Rapper Mase is back with Now We Even Rapper Mase is back with Now We Even

Mase To Drop New Album 'Now We Even'

After nine years, Ma$e is returning to the studio for what will be his fourth LP. The former Bad Boy rapper made the announcement on Twitter Friday (Oct. 19) night, revealing both the album title, Now We Even, and his dream collaborations for his new LP.

The Harlem World emcee began hinting his return earlier this summer. Mase made a cameo aside Diddy at Drake's fourth annual OVO Fest in Toronto this August where he performed "Feel So Good" and "Mo' Money Mo' Problems" with his former Bad Boy boss. Shortly after, it was rumored that the rapper would be making a comeback, possibly on Drake's OVO label, not with his former home at Bad Boy. (In a previous interview Mase revealed he'd consider signing to both Kanye West's GOOD Music and Drake's OVO Sound.) However, the new LP's title suggests it could possibly be a Bad Boy release, settling his differences and obligations to Diddy's notorious hip-hop label. While Mase has yet to announce with who he'll be releasing the new LP, he did reveal that Drake was still one of his ideal collaborations, along with Lauryn Hill, Cee Lo Green and 2 Chainz. He also wasn't shy about the throwback direction he was taking on his first and "special" effort since 2004's Welcome Back.

Now We Even has no release date, but it couldn't come at a more opportune time. With fresh faces and hip-hop crews dominating the scene, having an OG like Mase, who still continues to influence hip-hop's emcees, come out of hiding is perhaps just what hip-hop ordered. Welcome back Mason Bertha.

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Solitary Alignment: 5 Self-Affirming Reads For Single Ladies On Valentine’s Day

Ahh, the Feast of Saint Valentine—the Hallmark holiday that strikes us with its arrow each year, for better or for worse, depending on your bae status. While the romantic holiday is adored and celebrated by many, if you’re still reeling over, say, your ex’s refusal to commit, chances are Feb. 14 is more of a heartache for you than anything.

But as a wise woman once said, “If they liked it then they should’ve put a ring on it.” So whether V-Day has you scared of lonely or sulking over a lost love, as another wise woman once said, they “would be SUPER lucky to even set eyes on you this Valentine’s Day. That’s it. That’s the gift.” Shout out to The Slumflower.

Sure, having a bae on Valentine’s Day is cool, but so is reminding yourself why you’re just fine without one (cue Webbie’s “Independent”). In fact, single folks have better relationships overall, according to the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. You know how the old adage goes: love yourself before loving someone else.

For this Valentine’s Day, VIBE Vixen rounds up a nourishing list of books for our sisters doin’ it for themselves. Consider this your reminder of how badass you are—because you are! Oh, oh, oh. *Beyoncé voice*

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Johnny Nunez

'So Far Gone': Re-Reviewing Drake's Iconic Mixtape 10 Years Later

“Draaaake?! Draaaake?! Aubrey Graham in a wheelchair... Draaaake?!”

Soulja Boy’s viral rant, while hilarious to 15 million viewers who watched The Breakfast Club interview, seems almost silly to contemplate now in a musical climate so easily dominated by the OVO frontrunner. But in 2009, at the release of Drake’s breakout mixtape, So Far Gone, Soulja’s questions of Drake’s influence and placement on the hip-hop spectrum actually mimicked the inquiries fans may have been asking at the time. Even Drizzy seemed to share those same contemplations on the project as he reflected his newfound stardom and the future that would unfold as a result.

So Far Gone, however, diminished those ounces of doubt. Ten years later, the 18-track project still comes together as one of the most cohesive mixtapes of this decade and has become the building block to one of the sturdiest foundations of a hip-hop artist to date. Revisiting So Far Gone and taking its temperature anew, we get a glimpse of how the personas of the emotional rapper came to be such inescapable and successful forces within the music industry at that time.

