2 Records That Will Make You Feel Good

Ma$e: Welcome Back:

Ma$e’s return to the rap game is more of a drop in the bucket than the big splash he made in ’96 as Biggie’s Bad-Boy replacement. That said, for a Ma$e fan, you wont be too disappointed. He’s still got songs where all he does is list his material objects, like “Money Comes and goes.” Lines like “Excuse me miss, you’re standing on my mink/rocks so big they clog up my sink” are evidence that his wittiness has certainly not left him. His “Murda Ma$e” character has been taken over by “very religious Ma$e,” and some fans may not respond well to the pre-school friendly Ma$e. He has spent the last five years ministering in Atlanta Georgia, a lifestyle best described in tracks such as “Gotta Survive” and “I Wanna Go,” where he sings a very romantic outro to his wife Twila Betha. The best song on the record is definitely the title track. “Welcome back,” which utilizes the theme from “Welcome Back Cotter.” The song is both uplifting and not too corny, a problem Ma$e struggled with on this record. He also sings a bit of the hook on this song, which is very endearing. Ma$e is not a good singer. But he’s just so cute that you want to hear more of it. The album would be a lot better if he’d realized what a great voice he has. Ma$e does not curse, does not disrespect women, does not use drugs or alcohol, and definitely does love Jesus. And I definitely love him. He’s terribly cute, and on this album he has grown into his dimples.

I played this record at work last week, and as I danced around making smoothies for people listening to Ma$e, I noticed that women with their babies, and old men with their daughters, were perfectly comfortable with Ma$e. We all got down. None of the men were worried about the safety of their daughters. In fact, most of the store was definitely bopping. So if you need a record to play at your mom’s birthday party, that’s still real hot, pick up the new Mason Betha downtown at Pure Pop.

Akon: Trouble: Akon blew up worldwide this past summer with his song “Locked up.” The remix, featuring Styles P, was one of the biggest tracks both in the US and Europe. Three years ago, he was just a struggling Senegalese immigrant actually locked up in one of our countries many correctional institutions. His record, released last year on Universal records, reflects both his past, present, and future. The rage of prison, the desperation of the block, the feeling of the Senegalese music he grew up with, and the hard beats of New York hip- hop are all prevalent on this self-produced thuggish R&B record.

Despite the serious subject matter discussed in songs like “Ghetto,” “Locked up,” “Trouble Nobody,” and “Lonely,” the overall record itself is very enjoyable to listen to. Akon’s voice raises him above typical R&B artists, to the point where I actually bought the record, the first ever for an R&B. He has a really high voice, and a touch of the Senegalese he grew up with, which works well with his high pitched beats and produces an altogether interesting sound. Again, this is a record that both you and your mother can enjoy at the same time, albeit with the volume relatively low, because he does have a fair amount of sensitive subject matter (i.e. spousal abuse and serious drug slangin’ ).