One of the most inspiring moments of this conversation occurs when Master P reminisces about the time he was offered a $1 million dollar deal from Jimmy Iovine. As the No Limit General recalls, he’d already garnered independent success. The Ice Cream Man album was in the holster ready to redefine. P was testing the waters.
“I turned it down,” he tells HipHopDX in this exclusive interview at #DXHQ. “I Jumped back on the plane. I only had $500 in my pocket. Me and C-Murder about to fight because I’m turning down a million dollars, but I feel like I was making history. I knew I was worth more than that. If this guy’s gonna give me a million dollars, I gotta be worth $40 million or $50 million. That’s how I felt. But then I knew I had to go home and work hard. They told me, ‘You ain’t gonna get no deal in [Los Angeles] if it ain’t with us.’ They had Suge Knight. They had Puff Daddy at that time. They had everything. I just felt like I had to do it on my own.”
The implications of that decision truly opened the meaning of music entrepreneurship. Master P eventually inked a pioneering distribution deal with Priority Records which unleashed No Limit’s brand of rawkus street anthems onto the planet. But the 75 million records moved by The Tank pale in comparison to the unspoken influence Percy Miller’s ad libs and business acumen still hold on Hip Hop. Had he ended up a statistic; had he been gunned-down in that hallway during his senior year of high school or had that other gun not jammed twice while he was riding for his homie… well… who knows. Master P describes both scenarios in vivid detail below, as well as the reason he was cut from the Charlotte Hornets. He also recalls a number of the artists who reached out with interest in signing to No Limit.
“Anybody you can think of called me for advice or thinking ‘What can I do to get with No Limit,’ P says. “From Eminem, to T.I. to anybody you could think of, we done had that conversation where they wanted to be with No Limit. It was sad, but [2Pac] was thinking 'What could I do?' Same thing with Snoop Dogg. People started checking for us because they knew we was making money. They know we was printing money. They making money now. We was printing money. Everybody reached out. Nas came. Everybody reached out. I did a song with Nas back then with me and Mac. I thought that was a beautiful record but Mac went to prison and we never got a chance to do a video. I might remake that song.”
Mac’s controversial murder conviction is tackled within, along with Soulja Slim, and of course C-Murder. But the trials linger less-long than the triumphs, the inspiration, the reconciliation, the hilarity. P details his anger when a prepubescent Lil Romeo ran a car through Kentucky Fried Chicken, his pride for Ghetto D, his advice for independent artists, his faith in God. Percy Miller as rarely seen.
Breaking Down Tru's Tru 2 Da Game
HipHopDX: The keys on “No Limit Soldiers” are iconic. KLC & Mo B. Dick produced the track. How was that recording session?
Master P: At that time, KL was probably in his prime, just making incredible music. He’s always been my favorite. Once we get in the studio and I hear something, it just comes. A lot of those records just came after what we’d been through on the streets. I got the whole “Soldier” thing from my grandfather. My grandfather was in the military. He ended up losing his life because they gave him the wrong medicine at the VA hospital. My grandfather was always like, “Man, I didn’t get the $10,000 they were supposed to give me to go get me a house.” So when he passed, that stuck with me. That’s going to be in the King Of The South: Ice Cream Man movie.
You talking about "No Limit Soldiers," we knew back then that The Geto Boys had the best music. N.W.A had the best music. But we felt like something was missing in Hip Hop. We felt like that New Orleans bounce, make you jump around and get up, that was missing. So people always used to tell me that if you’re gonna start a business, you gotta find what’s missing. By me having a retail store, I thought the music was all riding music at the time. That was the biggest music. I said I’m gonna put some move into, make people get up and dance and jump around.
DX: That’s exactly what happened. I’ve been at a lot of clubs when a lot of fights went down off some No Limit tracks. Do you remember the first time you heard that beat? Did the rhymes come after you heard the beat?
Master P: I think we made the horns and then I put the hook to it and then KL just fattened it up. Some songs he made and then once I heard it I’d say I got something to it. But that particular song, being on the road, I was out there with 2Pac. I was out there with Spice-1, MC Eiht, E-40, Too Short. I felt like they all had their own sound. When we made that record, I felt like we created our own sound. I could tell by being on the bus with all these guys that was big at that time, it did something to everybody. When I cut that song on, it did something. People was on our music a little bit, but when that came and “Make ‘Em Say Uhh!,” it changed what they thought of me as an artist. I feel like we really introduced ourselves to the world because we had East Coast people jumping around, West Coast, Midwest, down South, everybody fell in love with that.
