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Happy Birthday, Ma$e!

Mase
Tommaso Boddi, Getty Images

Songs from the Bad Boy Records catalog in the late ’90s are a requirement for most playlists. By extension, Ma$e will be relevant for a while. The Harlem World creator turns 38 years old today (Aug. 27).

Ma$e’s rise came out of necessity. He was Bad Boy’s most bankable star following the Notorious B.I.G.’s death and Harlem’s lone star after Big L was murdered in 1999. Ma$e’s nonchalant player persona reached its peak in 1997, when he was featured on Diddy’s septuple-platinum No Way Out album. A few months later, he dropped his multi-platinum debut LP, Harlem World. On both albums, Ma$e displayed an influential lackadaisical flow that was both sleazy and somehow always on beat. The MC was charismatic, and that’s why Harlem World is one of the late ’90s most enjoyable albums.

When Bad Boy Records come to minds, Ma$e is at the top of its most popular artists, but he still couldn’t overcome their trappings: a short reign at the top. Ma$e’s follow-up, Double Up, didn’t reach the same success as his debut, and only (that’s “only” by late-’90s Bad Boy standards) went gold. Diddy’s Forever was also a disappointment. Diddy bounced back, though; Ma$e went on hiatus to become a pastor only to comeback with the family-friendly Welcome Back.

Bad Boy’s former head playboy has been trying to make a comeback in recent years. The number of L’s he’s taken suggests that people have outgrown him. His singles have earned next to no attention, he gets clowned for performing at empty stadiums and he turned his back on the church to relive an era that’s long gone. The false starts may still continue for Ma$e, but at least he has Harlem World to fall back on.

Watch Ma$e’s “What You Want” Video

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