Release Date: 08.24.04
Record label: Bad Boy Records
Genre(s): Rap, Hip-Hop, R&B, etc.
Clean and Refreshing
by: tom reiter
The first thing I noticed about Mase's second album was the lack of an "Explicit Lyrics" warning label. While Mase has publicly proclaimed his new Christian self for several years now, I was a little skeptical about his return to hip-hop and his maintaining that image. It wouldn't be the first time an artist was hypocritical to make a buck...espcially in the rap genre. However, much to my delight, Mase has succeeded in demonstrating a clean product can still be succesfull in this market, a case to demonstrate sometimes the good guy does win.
The first track, the title track, also happens to be the first single on Welcome Back. It has quickly become the feel-good song of the summer, utilizing a sample and hook over the theme from Welcome Back Cotter. It's a very fitting start, seeing as Mase has been quiet for about five years. "Breathe, Stretch, Shake" will probably see some club rotation.
"Keep It On" is the first true evidence of Mase's positive image. It makes a valid argument about just chillin', not neccessarily getting nekid, freaky, or whatever. He also points out that just because a dude might drive a fancy whip (car) or have cash doesn't make him the best guy, or even a good one (although Mase does plenty of bragging about his goods - more on that in a bit).
On "I Owe" Mase recognizes he owes God for what he has. He sends a message against drugs, sex, and morally wrong actions. "They Love You Need" will be familiar to those that have had someone leave them for what they perceived as greener grass, and how you're left thinking how you put them on a pedestal and will always love them, and that they won't find anything better.
While chock full of bragging about bling, it is still bling-free. This means that it's ok to have money...but Mase controls the money, the money doesn't control him. And while Mase gives God his dues, this is by no means a Christian rap album.
Overall Welcome Back still feels like a late 90's P Diddy album. But whatever he's been doing since then has always worked, and so it does it here, but that's the same thing that doesn't make this a stellar album. It's been done. What helps this album is Mase, and what he brings to the table with his messages and his image. It's refreshing for once. 02-Sep-2004 11:07 PM