Editorial, Main, Stream

Mase Vs. Cam’ron: For The Culture

This past weekend gave 90s heads a reason to be excited; Harlem-legends Ma$e and Cam’ron went toe-to-toe is a full-on…

This past weekend gave 90s heads a reason to be excited; Harlem-legends Ma$e and Cam’ron went toe-to-toe is a full-on rap beef complete with vicious person jabs and insidious claims. But, was it all for the clicks? Their cordial agreeance to disagree and move forward via text (which Cam shared) seems to suggest it was all in good fun — or was it Ma$e being jabbed for far too long?

To appreciate the magnitude of the beef, it’s vital to understand the actual history these guys have; this wasn’t bullshit Twitter beef with a stranger.

Both Cam and [Murda] Ma$e were members of the often under-celebrated Harlem-based group Children Of The Corn, which included Herb McGruff, Cam’s cousin Bloodshed, and the late icon Big L. The group recorded roughly 30 tracks, but were largely derailed as a collective by the death of bloodshed and L. However, by the time that L was murdered in 1999, all the group’s members had signed solo-deals and ventured out on their own.

Ma$e was — without question — the most successful by the time 1998 rolled around. His debut, Harlem World, topped charts and to date has gone 4-times platinum. It was his label situation with Bad Boy that helped Cam link with Biggie Smalls, who consequently facilitated him inking a deal with  Lance “Un” Rivera “Un” Rivera. Ma$e also appeared on Cam’s first breakout single “Horse & Carriage,” and appeared in his visual for “357.”

Fast-forward to 1999, Ma$e retired from rapping to become a Christian pastor. The circumstances surrounding his departure from Harlem (and Hip Hop) were murky for years. The official story that we’ve come to accept is that Uptown-resident Baby Maine (cousin of incarcerated rapper Max B) ran Ma$e out of Harlem for having relations with his girl. It is captured in the song “Jealous Guy,” which Maine saw as extremely disrespectful. So whether or not he was fully committed, the “finding God” angle was a front of sorts.

Now, Cam and Ma$e go way back — even playing basketball together in High School, but Cam and the Dipset crew have openly talked about Ma$e for years. On wax, you can go back to Cam’s biggest album, Come With Me. He spits the following bars on “I Just Wanna” about Ma$e’s sudden departure: “I just want him to know/rock them jewels, flash that chrome/It’s all good, you can come back home if you want.”

That was the nicer acknowledgment. In fact, some of their public comments had been less than flattering; Cam was pretty loose on Instagram Live earlier this year, basically calling a spade a spade, eliciting a response from Ma$e.

Most recently, Cam dropped some pretty vicious bars on the opening verse of “It’s Killa” on The Program:

“Then I watched him play Pop Lotti against Baby Maine/ At this time I’m moving heroin in Maryland/ They both died, and this nigga turned reverand/ Had the hood hot, FBI and agents ’round/ We need a referee, shit, that shit a flagrant foul.”

That brings us to “The Omen,” and Cam’s (kind of disappointing) “Dinner Time.” The fans of us here at AAHH have concluded Ma$e was a clear winner, but — in all actuality — Hip Hop won.

In a week that also saw a new project from Fabolous and Jadakiss, NYC seems to be on a pretty nice run right now. Though neither of these artists is in any state that we could consider a prime, It had heads glued to the net in a fashion similar to the way heads were glued to Hot 97 awaiting a response record in the epic Nas and Jay-Z beef.

As a 30-something-year-old who got on to Children Of The Corn before these two dropped their other shit — I believe it was on a Stretch & Bobbito tape I copped as a kid — this battle was something special for me. I knew that the “dirt” they had on each other would be extremely deep, and as a whole, I wasn’t disappointed. I found myself saying “what a time to be alive” no less than 16 times in the past 48 hours.

While the preview for Cam’s response included mention of the fact The Program 2 is dropping January 1st (making this all seem like a commercial), I still loved it — for the culture. Ma$e is often written off as a corny rapper, but his shit when quadruple platinum. We all fucked with his music pretty heavy, is tbh Harlem World holds up 20 years later.

There is plenty of chatter centered on irrelevance, which is sad. These two came up in an era when shit was analog — no internet, no steams. Just straight up physical sales. Most newer (urban) artists will never know what it feels like sell four million full-length albums. Not singles, ALBUMS. I for one am happy that these cats are still out here. As for Ma$e, even if he fades back into obscurity, at least he can go out with his head a little higher than the last time he dipped.

Riley here — father, artist, videographer, professional writer and SERIOUS hip-hop head. I'm a member of the Universal Zulu Nation, and I think everything is better on vinyl. Add me on Twitter! @specialdesigns
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