Mase was born Mason Durell Betha in Jacksonville, Florida on August 27, 1977. Growing up, he did not know his father. Fleeing her abusive husband, Mason’s mother moved her children to Harlem, New York, when Mason was three years old. He spent his early teen years gambling, cutting class, chasing after girls and running the streets of 139th and Lenox; 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. Basketball was his first love. He was a star player for Manhattan Center High School—along with his close friend Cam’ron. As teens, the two dabbled in rap as a hobby, briefly forming a group called Children of the Corn ("corn" stood for "corner"). Damon Dash, a fellow Manhattan Center student, was their manager for a while before leaving to pursue another rap associate Big L. After graduating high school in 1994, Mason went to the State University of New York at Purchase in Westchester, New York on a basketball scholarship. He returned to Harlem after only a couple of semesters, intent on pursuing a career in rap. His sister Stason hooked him up with Cudda Love, a road manager for burgeoning rap legend Biggie Smalls. In 1996 Cudda took Mason down to Atlanta, where the likes of Jermaine Dupri and Sean "P. Diddy" Combs were gathering for a rap convention. Shortly after meeting and rapping for Combs at the Hard Rock Café, Ma$e signed a $250,000 deal with Bad Boy Entertainment and joined labelmate Notorious B.I.G. in building a pop culture dynasty. . Within a week Mase was featured on and also was in the video for 112's "Only You" with Biggie.
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. During that year Mase appeared on songs with Puff Daddy, Mariah Carey's Honey, Brian McKnight's You Should Be Mine (Don't Waste Your Time) & Brandy's Top of the World who he was in a relationship at the time.
In 1998 Mase formed his own record label called "All Out Records". He signed his group Harlem World to the label while they were also under So So Def Recordings. He and Harlem World rapper Blinky Blink were featured on the song Take Me There by Blackstreet & Mýa which was featured on the soundtrack to The Rugrats Movie.
Mase's second effort, Double Up, was released in 1999 on Bad Boy Records and sold 107,000 copies in its first week, debuting at #11 on the US Top 200 chart. It ultimately reached #5. Double Up also featured 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. The same year, Mase enrolled as a freshman at Clark Atlanta University, a historically black college, and had been taking classes at CAU since August 19 of that year. But unlike other freshmen, Mase was permitted to live off campus and commute, although he is said to downplay his past as a musical performer.
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, was released August 24, 2004 through Bad Boy Records and distributed by Universal Music Group. The album debuted at #4 in the US, selling 188,000 copies in its first week of release. 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. Although the album was not as big a commercial success as Harlem World, the singles "Welcome Back" and "Breathe, Stretch, Shake" received moderate radio airplay and video play on BET and MTV, with the latter single reaching #28 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Both singles were also certified gold by the RIAA.
In the mid-2000s, 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 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 Cent, Diddy refused to let Mase out of his contract with Bad Boy Records for anything less than $2 million. Uncertain that Mase's album would sell well enough to make up for that type of investment, 50 Cent gave up on trying to bring Mase onto G-Unit.
Following the formula that worked for him 13 years ago, Mase has begun to appear on popular R&B artists' remixes. In early June 2009, he was featured on the last verse of "Uptown Boy" by Harry O, signed to The Inc. Records, 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 Marí and 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$e might be making his third return to music since he announced he was retiring to become a pastor in April 1999 and leaving again in 2007. A week after the photo appeared, DJ Funkmaster Flex debuted a remix of Wale's "Slight Work" on his WQHT (Hot 97) New York radio show. The remix, of Wale's fourth charting single from second album "Ambition," features Maybach rapper Meek Mill, Diddy and new Bad Boy signee French Montana and Ma$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. However he would tell MTV the only two artists record labels he would consider signing to would be Kanye West's GOOD Music or Drake's OVO Sound. On October 18, 2013, Mase announced his next album would be titled Now We Even. He also stated his wish list for guest appearances would include Jay-Z, Diddy, Beyoncé, Drake, 2 Chainz, Lauryn Hill, Meek Mill, Fabolous, Ariana Grande, Dipset, Eric Bellinger, Seal and CeeLo Green.
On July 21, 2017, Mase was featured along with Big Gigantic on Steve Aoki's track titled $4,000,000 on the album titled Steve Aoki Presents Kolony .Revelations: There's a Light After the Lime (2001)
Harlem World (1997)
Double Up (1999)
Welcome Back (2004)
Now We Even (TBA)