Mase

Double Up

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Shortly after he completed his second album, Double Up, Mase announced his retirement from hip-hop. He chose to follow the path of the Lord, which didn't just mean that he could no longer rap -- he no longer had the desire to do so. Frustratingly, the album finds Mase continuing to improve, but falling short of delivering a stunning farewell that could stand as his last testament. Double Up pretty much recycles the same hooktastic pop-rap formulas as Harlem World, following Puff Daddy's design of borrowing the best, regardless of the source (for example, Gary Numan provides the basis for one cut), and turning it into radio-ready party music. While this is pleasing to the ear, it tends to be a little monotonous and too predictable, especially when compared to Mase's raps. True, he still favors a flat, slow delivery but there's a growing undercurrent of distaste for hip-hop clich├ęs, a feeling which, ultimately, led to Mase throwing in the towel and turning to God. Certainly, this gives Double Up more lyrical drama than the average hip-hop album, and it's often enough to keep it compelling when the music flat-lines. Still, there's still the sneaking suspicion that Double Up could have been more -- either an excellent pop-rap record with no flab, or a convincing statement of purpose, evidence of why Mase had to leave hip-hop behind. As it stands, it's simply a good sequel to a promising debut. Which, of course, is all that it needed to be, but in light of Mase's retirement, it's hard not to want more.

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