In hip-hop, recognition, humility, and respect are perhaps the main forms of behavior rappers expect to receive from each other. When the aforementioned behaviors are absent between two rappers, what is known in hip-hop as beef, arises. This is exactly what happened between Ma$e and Cam’ron.
While attending the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade this past Thursday, Nov. 23rd, former Bad Boy standout Ma$e couldn’t mentally fathom what his former Harlem kin, Cam’ron put out into the universe.
Earlier this month, Cam’ron released his first full length album in four years, The Program. On the album is a song titled “It’s Killa,” where The Diplomats founder adds fire to his already brewed beef with Ma$e by blowing up the dark parts of his past and imposes a threat on his life with lyrics such as, “Told him straight up I ain’t feeling him/Let me curve this nigga ‘fore I end up killing him.”
Feeling the fiery urge to respond, after the parade, Ma$e went into the studio to record a four minute and four second diss dedicated to Cam, “The Oracle.” Finalized in about one hour, the rapper/pastor spits over the beat of Jay-Z’s “Blueprint 2” -a song where the rap legend combats his fellow legend in rap, Nas, and exposes his knowledge on the shadowy conduct of the Harlem knight.
“I let too much pass and I was gonna continue to let it pass but when somebody don’t stop — I had to just spank him one time,” Ma$e tells Genius.
The next day, Ma$e drops “The Oracle” on Soundcloud and ends up contributing to the roster of classic hip-hop diss tracks. When it comes to the best diss track of 2017, “The Oracle” is neck to neck with Remy Ma’s Nicki Minaj diss “Shether.”
The “Been Around the World” rapper starts off the track by recollecting an encounter he had with Dame Dash back in 2004 when he resurged from “retirement” with Welcome Back, the mogul suggested, “Why don’t you and Cam just beef?” The once Bad Boy pretty boy insisted there was no reason for him to push the beef, when in his eyes, there was none. But, he apparently always found Killa “saying something.”
The stabs thrown on “The Oracle” were starkly intense.
From accusing Cam’ron of incest (sleeping with his own sister), to conducting shady business with fellow Dipset bodies Juelz Santana and Jim Jones to paying the mother of a mutual friend to lie about Ma$e being influential in her son’s death, Ma$e found the track as being a way to tell the masses what really happened.
“Pussy nigga wearin’ pink I guess he think he matchin’
I’ma paint the picture, let the niggas make the caption.”
Cam’ron and Ma$e’s bond traces back to their native neighborhood of Harlem’s westside in the early 1990s through the sport of basketball. Cameron Giles, who is from W 139th St and Mason Betha, whose stomping ground was in and around Lenox Terrace, both used to play ball for Young Life on 131st Street and Riverside Church on 120th Street as adolescents. So close, they both chose the same high school, Manhattan Center For Science And Mathematics, where Cam’ron played the starting point guard and Ma$e was his right hand shooting guard on the school’s basketball team. The dynamic duo even led Manhattan Center to a NYC PSAL Championship in 1992, unfortunately losing to Brandeis HS in the final moments of the game as shown in the hood flick ‘Killa Season’.
During the early 90s, a 16-year old kid from 140th St and Lenox Ave was known to be one of the biggest rappers on the block. Lamont Coleman a.k.a. Big L was his name. After meeting Lord Finesse in 1990, the momentum of Big L spread across Harlem in the spirit of recognition. In 1991, he gathered Cam’ron, Ma$e, & Bloodshed (Cam’ron’s cousin who was later killed in a car accident in 1997), and lastly Herb McGruff to form the rap group, Children of the Corn.
Ma$e who went under the moniker ‘Murda Mase’ was known for his hardcore street smart lyricism and unique flow patterns.
Known by the stage name ‘Killa Cam’, the Cam’ron developed a signature touch with his thematic cadance and raw-bound vocals.
C.O.C. members Herb McGruff and Killa Cam were featured on Big L’s debut and only album, Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous on the Buckwild produced track, “8 Iz Enuff.”
In 1994, Murda Mase went off to SUNY Purchase on a basketball scholarship but after a few semesters, the aspiring rapper returned to Harlem to pursue his rap career. His sister, Stason Bertha introduced him to the road manager of Biggie Smalls, Cudda Love. According to Cam’ron in a groundbreaking Instagram Live session, Cudda Love is the one who helped Ma$e “get pretty.”
Ma$e lands himself a $250,000 deal with Bad Boy Records after spitting for Sean Combs at a Hard Rock Cafe in Atlanta, a trip that was lead by Cudda Love. One week later, he was featured on 112’s “Only You,” joining B.I.G.
Around the time Ma$e got signed, Cam’ron who was in the midst of his freshman year at a college in Texas, got kicked out and made his way back to Harlem to pursue his own rap career. Upon his return to Harlem, he along with Ma$e started to hang out with a kid named “Joe Moe,” known today as Jim Jones, who eventually becomes a co-founder of the Dipset collective with Cam.
Apparently, Ma$e and Jones fell out early, due to expected loyalty matters.