 

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@futuretheprince a decade ago you were Dj’ing all ages [email protected] a decade ago you were scared to share your [email protected] a decade ago you worked at a clothing store selling someone else’s [email protected] a decade ago you were in a basement with pink insulation walls figuring out fruity [email protected] a decade ago we were handing out flyers promoting club [email protected] a decade ago you were working the makeup counter at Beverly [email protected] a decade ago your moms house was my safe place and we really ran through the 6 everyday [email protected] a decade ago you were a legend and you will remain that [email protected] a decade ago you promoted me as if you were getting a cut of my [email protected] a decade ago you were the first person to recognize potential and give me a [email protected] a decade ago you came to the Beverly Wilshire Hotel and laid a verse for an unknown artist from [email protected] a decade ago you emailed me the cover art for something that would change my life [email protected] a decade ago you came to my release party at 6 Degrees and made me the biggest artist in the city off your presence [email protected] a decade ago I rapped over your beat cause you just made the best shit and even though you stay wildin on twitter these days I will never forget what you contributed to the game and my career...Portia I don’t know your IG but a decade ago you told me to rap over June 27th and bonded me and Houston Texas [email protected] a decade ago you took a chance on MySpace and introduced me to [email protected] a decade ago you took me out of Toronto and gave me the biggest blessing anybody has ever given me...I will never forget anybody involved in this journey even if you don’t fit in this caption...So Far Gone streaming everywhere for the first time ever Thursday. 🙏🏽

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With his follow-up to Comeback Season (2007), Drake interrupted the hip-hop landscape with introspective songs that played up relationships instead of violence and street life through a healthy mix of confident raps and charming vocals. The idea of “emotional rapping” was so novice that it seemed uncool or too feminine in a male-dominated genre (Lil Wayne’s No Ceilings, Nicki Minaj’s Beam Me Up Scotty, and J. Cole’s The Warm Up also created noise at the time), but Drake’s ability to reach his female audience while still resonating with the masses was irrefutable. The somber tone of “Sooner Than Later,” sung in his lower register, perfectly conveys his efforts to reach an estranged lover before she’s gone for good. “The girl or the world? / They say someone gotta lose / I thought that I can have it all, do I really got to choose,” Drake ponders on the record.

In addition to lyrical content, Drake’s audacity to sing on heavily R&B-inspired tracks is unmatched. We saw that on “Houstatlantavegas”—possibly the genesis of his infatuation with strippers (“Hey there, pretty girl/You know, exactly what you got/And I don't blame you at all/You can't resist it/Especially when the lights so bright/And the money so right/And it's comin in every single night,” he crooned)—a seductive song that listens as an open love letter to a mysterious working girl. The romanticization of this woman is reminiscent of T-Pain’s 2005 single “In Luv With a Stripper,” but it seesawed back and forth between velvety refrains and confident bars that captured the allure in a way that felt both sexy and humanizing. The girl was no longer just a stripper, but one who dreamed of making it out of her hometown.

His singing may have seemed comparable to Kanye West, who had just released his predominantly auto-tuned album 808s & Heartbreak just a year before (Drizzy actually sampled Kanye’s “Say You Will” from the same album, flipping it to be a rap track). Even so, Drake dared to pair his vocals alongside talented voices within the R&B space, proving that he could sing just as much as he could rap. “A Night Off” was an incredibly bold and ambitious move. Drake had cojones to pair his sensuous crooning with the high notes of a certified songbird like Lloyd, but somehow it worked. This was the vulnerability that would give him his “Heartbreak Drake” persona, and he won for it.

While his vulnerability would be his gateway into the industry, Drake wanted to remind fans that he was still very much a rapper and a force to be reckoned with. In comparison to “A Night Off,” Drizzy flexed his flows on “Successful,” while Trey Songz held down the chorus. The materialism that was an undeniable 2009 rap music theme stood on the forefront as the eerie harmony led into Songz’s hook, fully encapsulating the desperation of a rookie attempting to overcome struggles and bolster from nothing to everything.

A seasoned Drake would surely not equate his success to simply h*es and cars, but its message, while simple, was honest and provided insight into a naïve conversation on what fame meant to a newcomer. Drake went harder on “Uptown,” though. The rapper had no choice to flex cocky bars over the Boi-1da-produced beat in order to keep up with its A-list features, Lil Wayne and Bun B.

