Mase Raised in Harlem, New York, Mason Betha began his music career as a gangsta rapper. While in the proto-supergroup "Children of the Corn", he called himself Murder Mase, rapping alongside Big L, Cam'ron (then known as "Killa Kam"), McGruff and Bloodshed. In 1996, Mase travelled to Atlanta in hope of meeting producer Jermaine Dupri. Instead, he ran into Sean Combs and rapped for him on the spot in a nightclub. Puffy instantly signed Mase to Bad Boy records. His image was refined as Diddy set about developing a marketable pop rapper out of an artist formerly known for violent imagery in his lyrics.
That same year, Puffy put Mase into 112's Only You Remix which instantly showcased the young rappers talent. In 1997 Mase recorded and released his first album, Harlem World, which became a multiplatinum success, and featured the hit single "Feel So Good", which included a prominent sample of Kool & the Gang's "Hollywood Swinging" and the chorus from Miami Sound Machine's "Bad Boy". Other successful Harlem World singles included "What You Want" (featuring Total), "Lookin' At Me" (featuring Puff Daddy, produced by The Neptunes), and "24 Hours To Live" (featuring The Lox, Black Rob, & DMX). Notably popular among mainstream audiences, Mase became one of Bad Boy's premiere acts.