Mase: Lord Willin’

Hip-Hop’s prodigal son has returned. Mase exited the rap game five years ago after experiencing tremendous multi-platinum success with his album, Harlem World. He was Bad Boy Records’ marquee artist during the windfall after the death of Biggie Smalls. Before his sophomore CD, Double Up, emerged a couple of years later, Mase had hung up […]

Hip-Hop’s prodigal son has returned. Mase exited the rap game five years ago after experiencing tremendous multi-platinum success with his album, Harlem World. He was Bad Boy Records’ marquee artist during the windfall after the death of Biggie Smalls. Before his sophomore CD, Double Up, emerged a couple of years later, Mase had hung up his microphone in exchange for a Bible. In his time away from entertainment, he became an ordained preacher, established a ministry in Atlanta (S.A.N.E. Ministries), wrote his memoirs titled Revelations, and, most importantly, got his life in tune with his soul.

With his personal planets lined up, Mase returns with a mission, a higher cause and a new album: Welcome Back. What made you come back to Hip-Hop after five years?

Mase: {Click here to see Mase explain} I never actually left the ministry, the reason for me coming back to Hip-Hop is like diamonds; they shine better on a black t-shirt. If I have a light it is best that I shine it where the light is needed, and just be a light among lights and come where the light is needed. So my purpose for being in Hip-Hop is no. 1 is to bring that light and clarity to a lot of people around the world and to make good music and to let people know that there is another way to do it. Not to force people into believing what I believe, but to give them another option it is always good to have another option. So you have no profanity – is the whole album clean?

Mase: Well actually, that isn’t actually anything new, ’cause whenever people thought of Mase they thought of no profanity, so that’s not a big deal. I think a lot of people are really over-exaggerating me, because they don’t understand me and they are making a lot of assumptions. In a world where people don’t like to be judged it seems as though they are doing a lot of judging themselves. So was this a strategic move or did you start writing lyrics?

Mase: Actually I don’t do well when I write on paper. I am better when I listen to a beat and just flow, so I really didn’t have to do like writing and those type of things. I already knew what I wanted to get across in Hip-Hop. I knew I didn’t want to preach to people, I knew that I didn’t want to force my faith on them. What I wanted to do is give them [credible] sound and an album full of singles, and wanted to give radio a hard time picking the single. So I just did a whole album of singles, you could pick anything off of it and make it a single. I look forward to having 4 to 5 videos and 4 to 5 singles and it will run me right into my next album. Speaking on the album what can people expect in appearance? Will Loon be on there?

Mase: Well actually, this album is a Mase album, like when you buy a Nas album you wanna hear Nas, when you buy Jay- Z you wanna hear Jay- Z. I think the artists have been robbing listeners, because you are paying for one person but you get eight other people. That is called a compilation album, and what we have become accustomed to are compilation albums it is not even real albums, because 200,000 of the fans come from Eminem being on it, and another 300 come from Sean Paul on it, 150 come from Usher on the chorus, and it is really not you the people are buying, they really are buying it for all those other people. Then why not just buy a mixed tape? People have talked badly about your return. Did you catch any criticism from people that you tricked them into thinking you were leaving and not coming back?

Mase: People that have a spiritual side understand what I am doing, those who doesn’t probably think I am a hypocrite. But you know, they thought Jesus was a hypocrite and they called him a devil, and I don’t expect people to love me. That is why it makes it easier to do what I do. I expect to come into this and expect friction, but I know at the end there will be a beautiful thing. People will forever respect me for the stand that I took, like for the stand I am taking right now, somebody’s daughter is going to come home for the stand point I am taking, somebody’s son is going to get there act together and say ‘Wo,w this is what people have been praying for their whole life, and it just so happened I was the one they were praying for’. Was it true you had a religious clause that would allow you to get out of your contract with Bad Boy?

Mase: People come up with the silliest things. Actually I didn’t get out of my contract. Puff had the ability and the option to sue me but he didn’t. When I left music he could have said, “You took this money and didn’t complete the agreement and breeched the contract, I’m taking you to court” but he didn’t do that because he knew that what I was doing was for a greater cause than just music. My life right now is so much bigger then music, like music is not the smallest thing to me, but not in the big picture in my life. What is in the big picture?

Mase: The big picture in my life is my faith and the things I live for, like helping people. Music is a tool in which I can do such – not for one second will I compromise what I believe in to be here. The moment I see that they are not allowing me to express what it is that I need to express I won’t be here, because I don’t need this. Will Smith has expressed his interest in being the first Black president and people generally feel he can do that; do you have any higher or specific goal you would like to reach?

Mase: I believe I am already gradually walking in something that people haven’t really come to the knowledge of. Like right now I wouldn’t compare myself with these caliber of people, but I am slowly actually becoming the voice for this generation. This is the only generation that doesn’t have a voice, like every other generation had a voice that spoke for us, and I am slowly becoming that. People don’t even realize that. Like there is a bunch of voices with no reason – now I have the voice and the reason. Before I just had the voice and just grabbed the mic and said I had three Hummers, three Bentleys, three Benz, and had these ends. And why would I need friends? Everybody will like that but did I help you, the people? No, I just made you see some more stuff that I own and that is another reason to critique me and hate on me. But if I came to you and gave you what you were always looking for your entire life, you’ll say ‘Wow, that was real’. Now what’s ‘real’ is that you have the "Lean Back" remix with Eminem, Remy Ma and Fat Joe?

Mase: Yeah. Did they sit down with you or did they send you a track?

Mase: People always send me a track first because they want me to get my verse out of the way. It is very dangerous to give me the song last. So it is like, let him get his verse and everybody can build his or her verse around my verse. That is how it has always been. Even when Biggie was here they would give me the beat let me lay my verse, then give everybody the beat to go and lay their verse. But then slowly they would say stuff like well I think he is better then Ma$e, but then they always give Ma$e the beat first. That is subliminally saying they would hate for me to be the last one, because I think very well. I am a quick thinker you could never ask me something that could throw me off. I think that is my advantage I am a quick thinker. Do you still have that lyrical spirit to write a hot sixteen and punch lines?

Mase: [smiling tremendously] I wouldn’t say I have a competitive spirit. I believe that since I’ve done it in a big way before I would have to do it in an even bigger way and for an even bigger cause. So it is really not even competition, it is like hands down I am already in another class. I am not even in a regular rappers class, and someone like Jay-Z – he is not in the regular rappers class. For the decision I have made in my life I am not just a rapper, so I am not even in their category. So what was on your mind just now? You just had a big smile on your face and I am thinking, ‘What is he thinking?’

Mase: It was funny how people say stuff, but deep down when they see me, they be fans of Mase. When all of these guys were coming up they were listening to me, bouncing. Even with someone like Eminem, on the ‘Lean Back’ remix he is shouting out ‘Harlem’. It was amazing to see that. That is what I respect about Eminem – even though he is a great artist. I respect that he is not to the point were he don’t give people their just dues. Some people are hot, but won’t say another dude is hot; if a dude is hot he is hot. It really speaks for itself; like if I took five years off and you hear the records and you like, ‘If this dude has been gone for five years and he sound like that then it is something in that water’. I don’t think there is another rapper that can take five years off and sound the exact same way, because all of the topics have changed. People are not even on the same page. The labels have changed, the names of cars and everything have changed, so you really got to get your game together. When people listen to Mase they got to take all of that into consideration. Like this dude has been in church, has been totally extracted away from this and for him to come back and still sound like that is like ‘Wow!’ But it is not to my accreditation. God preserved me.