Words Coby Kindles / Photo Tim Alexander
MASTER P 5 ESSENTIAL MASTER P TRACKS TRU “I’m Bout It, Bout It” True 1995 This song introduced a Southern street catchphrase later used across the nation by folk who really and truly don’t give a fuck. A classic for sure! Master P f/ UGK “Break ‘Em Off Somethin’” Ice Cream Man 1996 Virtually every No Limit/UGK collabo became a Southern classic, and this one contains one of Master P’s greatest verses: “Hustler, balla, gangsta, cap-peela, who I be? Yo’ neighborhood drug dealer!” C’mon, everyone knows that shit! Master P “Burbans & Lacs” Ghetto D 1997 A great ride-out song for Chevys all throughout the South. P’s shining moment: a solo record with a Beats by the Pound track so retarded he could do no wrong. Master P f/ No Limit Soldiers “Make Em Say Uhhh” Ghetto D 1997 Master P’s biggest hit to date made almost the entire No Limit roster into superstars. TRU “No Limit Soldiers” TRU 2 Da Game 1997 In living color gangsterisms over a wicked piano-driven beat with rattling 808s.
ercy Miller, a.k.a. Master P, found success with his underground label No Limit at a time when the music industry had begun to close its doors to gangsta rap. Masterminding many of the greatest commercial sensations of Southern music, he established an empire in the late 90’s and became one of the wealthiest Americans in the world. In 1990, using $10,000 he inherited from the death of his grandfather, he opened an independent record store in Richmond, California. He called it No Limit because there was no limit to his plans. Once he familiarized himself with the music industry as a retailer, P took his entrepreneurial savvy to the next level by becoming an entertainer and record label CEO. He began to build his fortune in 1991 with the creation of No Limit Records. He adopted an army tank as his logo and released his first album Get Away Clean and a second in 1992 entitled Mama’s Bad Boy. Both flopped, but P didn’t give up hope. Two years later, he released an underground CD called The Ghetto’s Tryin’ to Kill Me, which sold over 100,000 units independently. His next release, 99 Ways to Die, sold twice as many without major distribution. When major labels heard that P had sold over a quarter million records by himself, they approached him with record deals. He contracted with Priority Records to press and distribute his product, but remained sole proprietor and CEO of his label. “In order for me to stay true to myself and my company, I had to maintain complete creative control,” asserts P. When the deal was solidified with Priority in 1995, No Limit released TRU, adding P’s brothers Silkk the Shocker and C-Murder to the mix. Their album True sold over 400,000 units with the hit “Bout It, Bout It.” The No Limit tank was finally rolling. P’s next venture made music history as he executive produced the first rap compilations Down South Hustlers and West Coast Bad Boyz, holding down the Billboard charts for several months. Cheaply produced and recorded, with no backing from mainstream radio or television, P had built No Limit from an 24
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underground sensation to a mini-dynasty. As No Limit Records gained more notoriety, P unleashed the 1996 solo Ice Cream Man, which sold over 800,000 copies and debuted at number three on the charts. Soon after came Kane & Abel’s The 7 Sins and Silkk the Shocker’s self-titled album which debuted at number six. In 1997, P released a compilation album in memory of Tupac Shakur which debuted at number two on the R&B chart and number eight on the Top 200 chart. No Limit was now a powerhouse. In the following weeks, P scored big with the release of TRU’s new album TRU 2 Da Game, which debuted at number two on the R&B chart, number one on the Rap chart, and number eight on the Top 200. Within one week of its release, TRU 2 Da Game was certified gold. A month later, it was double platinum. In June of 1997, P crossed over into the movie industry and produced his first feature film, I’m Bout It. The straight-to-video project was financed, written, and directed by Master P and debuted at number one. P starred in the film, which was based loosely on his life growing up in New Orleans’ Calliope Projects. The soundtrack to I’m Bout It went platinum, and made history by being the first straight-to-video soundtrack on the Billboard charts. The latter part of 1997 brought P’s muchanticipated solo album, Ghetto Dope, which featured Foxy Brown, TRU, Mystikal, Too Short, E-40, and Mia X. All the tracks on Ghetto Dope were produced by No Limit’s in-house producers Beats By The Pound. Master P brought home yet another platinum plaque. He used his albums to promote his entire roster, which consisted of Silkk the Shocker, C-Murder, Mia X, Mystikal, and Young Bleed. By the end of the decade, No Limit had firmly established itself as one of hip-hop’s Fortune 500. No Limit was regularly cranking out at least ten albums a year. Never content to rest on his accomplishments, P wrote and directed another movie, I Got the Hook-Up, which hit theaters in 1998 at the same time as his chart-topping album, MP Da Last Don. No Limit signed Snoop Dogg when his
contract expired with Death Row and released Snoop’s Da Game Is To Be Sold, Not To Be Told later that year. In 1999, P added yet another entity to his growing empire. He established No Limit Sports Management, acquired a license, and became a sports agent. He began to reminisce on his own short-live collegiate years as an NCAA guard for the University of Houston. He’d dropped out of school and forfeited an athletic scholarship to start his business, so basketball was yet another dream deferred. He tried out for a professional basketball team and earned memberships with the Continental, National and American Basketball Associations. The seemingly unstoppable Master P also became a professional wrestler, formed a clothing line, and started a non-profit organization. P continues to make hits, but has slowed down on the No Limit from these days as he becomes more involved in his son’s career. At just 15, Lil Romeo has recorded five albums, stars in his own TV show which airs on the Nickelodeon cable network, and is filming his fourth movie with P. He follows in his father’s footsteps, endorsing P. Miller and No Limit gear. P’s latest double album, Good Side/Bad Side, marks his tenth solo appearance and includes tracks from his brothers C and Silkk as well as Lil Romeo. Forever a trendsetter, P packaged this one-of-a-kind limited edition version with a full-length film on DVD. In the past fifteen years, Master P’s No Limit Records has released more than 50 albums (12 multi-platinum, 10 platinum, and 12 gold), collectively selling over 50 million albums worldwide. With various business and philanthropic ventures, Master P has proven that there is no end to his resilience, and absolutely No Limit to his extraordinary vision. He shocked the entire music industry by ignoring the standard formulas and doing it the No Limit way. His empire has had a major impact on the Southern music industry, and will continue to have an impact for years to come.
Ozone Mag #33 - Apr 2005