Paul Thompson once shot the fair one with Blinky Blink

When it became evident that Mase and his nimble, sedate flow were inescapable influences on rap in the 2000s, some people had to be a little embarrassed. During Bad Boy’s heyday, a hefty faction of rap listeners wrote him off: he was at best an innocuous fixture on the radio, at worst a strawman villain out to destroy that real shit. But overnight, the shiny suits became a fun, kitschy reminder of a bygone era; they weren’t dangerous, caught on the unrighteous side of a moral dilemma. The people had spoken, and they needed Pastor Mason Betha to go into the phone booth and come out as M-A-dollar-sign-E. So he listened.

The first time Mase was lured back, he couldn’t quite get it right. First, he sampled the Welcome Back, Kotter theme song. When the world collectively smirked, he started palling around with 50 Cent and re-added the ‘Murda’ prefix to his name. This time, it’s back to basics: calm, cool, collected turns on R&B songs. “Nothing” comes courtesy of Chris Brown producer Nic Nac and features Eric Bellinger on hook duty. If it feels like it’s fresh off the conveyer belt, that’s because it is—it’s a slightly tone-deaf club song masquerading as an ode to the independent woman. Well-intentioned as it may be, “He don’t beat it like I beat it” certainly militates against the hook’s “If you don’t need a nigga for nothing”. Mase is older and a step slower; Mr. “When I Die, Dress Me Fly and Neatly” doesn’t quite capture the effortless cool of almost two decades ago. But it’s exactly what we asked for.

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