This reminder of Drake The Rapper was also prevalent in his sampling. He demonstrated his understanding of hip-hop’s rich history on songs like “November 18th,” where DJ Screw provided the perfect assist with a chopped and screwed sample of Kris Kross’ “Da Streets Ain’t Right” (which also borrowed from Notorious B.I.G’s 1994 single, “Warning”). Although the track held a lot of weight in its instrumentals, Drizzy forged his own story by illustrating the day Lil Wayne called him, which in turn changed the course of his fate. Likewise, a purely-rapping-no-hook Drake over Jay-Z's original “Ignorant Sh*t” on his version, “Ignant Sh*t,” is quite nice. Yes, breaking away from the usual blueprint of breaks and harmonious choruses makes it teeter on the exhausting side, but the song’s lyrical content was a time capsule of the last decade (“Rest in peace to Heath Ledger, but I’m no Joker”).

The entirety of So Far Gone set the pace for Drake’s career in the years to come, but the tape’s final track, “The Calm,” foreshadowed his position in the landscape of hip-hop the most. “Leader of the new school, it’s proven and it’s known / I’m sitting in a chair, but in the future it’s a throne,” he prophesied. The electronic and muffled beat leads in to Drake’s reflection about a sense of alienation in the industry and his personal life that surely has continued well into the 2010s. While he is now one of the most commercially sought after talents in pop culture, his artistry has often been questioned by his musical peers. But even then, like the song said, Drake has always known that things were going to work out in his favor: “Everything will be okay and it won’t even take that long.”

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Singer Drake arrives at the 2009 American Music Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on November 22, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.
Jason Merritt

What Toronto's Music Scene Thinks Of Drake’s 2009 Breakout Mixtape “So Far Gone”

One of hip-hop's foundational principles is repping your city, but it means something more when you have a hometown that is rarely recognized in the landscape. When Drake released his breakout mixtape So Far Gone in 2009, his hometown of Toronto had already been a hotbed for hip-hop talent, but despite the success of acts like Kardinal Offishall and K'naan, no acts had reached true superstardom in the United States. That all ended with Drake: "Best I Ever Had" peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, and he had star power from Lil Wayne  in his corner. Just like that, Drake had become the most popular rapper in Canada's history.

"Best I Ever Had" launched a record-breaking, unprecedented streak of 431 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100. Since his 2009 classic, Drake has become the biggest international hip-hop star ever - and with his annual OVO Fest, a nickname like 6 God (Toronto is often referred to as "The Six," because of the city's 416 area code and the six municipalities that combined to make up Toronto in 1998), and the success of other Torontonians, he's brought his city with him.

VIBE spoke to six people involved in, or who evolved with, Toronto’s music scene about what the project means for the city a decade later.

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When they ask for free beats 🤨

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T-Minus

Producer of Nicki Minaj’s “Moment For Life,” Kendrick Lamar’s “Swimming Pools,” and Drake’s “HYFR” “I remember appreciating the sonic value of the project. Everything felt like a solid body of work. The records felt seamless. Records on that album even inspired my production, even a couple years later. There was definitely something special about the album. It's really one of the first tapes that brought a lot of attention to Toronto. It really molded an identity that the city still holds.”

 

 

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Last night! L.A. met Toronto. Remix's very own @gavatista in convo w/ @mizzlesupervsn on brand development + creative process 📷: @7thkind Hosted by @thecreatorclass🙏 #remixgang #getmoneymakechange

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Gavin Sheppard

Founder of The Remix Project, a Toronto-based program to help level the playing field for young people from disadvantaged, marginalized and underserved communities who are trying to enter into the creative industries or further their formal education

“I feel like So Far Gone was received with open arms by the city. People were looking for something to rally behind and identify with. Everything was changing. Methods of distribution and sharing information were further opening up and people were trying to find/describe an identity for Toronto. So Far Gone helped do that in a way that was inclusive.

I feel the entire city was listening to that project when it dropped. Anyone that knew music, knew that that body of work was special, because it was special as a body of work. It was a cohesive project that welcomed people into an intimate world that hadn’t yet been explored in pop culture.

