles, "Welcome Back" and "Breathe, Stretch, Shake," received moderate radio airplay and video play on BET and MTV, with the latter reaching #28 on the Billboard Hot 100; both singles were also certified gold by the RIAA.
In the mid-2000's Mase spent time touring and recording with G-Unit and became a mainstay in 50 Cent's public image, appearing together on magazine covers, on stage and in music videos. He has since said that working with the group was not something he regrets, but that the message he was sending was a mistake. He joined G-Unit to appeal to a different audience so they could see that they could change just as he did, thinking that "in order to get people where I'm at, I have to go back to where I once was." Under G-Unit, he released a "Crucified 4 The Hood: 10 Years of Hate," a mixtape from the DJ Whoo Kid series, but an official album was never released. According to 50, Diddy refused to let Mase out of his contract with Bad Boy for anything less than $2 million. Uncertain that Mase's album would sell well enough to make up for that type of investment, 50 gave up on trying to bring Mase onto G-Unit.
Second comeback 
Following the formula that worked for him 13 years ago, Mase has begun to appear on popular R&B artists' remixes. In early June, he was featured on the last verse of "Uptown Boy" by Harry O, signed to The Inc., which also features Ron Browz. Weeks later, Mase appeared on a street remix for Drake's "Best I Ever Had." Mase stated that since the death of Michael Jackson it has lit the fire inside him and he is ready to come back. He appeared on Power 105.1 to have a phone conversation with "The Prince of New York" DJ Self to discuss his latest attempt at a comeback. During this interaction, former-friend-turned-rival, Jim Jones, called in to make peace and hinted at the possibility of the two working together in the near future. Mase would then use that very radio show as his outlet to release new music throughout the rest of the summer as he'd have a new song or feature premiere every Friday on DJ Self's show. On July 3, Mase appeared on the remix to Trey Songz' hit single "I Need A Girl," where he shouts out "And Diddy told them that '10 years from now we'll still be on top. I thought I told you that we won't stop," referring to the line on "Mo' Money, Mo' Problems."
July 10 would be the first time a brand new track featuring Mase would be released as he drops the first verse on "Get It," which was produced by Big Ran and also featured Cam'ron. There are two versions out, one featuring newcomer B. Rossi and the other featuring Vado, but what makes this song special is that it marks the first time in over ten years that Mase has worked with Cam'ron. Mase released the Ron Browz produced "Thinkin' 'Bout You" on July 17, then followed that up by adding a verse to the street remix of Teairra Mari & Kanye West's "Diamonds", on July 24. Mase used the last Friday in July to "Shut the City Down," which was the title of his second solo release since his comeback began. The song primarily discusses the rapper's legacy and makes reference to the ways in which Rap music, as a business, has changed since he reigned atop of it. He also makes reference to his new Batman-esque logo, and hints at himself as Hip-Hop's superhero. Mase released the song "Radio" on August 21 as a prelude to his upcoming mixtape, titled "I Bleed Money." On September 11, Mase was one of the featured artists who appeared on the remix to Ron Browz' "Gimme 20 Dollars." While being the third time since his comeback that he has worked with Browz, the remix is also significant in that it's his first collaboration with Jim Jones since the two had their falling out years ago. OJ Da Juiceman and Shawty Lo are also featured.
In an interview with MTV, Diddy spoke on Mase's comeback and what it potentially could mean for his label, Bad Boy Records. "Mase has called me... We've spoken. He's basically said, 'Just keep your eye on me. Making this switch, I gotta kinda bear this cross myself for a second. Just watch what I do.' I said, 'I've seen.' He's definitely one of the dopest emcees to ever touch the game. People can't deny that. He's one of the most successful. I've seen people come back from different things in this game. I said, 'Yeah. Without a doubt, I'll keep my eye on you.' I spoke to him today. He's out there working." Mase has been under contract with Bad Boy for 13 years and this latest gem from MTV and Diddy have led many fans to believe that there may be a Bad Boy reunion in the works.
In October 2009, Mase made an impromptu appearance on a live radio interview with Diddy-Dirty Money on V-103. He told the studio staff he brought documentation that would release him from the Bad Boy label and gave the forms to Diddy during the interview. Diddy signed the forms and announced "[Mase] has the freedom to go do whatever he wants to do." It was later revealed the forms did not end Mase's contractual obligations to the record label, but rather allowed him to appear on songs with artists from different labels.
In 2010, Diddy offered Mase a one year release from Bad Boy Records to settle their differences, with this Mase decided to retire from rap for good although Mase was to be re-signed to Bad Boy after his year break was done. On April 17 2012, Spiff TV Films-the production company that shoots most of the videos for Rick Ross' Maybach Music Group releases tweeted a photo of rappers Ma$e, Rick Ross and French Montana, as well as singer Omarion and producer Rico Love, together in the studio. The picture immediately caused a frenzy online, sparking speculation that Ma$e might be making his third return to music since he announced he was retiring to become a pastor in April 1999 and leaving again in 2007. A week after the photo appeared, DJ Funkmaster Flex debuted a remix of Wale's "Slight Work" on his WQHT (Hot 97) New York radio show. The remix, of Wale's fourth charting single from sophomore album "Ambition," features Maybach rapper Meek Mill, Diddy and new Bad Boy signee French Montana and Ma$e, marking the first appearance of the Harlem rapper on record since 2010. Speaking to Flex during an on-air call following the remix's debut, Ma$e didn't address rumors about him possibly signing with Warner Bros. imprint Maybach Music Group. It was revealed that Bad Boy artist French Montana was the reason Mase was making his third comeback according to Montana, Ma$e is serving as an A&R representative on Montana's forthcoming Bad Boy debut, "Excuse My French," as well as appearing on the remix of Montana's "Everything's a Go." "I'm not sure what kind of decisions he's going to make," Montana says, "[but] I would love to see him in my camp." In September 2012, Mase appeared on Kanye West's Cruel Summer, on the track "Higher" with The-Dream, Pusha T, and Cocaine 80s. In December 2012, Mase announced that he was no longer signed to Bad Boy after being on the label for sixteen years. He would also say he would not likely sign to a new major label anytime soon.