On this day, Aug. 24, in hip-hop history...

Bad Boy Records
Bad Boy Records

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 seemed as shocking as anything that happened in hip-hop. However, his loyal fans welcomed Pastor Betha with open arms when he would return to the music game in 2004, with the release of his third album, aptly titled Welcome Back.

Eschewing the materialism and profanity of his earlier works, Welcome Back finds the rapper declaring himself as a "Bad Boy gone clean" on the Welcome Back, Kotter-sampled title track of the album. Ma$e's new LP 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 RecordsWelcome Back remains Ma$e's final release as an artist.

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