Mason Betha, with Karen Hunter
(Pocket Books) $22
Ma$e wasn't a very good rapper. His voice had an attractive languor to it, but he lacked the charisma of similar, laid-back rap stylists. As for content, Ma$e's raps were usually about the ghetto-fabulous life, but minus the originality exhibited by many of his contemporaries, like his labelmate Notorious B.I.G. As is the problem with all bad rap, Ma$e had no imagination.
At the peak of his fame, Ma$e became a born-again Christian, and denounced the world of glitter and "bling-bling." His transformation from Ma$e the materialist rapper to Mason Betha the spiritual leader is detailed in his book, Revelations. It's hard to say who authored the book; Betha wrote it, but Ma$e provided all the stories.
The first half of the book offers detailed memories about him being discovered by Puff Daddy (then so-named), about his crews, his riches, and of course about his throngs of women. When he's recalling at length how Puffy instantly loved his rapping style, or how he started the trend of wearing shiny jean suits, or how he once got a girl pregnant because his extra-large condom broke, it's hard to imagine the saved Mason Betha not experiencing pleasure from recalling the unholy Ma$e.
As the pun in the book's subtitle (There's Light After the Lime) implies, Mason Betha has a very fluid understanding of words and terms. For example: "We live in a contemporary society. Con-Temporary. It's 'con,' meaning deceitful for personal gain. And it's temporary, meaning a fad, a phase, a moment, a myth; it will fade away." This, of course, is pure invention--the "con" in "contemporary" comes from the Latin root meaning "with," and "temporary" refers to time--but at least it's interesting.
Indeed, Pastor Mason Betha expresses himself with the kind of linguistic liberty and flair that the rapper Ma$e never had.