Music is an international language that defies barriers. As a young kid in Gabon, Africa, Mase became a fan of Snoop without knowing English. So when Snoop would affectionately refer to women as “bitches,” Mase rapped along, thinking Snoop was just a beach lover.
After moving to the US, rediscovering music in California and Miami, it was a known fact that he would surround his life in music. Unlike many others, he didn’t have the dream of being the one holding the mic. Mase wanted to be behind the scenes—taking artists to the next level. Starting out as a producer, he incorporated sounds from every culture he’s gotten a chance to experience—African, European and American—creating a foundation for his sound. Determined to be his own boss, DMS Entertainment was born.
Today, Mase is a busy, busy man—making his musical dreams his reality, but he took some time out to chit chat with Chronic about his two artists, his love of music and why he’ll never change his name – even though he obviously shares it.
What are you up to right now? What’s going on?
I’m working on my two artists’ albums. I have two artists on my label, DMS Entertainment. I’m a producer. I’ve been producing for a minute, but the music industry is so complicated, so I decided on [creating my own company]. Back in the days, I would make beat CD’s and try to go to the clubs…but things didn’t really work the way I thought it was going to work, so I decided, instead of chasing people, why not get out there and try to produce for them – take them to the next level? That’s what I’m doing. I’ve been working with a girl from Guyana. Her name is Camille and it’s been about two years now. She [is] about to drop an album…Two of the first singles [are] produced by me….I’ve just been focusing on giving tracks to my artists.
What kind of sound would you say you’re bringing?
What I bring is something different. I’m from Africa.
Oh yeah, you’re from Gabon, right?
The western music influences me. I used to live in France for 7-8 years. Everything that I do sounds different. Everybody always tells me that. It doesn’t sound like what everybody does. [It has] a vibe of Europe, Africa and the United States together.
Do you feel you take things you learn from the cultures you’ve experienced and incorporate those things into your music?
Yes, kind of. That’s what everybody is saying. The guy that mixes my songs [knows] it’s me because I don’t have the drums. You can feel that it’s from the islands. The melody would be something you’d hear in Europe. There’s a lot of different things inside me. I live in Miami and I get exposed to American music. It’s a blend of different things. If you’re a chef, you cook with different spices. That’s the same thing. I try to be a chef and create something different in my music.
When and how did you decide that music was something you wanted to do?
I didn’t decide. It was something I was always trying to deny. Since I’ve been little, I’ve always loved music. I never saw myself really doing it. I got an opportunity to view a lot of big artists in Europe and when I went to the radio station for the first time to meet the artists, I really liked it. When I came to the U.S., I came to California and was exposed again to music. When I moved to Miami, I really started getting involved with it. I am still doing it today.
What made you start your company and what have you been able to learn with it?
My label—DMS Entertainment—I have it because I think I can bring something different to the world. I have different artists. I am in control of what I do and no one else is controlling it. I don’t like being told what to do. Everybody wants to be the only boss.
What I have learned…You have a lot of people that are all talk and you have a lot of people that if you invest your money, they try and take your money and run. You have to be careful who you work with, who you talk to. People talk too much and they’re not about business…I’ve been on different roads where people tell me if I do something for them, they’ll do something for me and you realize they’re not providing what they do. Right now—thank God—I’ve met some people that are about business and have helped my company grow. It cost me a lot of money too, [laughs] but it helped me grow.
You were saying you had some artists signed. Are those the only people you’re working with right now?
Right now, yes. I am only working with Alexandra and Camille. Alexandra is from Miami and she did American Idol, Pop Star and all that good stuff. I’m about to sign another artist in a little bit, but I’m not going to say anything about her.
What do you look for when you sign artists?
If I think I can bring them to the top—to another level…I love to be in the studio working with artists, recording and producing. I am almost done with the two projects and I want to have something else to work on. I want to have somebody different. I have a lot of people working with me to take those projects to the next level. When I first started, I didn’t know too much about music. Now, [I have] different people do different things, so I don’t have to put my mind on how do I get to radio, to the TV. Those are things that are being handled. It’s less pressure on me.
Your name—Mase—is already pretty popular in the music world…
Yes, I heard. Everybody thinks that I’m the rapper Mase. When I was young, playing basketball with my friend in Africa, we all had dreams to go to the NBA. They all said my name was too hard for Americans to say. My last name is Maseumba and the rapper wasn’t even around at the time. We didn’t even know who he was. We tried to shorten my name and make it sound American…When the rapper came around, people that knew me, knew my name was Mase, not because of him. I like the name and I kept it. To me, it doesn’t matter because there’s a lot of people here with the same name. I’m not changing it because of him. A lot of people on Myspace send me messages thinking I’m Mase. We don’t even look alike.
You’d rather deal with all of that, rather than get a different name?
No. I thought about changing it, but people know me already by that name. Why would I change? He’s the Mase from America and I’m the Mase from Africa.
I know you went to school to pursue International Relations. What made you choose that? What are you using degree that for?
Well, I came to the U.S. to study first. I did my study. It’s complicated. I love politics and music. Since I was a little kid, I’ve always loved both. I’m a dedicated person. I watch the news and politics. I know what’s going on. Some people cannot read between the lines and know what they’re saying. I know what they’re saying and at the same time I love music. I think there’s a time for politics and I don’t think the time has come for me to do something like that. I’m not interested in that, I just want to do music and have a clothing line and have different businesses.
Is there anything you’re trying to use your degree for or no?
Right now, no. My degree is something that I can use one day. No one can take that away from me. It’s something that I have and that I am proud of.
Where can we find your company, your artists and you…online?
Is there anyone in the industry that you admire and would love to work with?
Shakira. My favorite artist is Snoop. He’s someone I liked since I was in Africa and I didn’t even know what he was rapping about… Him and Shakira are the artists I really want to work with.