Last Sunday, rappers Ma$e and Cam’ron took to Instagram to announce that they were still good and their recent beef and accompanying disses had been (apparently) just for sport. That night, however, Ma$e went on Funkmaster Flex’s Instagram and appeared to contradict that claim, alleging that he and Cam’ron were “not cool,” and that he had simply shaken Cam’s hand as an act of respect to the opponent he defeated. The next morning, Ma$e called in to Ebro in the Morning, to say his diss was legit and not intended as playful.
These antics were simply the latest stage in a feud that has continued on-and-off for the better part of 20 years.
Back in the early 1990’s Cam and Ma$e were just Cameron Giles and Mason Betha, two high school friends in Harlem, both starters on the Manhattan Center High School basketball team (earning 2nd place in the NYC High School basketball finals). In 1993, they joined Big L in the group Children of the Corn, adopting the names Murda Mase and Killa Cam. Along with fellow members Bloodshed and Herb McGruff, the group recorded several mixtapes. They broke up after the deaths of Bloodshed and Big L in 1997 and 1999.
In 1997, Ma$e changed his monicker and signed with Bad Boy Records, releasing the album Harlem World, which went platinum and earned a grammy nomination.
The next year, Cam (now Cam’ron) signed to Sony Music and dropped his debut album Confessions of Fire, featuring Ma$e on two tracks. Cam then asked Ma$e to be in the video for “Horse & Carriage,” but Ma$e said his appearance would cost $50k, and Cam refused to pay.
Ma$e released a follow-up album, 1999’s Double Up, before quitting the rap game and going to Atlanta to become a preacher.
Cam left Sony/Epic in 2001, following the release of S.D.E., and joined JAY-Z’s Roc-A-Fella Records. With Roc-A-Fella’s teamof Kanye West and Just Blaze behind the boards, Cam had his breakthrough album, Come Home With Me, in ‘02. On the track “Welcome to New York City,” Cam takes the first shots at Ma$e, rapping “Hot here, ask Mase he ran to Atlanta,” alleging that Ma$e went south to preach because he could not handle the danger of New York and its competitive rap scene.
In 2003, Cam’ron formed his group The Diplomats (also called Dipset). The next year, after writing a book about his experiences, Ma$e returned to rapping with Welcome Back. On the same day, Dipset member Jim Jones released his debut album, On My Way to Church, a direct shot at Ma$e, with a Ma$e diss as the title track.
While on the Hot 97 Morning Show promoting Welcome Back, Ma$e discussed why he left Children Of the Corn and his relationship with Cam’ron, saying that he felt insulted by Cam when he refused to pay Ma$e for involvement in the music video. Jones and Cam called in, throwing insults and allegations at the former preacher. Jones claimed that he and Cam left Ma$e after Ma$e didn’t pay them for participation in his tour; then Jones threatened to kill him. Cam then accused Ma$e of lying in his book, and of being a hypocrite for saying rap is the devil in his sermons, but actively being in the rap industry.
Several months later, Cam’ron released Purple Haze, which included the Ma$e diss “Take ‘Em to Church,” with the jabs “He wasn’t welcome in the first place, how we welcome him back?” and “This my call by the false prophet, all profit / Harlem hustler, I can’t at all knock it / But you hard when you go in the lord pockets?”
In 2005, Ma$e joined 50 Cent’s G-Unit. On the track “I Don’t Know Officer,” from the soundtrack to Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, he threw more shots at Dipset, rapping “I don’t know why Loon and Fabby won’t just say I’m they daddy / Why them Harlem CB4 niggas just keep comin’ at me.”
However, by 2009, Cam and Ma$e had resolved their conflict enough for Ma$e to shoutout Dipset and give a heartfelt apology to Cam and Jim Jones while on DJ Self’s show on Power 105.1.
The next year however, Ma$e was absent from Hud 6’s funeral, which angered Cam enough to say “yo, fuck Ma$e” in a tribute freestyle, and bring up the subject again in 2012 on Jim Jones’s song “60 racks.” Cam then said in a radio interview that he and Ma$e had been out of contact for several years. After that, the issue went quiet.
Which brings us to the present day. In November, Cam’ron released The Program, his first mixtape in 2 years, lead off by the song “It’s Killa.” In the first verse, Cam details a time when he had to rescue Ma$e from a sticky situation involving a girl and her boyfriend: “Then Ma$e called, said ‘Yo, I’m stuck inside some bitches house’ / Her boyfriend at the door, could I hurry up and get him out.” After being rescued, Ma$e is unfazed, which upset Cam enough to make him tell Ma$e to leave, thinking “Let me curve this nigga ‘fore I end up killing him.”
Ma$e took offense to Cam’s threats of bodily harm, even though the event described was ancient history by this point, enough that it troubled him for days straight. Ma$e was so consumed with rage that after attending the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, he sent his family home and spent the rest of the day in the studio to cut “The Oracle,” a viscious diss track firing shot after shot at Cam, using the beat from “Blueprint2,” the famous diss track by Cam’s former boss JAY-Z. The lyrics speak for themself: “In 2002 you lost 50 pounds, ulcers in your liver / And now you tryna sell niggas liquor? NIGGA,” “Ever since 10 you was a thirsty nigga / I ain’t gon’ talk about the time you fucked your sister,” and “After that 50 shit you moved to Orlando / You had that nigga Jim on the radio, where did Cam go?” which references Dipset’s beef with 50 Cent’s G-Unit, as well as Cam notoriously running away when Jim Jones got jumped in 2006.
Cam’ron responded only three days later, with the track “Dinner Time.” It opens with a sample from a sermon, referencing Ma$e’s time as a pastor. Cam fires back, “You done opened up a door, I’m petty, ready for war / I ain’t got a sister, only sister I fucked was yours.” He follows up by alleging that Ma$e’s stunt as a pastor was simply for the money, rapping “Said ‘Cam, become a deacon, them deacons be getting money’” and “Collection plate money in his pocket, he a klepto-.”
Incredulously, the next day, the rappers were on Instagram calling a truce and hugging it out. But that night, Ma$e went on Funkmaster Flex and Ebro in the Morning, and announcing all was not cool but declaring the feud was dead as he had officially won.
At this point, the beef has been going on for so long that it is impossible to label one rapper responsible. The bad blood isn’t going away any time soon, if ever. Neither rapper’s behavior in this saga has been predictable, consistent, or even logical. It really seems to be a battle of egos: neither rapper can stand to accept a loss, so they just keep throwing shots.
However, both Cam and Ma$e have been in the game for over 20 years at this point, and neither of them have been relevant this decade. Ma$e hasn’t even dropped an album since 2004. If taking offense at a seemingly mild line and reviving a 20-year-old beef was his attempt at getting some level of publicity, it certainly worked. These disses and comments made major news, and likely exposed many rap fans to these artists for the first time.
Credits: HipHop DX, Complex News, Mass Appeal, Revolt
Images: GQ, I MISS THE OLD SCHOOL, Complex