It was at that very time, Cam’ron began to notice his fellow C.O.C. brother “started moving funny.” Cam peeped game. Ma$e was coming out with a new album and his Bad Boy deal was coming to fruition.
“Now that i’m older, I kinda see the position Mase was in. This time Mase was older than me and I was a little younger. I couldn’t understand how he was moving. I didn’t respect it.”
Now, the silent tension between Ma$e and Cam’ron is born. Yet, the two Harlem rappers remain civilized with one another.
Between late 1996 and early 1997, Ma$e introduces Cam’ron to The Notorious B.I.G. and ends up spitting a block of bars that left the Brooklyn legend in awe. After Biggie’s death in 1997, music executive to Big, Lance ‘Un’ Rivera signed Cam’ron to his record label Untertainment via Epic Records.
In July of 1998, Cam’ron released his debut album, Confessions of Fire and his single “Horse and Carriage” featured his Bad Boy pretty boy homie, but also triggers another bump in their bond.
Ma$e asked for $50,000 when Cam asked him to be in the music video for their single, “Horse and Carriage.” Under the impression Ma$e was dragging his big-headness, the Dipset founder thought he simply did not want to do the video. Ma$e claims it was due to business matters. He wanted both he and Cam’ron to reap a great deal of the video’s monetary gain which Cam later admitted to understanding Ma$e’s angle after being seasoned in the music business.
In 1999, right before the hit of the millennium, Ma$e retired from publishing hip-hop music for the sake of his commitment to the religious Christian doctrine after the release of his second album, Double Up. In an 1999 interview with Phoenix New Times, the new found preacher elaborates on his hopes for his new journey, “It’s not just the giving it up, it’s the sticking with it. Like most people have seen a lot of entertainers entertain the thought, but we haven’t seen many stick with it.”
Maintaining Harlem origins, in the late 90s, Cam’ron along with Jim Jones formed their own rap collective, The Diplomats also known as Dipset, which involved by a young Juelz Santana, Freekey Zekey, J.R Writer & Hell Rell.
In July of 2004, while Ma$e was conducting an interview on Hot 97, Jim Jones and Cam’ron called in and blasted Ma$e for video he made discrediting hip-hop also labeling him, a liar. “I don’t like you. You shouldn’t have came out your mouth. I’ll put some dentures in your mouth. Go back down south with your congregation. Tell the truth. For you to sit there and lie…you are a reverend,” says Jim Jones.
Jones goes on to claim Pastor Bertha’s reason for leaving New York City was due to extortion in Harlem which had him walking on eggshells, constantly. He denied Jones runway claim.
Cam revealed Ma$e asked him to do an album the week prior and blew up the reality that he was calling rap music “the devil” in his sermons. Bertha denied the labeling of his once sole job. “You said rap is the devil at your speeches in church. I got it on tape…and you’re rapping [again],” Cam’ron recalls.
Well, the rev couldn’t fall back from the rap game for too long. In August 2004, he released his comeback album, Welcome Back which featured Billboard charter “Breathe, Stretch, Shake,” putting the Harlem emcee back in the game. Shortly after the release of Welcome Back, Ma$e was spotted with G-Unit ringleader and later, Cam’ron rival 50 Cent. This sparked wonders within the masses about Ma$e possibly joining G-Unit, which ended up being a mislead mistake as expressed by the reverend.
Fast Forward to 2017, Ma$e returns to the mic after Cam’ron disses him on “It’s Killa,” giving birth to “The Oracle,” leaving Cam no room for revival. Cam responded with “Dinner Time,” a Heatmakerz produced track featuring samples of a sermon, shooting equal shots back at the Welcome Back rapper, once Bad Boy. The Harlem emcee labels Ma$e as a bum, responds to the incest line by recalling a sexual bound allegation involving a dildo in Diddy’s bathroom and clarifies it was his own twin sister, Stason Bertha, that he smashed, along with claims of molestation.
“You done opened up a door, I’m petty, ready for war
I ain’t got a sister, only sister I fucked was yours
I know the bars off The Program touched you
How you mad at me, though you let Mr. Royce touch you”
The next day, Cam’ron shares on his Instagram a conversation between him and Ma$e where “The Oracle” spitter insists: “YOU STILL MY BROTHER IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE…”
A few moments after, Murda Mase posted to his Instagram a photo of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen with the caption, “Sometimes You Can Be Better Than Your Critics. #Mase #TheOracle Keep All Secret Love..If it’s real post it or don’t tell me about it at all.”
That same day, Murda commented under a post of Funk Flex, where the veteran DJ shares Cam’s “reconciled” post insisting they are not cool. “We’re not cool. I shook his hand cause I won. That’s it. As a man that’s what you do after you win unanimously.”
In a word, the beef between Cam’ron and Ma$e has been squashed, but as clarified by the rapper turned pastor, the two legendary Harlem emcees are still not cool with each other. With such a profoundly deep journey into the coming of their MC stance with connections such as Big L, Biggie Smalls, and even Dame Dash who briefly managed Children of the Corn, for the sake of their legacies and common understanding the two might just rethink the vitality of their relationship.