– After the passing of Notorious B.I.G, Bad Boy Records had big shoes to fill. However, the release of Harlem World back in 1997 showed that Mase was the right man for the job.
Mase originally rose to fame as a member of the Harlem hip-hop group, Children of the Corn alongside Cam’ron and Big L. However, following the death of 2 group members, including its founder, Big L, Mase signed to Bad Boy Entertainment. Soon after, Mase received widespread attention from his appearance on Notorious B.I.G’s hit single,“Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems” and the rest was history. Mase soon became Puff Daddy’s new protégé as he began to promote Mase as Bad Boy’s main attraction.
On October 28, 1997, Harlem World was released and was an immediate success. The project was #1 on the Billboard Pop and R&B LP charts while also selling 270,000 copies in the U.S during its first week. Harlem World also included quite a few hits such as “Feel So Good” (U.S. #5), “What You Want” (U.S. #6), and “Lookin’ at Me” (U.S. #8).
While it’s clear to every hip-hop fan that Notorious B.I.G was an irreplaceable talent, it is also easy to understand how Mase became Bad Boy’s next leading artist. His smooth and laid back delivery joined with his clever and eloquent lyricism was reminiscent of B.I.G himself – not to mention, Mase’s flow matched perfectly with the R&B-esque production style of Puff Daddy and his production team, The Hitmen. Besides Puff, other Hitmen Producers who worked on Harlem World included Deric “D-Dot” Angelettie, Carl “Chucky” Thompson, Nashiem Myrick, Carlos “6 July” Broady, and Stevie J. Dame Grease, Jermaine Dupri, and the then unknown Neptunes also contributed to the album’s production.
If Mase’s own lyrical ability and the all-star production lineup wasn’t enough to make Harlem World an instant classic, the list of featuring artists definitely did the trick. That list includes Jay Z, Monifah, DMX, The Lox, Kelis, 112, Total, Black Rob, Lil Kim, Busta Rhymes, Kelly Price, and even 8Ball & MJG — just to name a few.
Although Mase’s initial exit from hip-hop was unexpected and his following releases became more sporadic, he has still managed to put his own stamp on the game. Mase is among the few rappers who have been able to collaborate with as many other legendary artists as he has. As a hip-hop fan, there’s simply no way to escape Mase’s entire catalogue of music despite how small it may be. Then again, why would you ever want to?
Check out the full album and “Feel So Good” music video above!
Written by DJ Robinson