On this day, August 24, in hip-hop history…
2004: It remains one of hip-hop’s greatest curiosities but Mason Betha’s voluntary departure from the music industry to become a pastor seems as strange now as it did then. For a man who stylizes his rapper name with a dollar sign in place of the “S”, Ma$e’s exit seems as strange and shocking as anything that happened in hip-hop. It would come as no surprise to music fans that Pastor Betha would return to the music game in 2004 with the release of his third album, Welcome Back.
Eschewing the materialism and profanity of his earlier works, Welcome Back declares himself as a “Bad Boy gone clean” on the Welcome Back, Kotter-sampling title track of the album. Ma$e’s new album would find modest commercial success with the album going Gold with over 500,000 copies sold and spawning two hit singles, “Breathe, Stretch, Shake” and “Welcome Back.”
In the years immediately following the album’s release, Ma$e would seek greener pastures beyond the Bad Boy family unsuccessfully attempting to sign with 50 Cent and G-Unit Records in 2006 and sporadically appearing on guest songs in the interim. In 2010, Ma$e would officially retire from music after Diddy granted him a one-year release from Bad Boy Records. Welcome Back remains Ma$e’s final release as an artist.