It’s hard to find a rapper who doesn’t fall into the predictable traps of the genre. Popular radio hip-hop albums drip with boasts of diamonds and champagne or the dope-smoking gangster ideals of outpacing police; Young Mass (real name Derrick Lee Stanton, Jr.) melds many recent innovations from the rap game, including tightly packed keyboarding and programming, but leaves the fur coat and yacht clichés alone.
Young Mass (aka, Fifth Element), for a time the youngest member of the rap and hip-hop collective Digital Underground, moved from Chicago to San Diego when he was 10.
At the 2003 “Gutfest” in Mission Bay Park, Digital Underground producer and performer Shock G (aka, Humpty Hump of “The Humpty Dance”) discovered the 16-year-old. “It was the first time I heard his jam ‘Down in Diego,’” says Shock G. “We must’ve blasted it out the ride about ten times that day, and it sounded fresh every time.”
Shock G included Young Mass on two tracks of his 2004 CD Fear of a Mixed Planet: “Cherry Flava’d E-mail” and “Hold Me Down Up.” Young Mass has shared the stage with George Clinton, Tone-Loc, and Mopreme Shakur. His self-titled CD was released in early 2008.
By summer 2008, Young Mass announced that he was mad (as in angry, not wacko). “I can’t take this disrespect from none of them stick up the ass Aftermath niggas,” says the local hip-hop artist. He’s talking about one-time collaborators Dr. Dre and Dre’s studio staff at Aftermath Entertainment. “Karma swings around, regardless of who a muthafucka is. Dre, Jay-Z, Pac, Big, them, me, whoever. Every label has felt the karma for being on top and treating niggas like shit.”
Mass took part in recording sessions at the Aftermath studio, for Dre’s new album Detox. Keith Woods at Massterpiece Entertainment says Mass is angry about “the disrespect Dr. Dre and the Aftermath staff showed for Mass’ musicianship.” Mass got to know Dre during his three years of employment at Dre’s Rockhardbody gym in Woodland Hills.
“After his employment at the exclusive yet troubled business,” says Woods, “Mass was invited into Aftermath’s studio…After laying down some of his best lyrical work, Mass was unexplainably blackballed from the studio.”
That’s not all Mass is mad about. According to Woods, “Many of Mass’ masters are being bogarted by several studios he recorded at over his five-year recording career with Digital Underground. Various songs had to be withheld from Mass’ self-titled debut album, do to the poor quality of the copies in Mass’ possession.”
In addition, “Mass is also perplexed at why he has not been receiving royalties and/or proper credit for work on several projects including his production work on the Sex and the Studio XXX DVD series, and 25 to Life video game soundtracks.”
When not mad or perplexed, there is one thing that makes Mass happy. Rap impresario Marion “Suge” Knight came to San Diego’s downtown club Aubergine on May 1, 2008, to talk with Mass about possibly executive-producing Mass’ next album.
Mass says a follow-up meeting with Knight was scheduled in L.A., to discuss his career contentions, but the meeting was delayed after Knight’s altercation at a Hollywood nightclub May 10 that left him bloodied and laying on a sidewalk. Says Mass, “If my big homie Suge can lend me some assistance on these issues, and the new album, my skills will handle the rest.”
In 2008, Mass' debut album received a nomination for Best Hip-Hop Album at the San Diego Music Awards. In early 2009, his song "Emotions" was chosen for the Jake Records compilation CD Westside Bugg Presents: The Best Of The West. The album features collaborations with Bugg and various west coast artists he's worked with, including San Diego's own Jayo Felony as well as Digital Underground, Numskull, and others. A video for "Emotions" was shot in Reno, Nevada in early 2009.
The debut solo album by B-Real (Cypress Hill), Smoke N Mirrors (Duck Down Records), features a song produced by Young Mass called "Get That Dough," featuring songstress Mimi. The song is a variation of Mass's track "On The Grind," from his self titled debut (which also featured Mimi on vocals).
In 2009, the Young Mass mix tape Uggly included an unreleased reference track, “Misery,” which Mass recorded for Dr. Dre’s long-unreleased album Detox, produced by a Huntington Beach producer named Cras Bangaz. Mass decided to release it after artists like Ludacris [“OG’s Theme”] and T.I. [“Coming Back”] leaked their own Detox reference tracks, after giving up on Detox ever seeing the light of day.
In summer 2010, Mass (unofficially) wrote and recorded a theme song for the famously unreleased video game Starcraft: Ghost, originally announced for a 2002 debut. “Stop Playin” is about the psychic espionage operative star, Annabella ‘Nova’ Terra, aka Agent 12-862, a sexy female ghost.
Young Mass’s song places Nova in fictional San Diego locales like Mitchy’s Clack Clack, a Southeast bar named for local hip-hop hero Mitchy Slick and referenced as serving the best Framberry drinks in the Starcraft universe. “We’ve had no interaction with the game company, [but] the game and Nova have a cool cult following that we are intent on keeping alive.”
In 2011, he reinvented himself somewhat by dropping the ‘Young’ and just going by ‘Mass.’ The 24-year-old was arrested new Las Vegas on January 27, 2011, for first-degree kidnapping, one count of using coercion and/or force, and a domestic violence charge of battery. All charges are pending investigation.
The arrest stems from an incident involving a woman who appeared in Mass’s video for “They Aint Gon’ Last,” the first single (via Island Def Jam Digital) from his planned album Carnage 2012. The brunette is seen in the video singing a repeating chorus about “a million dollars” and “fighting like Rottweilers,” while accepting an envelope stuffed with money.
Lyrics include Mass rapping, “Had that ass screaming like I whipped it with a pistol, she hit me with the info, text me, ‘Baby, I’m a nympho.’”
Mass was previously arrested in Las Vegas in early 2010, reportedly on a domestic issue and for giving false information to the police. The rapper’s Las Vegas kidnapping charge, which would have carried a sentence of five years to life, was dropped in favor of a domestic violence conviction.
Released from the Las Vegas jail on January 6, 2012, Mass returned to San Diego, used a BMI check to buy new equipment, and began recording new music. His 18-song mixtape Sniper on the Roof was released in May 2012.