AKA Mason Durell Betha
Birthplace: Jacksonville, FL
Religion: Born-Again Christian
Race or Ethnicity: Black
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Rapper, Religion, Author
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Rapper-turned-pastor
Born in Jacksonville and raised in Harlem, Mason Betha was banished back to Florida by his parents at the age of 13 in order to remove him from the less constructive influences of New York City life. Betha returned two years later to pursue a career in basketball, excelling enough in the sport to earn himself a scholarship to the State University of New York; eventually, however, the young man's interest in hip-hop won out over his basketball ambitions, and he dropped out to establish himself in the music industry. Adopting the name "Mase Murder", he joined the rap crew Children of the Corn, only to have the group disintegrate soon afterwards following the death of one of his bandmates. Mase subsequently made the decision to continue as a solo performer, and began working to establish himself on the New York club circuit.
In 1996 the rapper made the trip to Atlanta to attend one of its numerous music conferences, in the hopes of attracting the interest of producer Jermaine Dupri. Ultimately, it was Sean Puff Daddy Combs that found potential in the young rapper, and Mase soon found himself with a contract on Combs' Bad Boy Records. The following year he made his label debut as a guest on the remix for 112's single Only You; as the year progressed, a list of guest appearance credits rapidly accumulated, with Combs including the rapper on just about everything he produced: Puff Daddy's Can't Nobody Hold Me Down and It's All About the Benjamins, Notorious B.I.G.'s Mo Money Mo Problems, Busta Rhymes' The Body Rock, Mariah Carey's Honey, Junior M.A.F.I.A.'s Young Casanova, and several others. In October Mase's solo debut Harlem World topped both the Pop and R&B charts within the week of its release, instantly pushing him to the fore of the hip-hop field.
Over the next year and a half, Mase continued to build his list of guest credits -- turning up several more times on Puff Daddy singles, as well as on songs by Brandy, Cam'ron, and alongside Mya and Blackstreet on the track Take Me There for the soundtrack of the Rugrats animated film. Much to everyone's surprise, just prior to the release of his second offering Double Up in June 1999 he announced that he was leaving the music industry to become a Christian minister; the sudden change, combined with his unwillingness to make promotional performances, had a significant impact on this second record's success (it "only" managed to reach #11 in the charts and "only" earned gold sales status). As Pastor Betha, Mase spent the next several years establishing S.A.N.E. Church International ("Saving A Nation Endangered"), for which he received an Honorary Doctorate of Theology from the St. Paul Bible Institute in New York. A memoir about his abrupt rise to fame and subsequent religious conversion was published in 2002 under the title Revelations: There's a Light After the Lime.
This retirement from the music industry did not prove to be permanent, and in 2004 Mase released his third album Welcome Back. The overtly religious slant to the new material did not alienate the hip-hop buying audience, apparently: the title track was pushed to the top of the R&B singles charts, and the album itself entered the top 10 of both the pop and R&B charts. The usual long roster of guest appearances by other rappers was absent this time around, but the technique of appropriating melodies from popular songs (the theme from Welcome Back Kotter, and Madonna's La Isle Bonita) was still put to effective use.
Sister: Stase (twin, musician)
Wife: Twyla (one child)
University: State University of New York at Purchase (basketball scholarship)
Disorderly Conduct New York, Apr-1998
Author of books:
Revelations:There's a Light After the Lime (2002)
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