The "vengeful ghost" is a staple of many cultures across the world, yet the world of hip-hop has never seen such a figure emerge among its ranks… until now, that is. With his recent diss track "The Oracle," aimed at fellow New York legend Cam'ron, Ma$e has kicked 2017's most flaming and unexpected rap beef into high gear. It's filled with some frankly ludicrous claims against Cam ("I ain't gone talk about the time you fucked your sister") and truth be told, Ma$e sounds much younger than his years. Of course, if you use Jay-Z's Morricone-sampling "Blueprint 2" beat, you know that shit has gone Old Testament.
As reported by Genius, the story behind Ma$e's recording of this song is one that truly illustrates how pettiness and vengeance can drive an individual to forget all the things that normally care about, up to and including family.
It took me about an hour. I went in the studio on Thanksgiving. I went to the parade with my family and I was like, “Nah I can’t.” I don’t know if it was Hello Kitty or Charlie Brown or one of them, I just said “Nah, he can’t do that.” Somebody asked me about it at the parade and I was with my kids, but that’s New York for you. So I put them on a plane, sent them back home and then was like “Daddy’s gonna handle this.”
Imagine being so consumed by rage that you send your children to another part of the country just so you can get in the correct zone to lyrically annihilate an individual. Rap your heart out, Drake: this is what a real vendetta looks like.
Of course, some context is required. Ma$e and Cam'ron have been embroiled in squabbles since the late 90s, after the Harlemites split from their old group Children of the Corn then took diverging paths within the general Bad Boy/Ruff Ryders/Roc-a-Fella triad that dominated NYC at the turn of the millennium. Ma$e then retired from music to become a pastor, and a fumbled comeback in 2004 around the same time as Dipset's rise may have helped fuel this withering dig in Cam'ron's insane/brilliant gangster film Killa Season. The two then appeared on one incredibly dated song together in 2009, and it seemed that things were settled, but on this year's ramshackle but spirited mixtape The Program, Cam threatened to curve Ma$e before killing him on "It's Killa."
Now the beef is back on the menu, with Cam promising a response to "The Oath" in a typically cocky Instagram post. Look, the thing with a good beef is this: you have to let it sit, to let it stew in its own juices. This beef is something so ancient that it's practically fermented, meaning we may be in for nothing but the highest quality in conflict. Let us truly be thankful.
Phil is on Twitter.