Bad Boy rapper Mase has announced that he is retiring from music in order to follow God.

In a statement released yesterday by Mase's management firm, Magic Johnson Music, the rapper said the decision is "effective immediately" and that he would only do spoken-word engagements to promote his new album, "Double Up," due out on June 15.

Only time will tell if Mase's retirement from music is permanent, or if it's of the short-term variety favored by such rappers as Puffy and Jay-Z. Both rappers have previously announced their intent to quit the business, only to take back the decision later.

When Chris Connelly talked to Mase and his manager, former NBA star Magic Johnson, backstage at the Soul Train Music Awards last month, the duo had a very different perspective on the rapper's future career path.

"I want to help Mase reach his goals," Johnson said, "and I just sit in the back and let him do his thing. Watch out for 'Double Up,' because we're gonna rock the world. Then he's gonna go on tour, Mase is, and then you'll see what we're talkin' about. It's a new Mase now, smilin', happy. He's been offered four or five movie parts already, two deals with TV, already people want to do deals with him. This guy is gettin' ready to blow up."

"How are you going to manage all that time this summer?" Connelly asked Mase. "Where are you going to put your energy?"

"I'm gonna put my energy everywhere," Mase said, "because now I've got the energy to do it."

Though Mase says he will no longer be making music or doing any concert performances, he will continue to be involved with charity events aimed at helping inner-city youth.

Hailing the beginning of the end of Mase's rap career is "Get Ready," the first single off of his final album, which also features a guest appearance from Teddy Riley and Blackstreet.