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The rapper's retirement is another serious blow to Combs' Bad Boy Records, which has had several severe setbacks in the past few years including the death of its flagship act, the Notorious B. G.; paltry sales for its latest releases from R & B groups 112, Total and Faith Evans, and a serious street-credibility problem for Combs, its chief and lead artist."I don't want to underestimate Puffy, but there's definitely going to be some major turbulence in Bad Boy's friendly skies," says Sacha Jenkins, music editor at VIBE magazine, which features Ma$e on its June/ July issue.
First rap name: Murder Mase, when he was a member of the Harlem-based rap group Children of the Corn Big break: Sean (Puffy) Combs discovered him at a rap convention.On the cover, he's surrounded by three pretty women with a sly grin plastered on his face.A diamond-encrusted religious medallion hangs from his neck."Ma$e is a major star who generates lots of cash and represents a different style of rap," Jenkins says."He's the guy your little sister may love, and your girl, too and you may have some respect for him, as well."He was catching it from the rappers, because everyone else felt like they paid their dues and he didn't, and he was catching it hard from the hard-core fans that felt like his popularity in the suburbs was a sellout," said one industry executive who asked not to be identified.
Ma$e fueled speculation of a rift with Combs last year, when he partnered with a Combs rival So So Def Records to create his own rap label, Harlem World Records." Neither Ma$e nor Robinson would comment on the rapper's contractual obligations to Bad Boy Records, which signed the artist to a multi-album deal in 1996.Standard contracts usually call for artists to record at least six to eight albums. Robinson said that if Ma$e ever records again, he still would be "obligated to make records with Bad Boy." But the sweet-faced protege of superproducer Sean (Puffy) Combs says it's all behind him, and now he wants to spread God's word to the children."I know God touched my heart to lead the youth back to Him," Ma$e said.His strong, universal appeal may be missed at the label.