“Best I Ever Had” helped propel Drake to stardom. The ease and fun of the record had such an irrepressible energy. Production was brilliant and Drake was flawless there in delivering vulnerability with an unfiltered confidence. That said, to me, “Brand New” is really what opened the floodgates for Drake and changed everything, though. That’s the record I remember Toronto first really truly embracing and championing, then “Best I Ever Had” took it global. That speaks to Drake’s career a lot since. Confidently walking a line between brutal honesty and tongue in cheek fun, dominating pop culture while maintaining just enough “outsider” status and incisive personal commentary to remain cool and stay relevant.

Drake’s music has always felt very human to me. And that’s about the highest compliment I can pay an artist. ‘Cause what are we doing if not trying to express who we are, what we are doing here and explain the maelstrom or emotions we all have to navigate without a real map? Music is our compass and Drake’s courage allowed for us to honestly examine ourselves, and we love him for that.

It expanded Toronto’s urban cultural identity from being heavily Caribbean-influenced to encompassing the Caribbean identity while also becoming inclusive of so many different experiences. And that allowed so many new voices to participate authentically in this new emerging movement that before were trying to find their footing. It allowed for a city to stop rocking NY fitteds and to start rocking Blue Jays or the Owl. So Far Gone helped give identity and pride. It made people from here, proud to be Torontonian. It made others want to visit and see what the city was all about. Musically it influenced so many of North America’s top creatives today. Culturally, it put Toronto on the map and cracked America (and the world’s) curiosity enough to start a trickle and then a flood of deserving Canadian talent streaming into the global market today.”

 

 

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Something from Nothing. Appreciate all the love and support from everyone I love and support ✨

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Neenyo

Producer of PARTYNEXTDOOR’s “Sex On The Beach,” “Things And Such / Kehlani’s Freestyle,” “Freak In You,” and Drake and Future’s “Plastic Bag” 

“I’d met and known Drake a little earlier from when he had just left Degrassi and that’s when we started working together. So, for me, I was always eager for people to discover how great he is, I just had no idea how big and monumental that intro would be. The hour it dropped I remember Solange and Kid Cudi tweeting it and that’s when I knew his reach and path. We all knew it was special, the world knew it was special. He took risks singing and making songs like no one was to stand out and prove he was creatively more forward than everyone. Before this project, I felt like he was proving he could out rap everyone at a time when everyone was listening to Little Brother. Now he was just proving he could make songs at the level of the best out and have fun while doing it.

Fortunately, our city isn’t swayed by how popular or how much money someone makes; it’s just about how good you are. Everyone took notice very quick that a shift just happened. He also skipped past all the politics and did everything outside the traditional industry system which was a big deal. Drake was the first big artist that might not need a label, which was unheard of at the time.

I remember Boi-1da hitting me on MSN messenger the first week “Best I Ever Had” entered the Top 200 Billboard charts. It must’ve been around No. 80, same time I had a my first No. 1 album on the charts. We were so young and just so hyped and congratulating each other for these “milestones.” Seems crazy now to think of Drake not on the charts.

I feel like what has it done for music, for how people put together rollouts, for songwriting and storytelling? It was pivotal in giving way to Partynextdoor and The Weeknd, and what would music sound like without those three?”

 

 

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Jazz Cartier

Recording artist “I remember being in school in Connecticut when it dropped, refreshing OVO’s Blogspot and it was late by like an hour or something. Had me trippin’. (Laughs) The cover alone let me know this was gonna be something different. “Love and Money” was almost like you can’t have both and find happiness. The moment I heard “Lust for Life,” it felt like Toronto.

If you had any sense in your body you knew what was about to happen. For a lot of people So Far Gone was their introduction to Drake. For me, seeing the growth from Room For Improvement to Comeback Season then So Far Gone, it just felt like he honed in on his sound. N***as were putting out mixtapes, but Drake presented a mixtape that sounded better than any album out. What he did is bridged all sides of the blog era on one project—Lykke Li, Santigold, Lil Wayne, Omarion, Lloyd and Bun B. (Laughs) Like, how does that happen and not come off forced? That’s also Toronto in nutshell.