DX: That whole era was so sample heavy, obviously. But it was a different kind of sampling, the Bad Boy style sampling where it seemed like you take an entire song and add raps. There was a lot of that on Tru 2 Da Game when you think about songs like “FEDz.”
Master P: At that time it was like going into the crates of records and grabbing the best songs and being able to flip it. I think that’s what we was able to do good: Flip some stuff that might’ve been a singing record and turn it into a street record. It made sense with the code of the streets.
DX: Where’d you spend most of your time recording Tru 2 Da Game?
Master P: We built a studio in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. When I first started, I started in Richmond, California with K-Lou. Once Mia X and them got out there, and KLC, we was making good music. I was even doing music with E-A-Ski. We did a lot of Spice-1 records. I was like, “Something’s missing. I feel like I need to go home.” That’s what we did. It was like watching Rocky, that eye-of-the-tiger like, “You gotta go back.” I learned everything I learned how to hustle from The Bay. Oakland, San Francisco—I’ve been everywhere. At the same time I felt like I had to go and do me. So when I got home, all the magic just came because you’re around what you normally do. One of my partners, King George, he was from The Bay so I used to hang around him, too. I told them I’m going home. Everyone else was like, “Man, I’m chilling.” That’s basically what I did. I got the game from The Bay and I took that independent hustle game to the South. I watched what The Geto Boys and what James Prince did with Rap-a-Lot and I learned the business side. I seen a black man running a record company and said that’s where I need to be at. I’m not going to do a record deal.
My first deal, I went to Jimmy Iovine and they offered me $1 million. I turned it down. Jumped back on the plane. I only had $500 in my pocket. Me and C-Murder about to fight because I’m turning down a million dollars, but I felt like I was making history. I knew I was worth more than that. If this guy’s gonna give me a million dollars, I gotta be worth $40 million or $50 million. That’s how I felt. But then I knew I had to go home and work hard. They told me, “You ain’t gonna get no deal in this town if it ain’t with us.” They had Suge Knight. They had Puff Daddy at that time. They had everything. I just felt like I had to do it on my own.
DX: What projects were you pushing when you were talking to Jimmy Iovine?
Master P: I had the “Ice Cream Man” record. I was selling independently already. That was going to be my big project to enter the music game. I ended up getting a deal with Priority which was a distribution deal. I think people didn’t think it was gonna happen. Michael Jackson’s attorney told me, “You know, you need a distribution deal. That’s an 80/20 deal. But you gonna need $200,000 for marketing and promotion.” I’m a hood dude that went to college so that stuck in my mind. I didn’t really know what it was at the time. I just kept screaming “I need a distribution deal. That’s it.” I finally found someone who would give it to me, which was Priority. I had the marketing money. That’s how I did it.
Anybody that’s thinking that you need a major company, you don’t. You just gotta believe in yourself and you gotta be willing. I was out there putting up posters on my own. I was hitting the streets. I got into my car and people thought I was crazy but I was like, “I’m gonna make this work,” but I gotta do the marketing myself. I hit every city. I made me a No Limit van and started passing out CDs and T-shirts and putting up my own posters. I was like the Avon Man. I’m getting out here touching everybody. It’s like playing basketball. If you really want something, you gotta work for it. Get in the gym. That’s what I did. I believed in myself.
I was on tour with 2Pac in Cincinnati. They got into it with somebody and they had to leave. That first time I was there, I did that show. I was the opening act and they’d say, “Mr. P the country singer.” They didn’t even know me. They seen me with gold teeth. I’m telling dude, “Man look, you better get this right.” I had one fan at that time. I don’t know if he was drunk or whatever but they was waiting to see 2Pac. They was like, “Man, where 2Pac at?” I did my little opening act and I had one dude jumping around with me. I said, “I’m gonna turn him into millions.” That’s when I really believed that I really could do this.
DX: When’s the last time you listened to that album? Do you listen to your old work?
Master P: Now that I started back doing shows and stuff, now I gotta really get back into it. The bigger the show, the bigger piece of the past I’m gonna give them. But it’s good, though. Going in clubs, checking it out. It feels funny because the younger generation knows all my old music and they catching on to this new music. I did the “Freaky” song in the club last night. I did a concert in Baton Rouge for Southern University’s homecoming. They went crazy. They on it. They feeling it. Some people don’t know the record. Some people do know the record. I had somebody at the college say, “Oh P, you redid Future’s record.” I said, “Oh really?” [Laughs] I like it. Big shout out to Future. I want this generation to take what I’m doing and flip it. I think it’s great. When people think of you that means that you did something right. It was funny to me. Then they got on they phone quick they said “Hold up, P had a ‘Freak Hoes’ record off the Tru record. That was way back in the 1990s.” I had did this record maybe a year ago, but I wanted to find the right time to put it out. It’s good, though.
