For many of us, Percy Miller, better known as Master P, needs no introduction. As the founder, president and a platinum-selling rapper at No Limit Records, Master P created a blueprint for crow-barring himself, his family and his comrades away from the impoverished grips of New Orleans’s notorious Calliope Projects during a time when rap was an East or West Coast thing. Back then, there was no swagged-out Dirty South in serious contention, just a few scrappy pioneers.
But Master P’s grind was relentless. From the late 1990s through early 2000s, No Limit churned out music at record speeds, including his own albums Ice Cream Man and Make Em Say Uhh. To date, the No Limit catalogue—packed with hits from Mystikal, Snoop Dogg, Mia X, his brothers Vyshonne King “Silkk the Shocker” Miller and Corey “C-Murder” Miller, and more—has sold an estimated 75 million records.
On top of that, Master P had the audacity to dabble in films (I’m Bout It, Foolish, I Got the Hookup) and other industries. His hustle garnered him Forbes list honors in 1998. And, today, he remains among hip-hop’s wealthy elite. Still it’s Solange Knowles who has got Romeo Miller’s dad buzzing right now. Her critically acclaimed album A Seat at the Table, which features Master P dropping jewels on his rise, economic independence and loving self, has topped the Billboard 200 album chart. It’s also put her in good company, as she is one of the few artists to have a number one album just like their sibling. Who else is on the exclusive list besides Solo and Bey? Michael and Janet, and Master P and Silkk the Shocker.
EBONY.com caught up with the NOLA great at A3C, the annual hip-hop conference and festival in Atlanta, where he was a featured guest and performed with his squad, including his newest group, the No Limit Boys.
EBONY.com: What were your initial thoughts when Solange reached out to you?
Master P: I mean I was all in. You know Solange is my baby.
EBONY.com: So you guys had already known each other?
Master P: Yeah we’ve been knowing each other a while. We’re like family. I had a house in Houston. So I always wanted to see her win. She reminds me of my daughter. My daughter Cymphonique is a hard worker and sometimes you don’t get your just due and I feel like Solange, until now, she wasn’t getting that. People was just looking at her like her music was different, it’s soulful, and people got caught up into that. She wanted to be natural. People didn’t give her a chance. I think now the music is good. I tell people all the time who like to be in the music business you got to have a hit record. I tell these guys [the No Limit Boys] all the time we’re not in the music business until we have a hit record. I think Solange has arrived now; she has a hit record.
EBONY.com: Speaking of the music business, do you feel that you get your due?
Master P: I don’t need to get my due; I get my money. I’m in it for the money, baby, I’m telling you. They don’t have to give me my just due. They don’t have to give me no trophies. They don’t have to do that. I want to be able to take care of my family. I don’t do this for fame. This is my job. I want to get paid for doing my job and whoever don’t like it or whoever don’t give me my just due then that’s on them. Most of the people don’t get their just due until they ain’t here no more.
EBONY.com: Was it special to come to A3C where you had a standing room only audience to hear you speak?
Master P: Yeah it’s definitely special. Atlanta is a big market for me. They’ve always supported my music. They took care of my people during Hurricane Katrina, so I love them and I love my fans. And to be able to help and motivate the next generation, I feel like this is the place to do it.
Also, I want them to see me grow up. I’m not the same person that I used to be. So I feel like it’s okay for us to grow up because a lot of us want to get rich and die young. I want to get rich and die old.
EBONY.com: Do you think that message of hope is very important?
Master P: Oh yeah it is. Think about it. Look at how young Tupac died. Who really told Tupac how great he was back then? You imagine if Tupac was still around right now people would be like, ‘Oh man, he’s a has-been.’ Let’s be honest. We don’t take rap serious the way other cultures take rock-n-roll, they take country. They artists are being loved. People still love Willie Nelson no matter what he been through. They are praising him like he’s the greatest. We wait until our people are gone to say how great they are.
EBONY.com: You spoke of investing in the hood and how the hood put you on. Do you think that once people get to your level they forget about where they came from and the importance of economically empowering their own community?
Master P: I think people lose focus. I tried not to lose focus. I didn’t get into it for that. I feel like God blessed me to be successful and to have a couple of more things that a lot of people of where I come from didn’t have or didn’t see, but it ain’t always about me. It’s about empowering the next generation so that’s what I love doing.
EBONY.com: So then what’s the difference now in the game with the No Limit Boys?
Master P: I feel like they have somebody like me that has the experience and been through something. I didn’t have that. I just had to bump my head. I had to try to figure it out. I probably spent more money trying to do things that I didn’t need to do. They not gone have to do that because they have somebody that’s been through that. They have a good coach so they just have to take advantage of that.
EBONY.com: Do you think Southern rappers are respected now?
Master P: By [No Limit] being able to sell 75 million records, they can’t do nothing but give us respect, and we did it independently. So they got to respect Southern culture when it comes to hip-hop. I’m not the very first. Luke Skywalker came before me. Lil J with Rap-a-Lot came before me, but I was able to do something else financially to change the game to where people have to respect that, knowing that we’re not just artists anymore. We are actually making money from this.
EBONY.com: No Limit was really peddling hope to people. Do you feel that love now?
Master P: Yeah I definitely feel it because now my fans are older and they understand how to appreciate me the same way I appreciate them for being there for me.
Ronda Racha Penrice, a Chicago native residing in Atlanta, is the author of African American History For Dummies. Follow her on Twitter @rondaracha.