Born Mason Durrell Betha c. 1977 in Jacksonville, FL.
Education: graduated, Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics, 1994; studied at State University of New York at Purchase.
Barely out of high school, Mason Durrell Betha, a.k.a. Mase, found his way into one of the most successful entertainment circles of the 1990s--Sean "Puffy" Combs' Bad Boy Entertainment. Mase ended up signing with the label and going on to appear on dozens of hit records for artists like chart-topping pop singer Mariah Carey, veteran Tina Turner, and hip-hop brethren like the Notorious B.I.G. He appeared on songs that achieved success on the hip-hop, R&B, pop, and Billboard charts. Mase was seen by critics as Combs' protege, and Combs referred to Mase as "my little brother." When he did release his first record, Harlem World, on Bad Boy, it debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and went quadruple platinum. Although Mase's songs ranged from uplifting hip-hop dance tracks to menacing hard-core raps, he always thanks God--and Combs--for his success. In 1999, just before the release of his second solo album, Double Up, the young and successful rapper announced his retirement from music and his dedication to God.
Born in Jacksonville, Florida, Mase and his family moved to the heart of New York City's Harlem when he was five years old. He divided his time between school, church, and basketball. When he got involved in the Harlem street life a little too heavily for his mother's comfort, she sent him back to Jacksonville for two years. Mase returned to Harlem to graduate the Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics in 1994, and then attend the State University of New York at Purchase on a basketball scholarship. He quit his second year to pursue his career in music. "She wasn't okay with that at all," Mase told Rolling Stone writer David Fricke of his mom. "But she always respected my decisions, and I just told her that this is my dream."
In 1999, the month before the scheduled release of his second album on Bad Boy, Double Up, Mase announced that he would retire from music to follow God. "I'm grateful for all the blessings bestowed on me that were a result of my music career," Mase said in a Bad Boy press release. "Now it's time for me to serve God in His way. The Lord sends you messages when He's ready and not necessarily when we are." He reportedly had plans to get involved helping inner-city kids, while also considering pursuing a psychology degree, preaching, and travel. To promote the record for Bad Boy, Mase agreed to speaking engagements only, and would not do any performances. He told USA Today, "I just felt like my work as a rapper is done."