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Double Up

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Ma$e’s recent announcement that he is abandoning hip-hop to follow God casts a bittersweet poignancy over Double Up, the New York rapper’s second solo album. It’s anyone’s guess whether his unexpected career move will reveal him to be the next Kirk Franklin or merely Reverend Run redux, but his purported last will and testament as a secular rapper showcases the 22-year-old star at the peak of his powers while explicitly laying out his reasons for bailing from the game. In the grand tradition of his mentor, Puff Daddy, Ma$e cannily packs his tracks with can’t-miss samples (Gary Numan’s ”Cars,” Shalamar’s ”A Night to Remember”) for maximum ear appeal. But it’s his words, delivered with chilling, methodical clarity, that cut deepest. His disenchantment with hip-hop hypocrisy is a recurring theme, and his holy dissatisfaction is wholly convincing. On ”Blood Is Thicker Than All This,” he renounces ”the cars, the clothes, the money and these hos” in favor of family values; the song winds down with a lengthy roll call of archetypal fair-weather friends, culminating with Ma$e digustedly proclaiming, ”Man, I ain’t gonna be screamin’ all these niggas’ names — I’m outta here.” Go in peace, bro. B+