Growing up with 3 older brothers, I was exposed to Hip-Hop a lot as a kid. My earliest memories are of my older brothers playing NaS, Biggie, 2Pac, and Jay-Z a lot during my early years and I remember, at the time, not really liking any of that music that much. I lived a pretty normal live and back then, just like now, I was in a pretty good mood for the majority of my days. Hip-Hop during this time I’m talking about (1996-1998) was all about being a gangsta and being the toughest dude out and all of that wasn't really that cool to me. As a kid, I thought I wouldn't like rap when I was older. The music didn't really speak to me. However, when I was 5 years old a girl my brother had over, (I really believed this dude when he said they were just in there playing PlayStation in there) told me that she thought I looked like Ma$e. Now, at the time I knew who Ma$e was only because I saw him in the old Bad Boy videos with the shiny suits dancing next to Biggie and Puff Daddy. I thought he was pretty cool but I didn't really see any resemblance between us. I figure she only said this because I had a big ass head and smiled all the damn time like he did but anyway; somehow I took that as a compliment.
I started to look out for Ma$e when his songs came on and listen to me when I tell you I truly believed I should have been one of those kids dancing in those old Bad Boy videos. I would've rocked one of those shiny suits like the shit was custom tailored for me (shit, I even used to try the dance moves in the mirror). I thought it was cool that he was the dude that was from Harlem and surrounded by all these gangstas yet he was still just trying to make people feel good. He made the music that he wanted to make and people just happened to love it. I think that is how I approach many aspects of my life today but anyway, back to the story. A few days later my mom was going down the street to go shopping and I decided to tag along with her with the intention of buying my first Hip-Hop album.
While my mom was shopping in Marshall's, I told her I was going to be right back as I ran across the street to go to this music store they had at the time called Strawberry’s. I went in there, slammed my 10 dollars on the counter and demanded the Ma$e album. Ma$e had two albums out at the time so I bought the first album because I was more familiar with the songs. Mannn I was so happy I walked back over to Marshall's with a pep in my step as I was already bumping “Feel So Good” in my head. This joy would come to a screeching halt as I ripped the plastic off my fresh copy of “Harlem World” and could hear my name yelled with a high volume that can only be reached by an angry Haitian woman. My mom was pissed at me for being gone so long (Haitian women exaggerate) and yelled at me in the car the whole way home.
I get home to show my brothers that I am as cool as them now because I now also have a favorite rapper like them and they started clowning me. It turns out weeks before, Ma$e had decided to leave rap altogether and become a pastor. It was no longer cool to like Ma$e but I still listened to and loved that Harlem World album nonetheless. I also respected that Ma$e went against the grain again as he did when he was the “happy rapper” to when he became the rapper turned preacher. I credit Ma$e with my love for Hip-Hop and for being the first person I saw growing up that wasn't really affected by what was going on around him. My favorite artist ever is Kanye West who has admitted to being heavily influenced by Ma$e, but, Ma$e is still my first favorite rapper. When I tell people that Ma$e is one of my idols they look at me crazy but there is a reason why. He managed to care what people just enough to not let it affect what it is that he intends to do.
I have other people I idolize such as Maya Angelou, Muhammad Ali, Magic Johnson, and Pharrell. But, because Ma$e is the most unique answer I have to the question of “Who do you/ did you idolize growing up?” I decided to write a blog post about why I hold him in such high regard.