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Sunday, July 18, 1999 Published at 08:12 GMT 09:12 UK

Entertainment: New Music Releases

CD Review: Ma$e

Ma$e: Lasting legacy with Double Up

By the BBC's Chris Charles

All good things come to end and when divine intervention is at work, there is nothing you can do to prolong the ecstasy.

Mason Durrell Betha, aka Ma$e, is calling it a day just short of his 21st birthday to pursue God's work, robbing the world of one of its premier rap stars.

Following the hugely successful debut album Harlem World, Ma$e stepped out of Puff Daddy's shadow to fill the yawning void left by the tragic Notorious B.I.G, but finding a successor to this precocious talent could prove a trickier task.

Lasting legacy

[ image: Ma$e: As fresh and innovative as ever]
Ma$e: As fresh and innovative as ever
If this really is it, then in Double Up he has left a lasting legacy, with his use of beats and samples as fresh and innovative as ever.

Ma$e's inimitable style is so laid back you fear at times he is in danger of falling off the planet, yet his rhymes are so slick and sharp it's a wonder he doesn't cut himself.

On Same Ni***rs he blasts the hanger-ons, demanding: "Where were these freaks when I had no jeeps, livin' on 34th Street where we had no heat?"

And on the string-drenched From Scratch he bitterly reflects: "You can't cry now, milk already spilt, I had 11 friends and 10 already killed."

This wistful track also provides the first sign of his new-found devotion, with the proclamation: "If I could do it all again, I'd do it all for Christ."

What an album

[ image: Ma$e: As fresh and innovative as ever]
Ma$e: As fresh and innovative as ever
This faith is not so apparent on the sinister F*** Me, F*** You or the money-orientated All I Ever Wanted, but he can point to the fact that he opted for early retirement after the completion of the album.

And what an album it is - maybe not quite as tight as Harlem World, but certainly up there with Eminem as one of the hip hop compositions of the year.

Shalamar's A Night To Remember is given a new lease of life on the Blackstreet-backed Get Ready - surely one of the only tunes to get Superman and Kryptonite into the lyrics in recent living memory?

No Matter What makes full use of Gary Numan's Cars, Fleetwood Mac's Oh Daddy reappears on Make Me Cry, while Stay Out Of My Way is simply snarling.

And throughout, Ma$e keeps up his mean and moody, unflappable patter, ensuring the end product is as free-flowing as his cash supply.

This is the youth who dreamed of being a basketball legend and had to settle for "Plan B" - the rap star.

Sadly the glittering career has proved short and sweet now that he's discovered Plan C, but as he trains his sights on higher plains, we can only hope our loss will be His gain.

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