I can’t speak for everybody, but as an aspiring artist I think it meant the world to a lot of us. When I finally went back in March you couldn’t escape it. So Far Gone is the blueprint to the Toronto sound. I modeled my first mixtape, Marauding in Paradise, after it. It gave kids like myself hope that somebody who did the same sh*t as us can take things to the next level. We always had it harder coming from Toronto and breaking into America. Fast forward 10 years later and a lot of the biggest records, artists and producers have come from Toronto. It was bound to happen eventually, but SFG changed the way the world saw Toronto as a city.”

 

 

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Lola Plaku

Owner of Lola Media Group, a full service digital, artist management, and artist marketing agency “I think we all live in bubbles at times, work, school, family, etc. and the Toronto music industry was its own bubble. People made music and moves within that bubble and that felt like enough. Drake burst that bubble. So speaking strictly from the perspective of someone who was not just a fan or a regular consumer, I saw it both ways. I saw the dismay it caused among people who were not expecting this type of support for him, but I also saw how excited people were of the ceilings Drake was about to break. Once the tape dropped, it engulfed Toronto and music fans everywhere really. Everyone became a Drake fan.

From 2004 until about 2009 I used to write for HipHopCanada. I was the editor during that time as well, so I was very much aware of all the music coming out of the city and other parts of Canada. There were a few artists that had already created a wave for Canadian rap, ones that we all respected and admired. Then was a new group of artists; we were all in the scene together, coming up together in a way. Drake was just coming up then (2005-2007). He was focusing on his music career outside of his TV work, and he was a part of this new group as well. By the time So Far Gone dropped, he had already gained the support of local media, radio, tastemakers, but the drop of that project was like a tsunami hit the city (musically) and changed the landscape forever. What was coming across my desk at that point was mainly rap, just rap. Artists imitating the sound of what was coming out of New York or Atlanta or whatever, which didn’t really break south of the border. Drake offered something different, something everyone could bop their heads to, or relate to. He wasn’t just a “Toronto rapper.” I remember traveling outside of the country and hearing songs like “Houstalantavegas” or “Uptown,” or “Best I Ever Had” or “Successful” and thinking, “this is someone from my city these people are all listening to.” It felt like an extension of all of us. Honestly, it was an unparalleled feeling.

There was something special about it. People were playing the project in its entirety, not just one song or two songs. Kids everywhere wanted to be a part of the movement, wear the gear, etc. That’s when you know someone is not just making great music, they are creating a legacy.

This project allowed Drake to soar. Drake not only as an individual, but as a business, created incredible opportunities for Canadian artists. He sparked a conversation, and that conversation was, “Where did this sound come from? Who was a part of it? Are there others like him? Who else have we overlooked from this city?” And so, Toronto got on the map. People were checking for our artists and it felt good. Because now, Canadian artists can finally direct the conversation not just aspire to be a part of it.

This is not about So Far Gone but about “Replacement Girl,” the song Drake dropped with Trey Songz in 2007 from Comeback Season. I remember I was in Atlanta with a few other friends from Toronto when the video dropped. And I remember it came on BET in the middle of the day, I think it was Joint of the Day or something like that. And we all screamed like it was our video on TV. We recognized the people in the video. My friend Neeks was a dancer in it, we were like, “Yooooo, that’s our people!” It was the first time a Canadian artist of my era had been on BET, or just any U.S. media platform, and I was in the U.S. watching this, with my Canadian friends. I think we all called our friends like, “Oh my God, you’re on TV in America!!” How crazy is that? Now Canadian artists make up for a huge percentage of Billboard and Top 40 charts and No. 1 hits.”

 

 

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Jessie Reyez

Recording artist “A lot of people f**ked with it but there were also a lot of haters that underestimated Drake because of his career as an actor. Screwface capital. It was something that was coming out of the city that was able to achieve global attention. I remember hearing “Best I Ever Had” on the radio when I was living out in Florida and thinking, “Damn, a Toronto kid on the radio out here. Dope.”

I think it’s done a lot [for the city]. The Drake effect is something that’s very real. There were artists before him that laid down the foundation in the city; artists that were and are incredibly talented, that built this early hip-hop culture in Toronto. I think what Drake did was be able to grow beyond that and solidify a foundation for a long career, not just in Canada, but worldwide. A career that’s obviously stood the test of time. So Far Gone was the beginning in many ways for the rest of the world to embrace a part of our culture and city.”

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