DX: That was my favorite part of the club, when “Freak Hoes” came on.
Master P: The energy in that record and what it is, people just wanna party. They don’t care what you’re saying. It’s like let your hair back and just party. I like the new version now. I don’t know why I like the new version better. Maybe because of the time. We know that record is a classic and whoever flips it, flips it. I’m good.
DX: “Tru ?s” was another of my favorite tracks off of Tru 2 Da Game. I thought C-Murder slayed all three verses. Was there a point when you and Silkk thought about getting on that record as well?
Master P: To be honest with you, a lot of those records I made the hook for it and said I feel like that’s a C record or that’s a Silkk The Shocker record. We all made records that we felt like, “This a P record. This a Silkk record.” That’s how it is when you’re family. We don’t care. We just wanna put the records out and it turn out to be a good record. I think that’s what was different about us back then. We made a lot of records with all of us on it. That’s what our claim to fame was. We supported each other. We sold 75 million records because we rapped on whoever made a record. We didn’t trip. A lot of groups and a lot of solo records that were big, they didn’t rap on your record unless you was huge back then. That’s how we passed a lot of people up. We used ourselves. We said we were gonna build our brand with us. We had a lot of guys that never put a record out before, they’ll go gold because it had us on it. At one time we had over 20 records on the Billboard charts. I was having a fight with the people at Priority. They were like “You can’t put that many records out at one time.” I said, “Why I can’t? I own the company.” It’s a difference when you got Ice Cube and these guys, but you can tell them what to do. You can’t tell me what to do because I own the company.” They was like, “What kind of deal we got?” I said, “We got a distribution deal. That’s it. I tell y’all what to do.” It really changed the game, man.
That’s what’s gonna be so powerful about that movie. When I watched the N.W.A movie [Straight Outta Compton], it showed how in Hip Hop we lost a lot. My movie is a rags-to-riches story. It’s gonna show how we were able to conquer and win. My last words with [Priority] was after I did that deal with Brian Turner, they wrote me a big check. When Ice Cube broke up the thing in the office, mine’s was a little bit different. I had them scared because they didn’t want to pay me either. But I was like, “My people gonna be up there in the morning.” They was scared. At the end of the day, I sent an attorney and I sent an auditor up there. That’s what I learned being from the streets and going to college. That’s what I learned. You gotta out think them. When I audited them, they ended up writing me a fat check. I told them my last words was “I’m gonna open up the industry to be able to make money, to where Hip Hop people are going to be able to feed their families off of this. There ain’t gonna be no more Y’all robbing us and we ain’t gonna get no money. We’re just out here for fame.” That was the breaking point for me to be able to cash big checks like that. It opened the doors for whoever—the Cash Moneys, the 50 Cents, the Dr. Dres, everybody. They wasn’t cutting us those type of checks. It allowed me to be able to go sign Snoop Dogg when his career was supposed to be over with. I was like, “Suge look, my money don’t spend? What you gonna offer them? Well I’m gonna give you a little more.” That’s how that went. It’s incredible that we were able to come from the hood to Hollywood to conquer that. It was a struggle at first but I feel like hard work paid off.
Master P's Lyrical Reputation
DX: Did you realize at the time that moves you all were making were going to be pioneering?
Master P: We was always doing stuff that was out of the box. I was in this prestigious neighborhood in Baton Rouge. We had all the news and media talking. No black person had ever bought a house back there. I bought five houses at one time. I bought a house that the governor didn’t even have a house like that. They were saying, “You’re not going to be a part of this club and we’re gonna make sure we stop the money, the loan that you did at the bank. You’ll never get a house back here.” They called him back. It was this old white guy. They called him back like “The houses are paid for. He didn’t get a loan.” He was like “What?!” [Laughs] If you get out there and word hard for something, you can do something incredible. I had Snoop a house back there, Mystikal, Silkk The Shocker, C, me. We was always breaking the mold. I feel like in Baton Rouge, which was different from California, we just stuck out so big in Louisiana, in New Orleans. They’d never seen that type of success. After a while I said, “I gotta go to Hollywood.” It’s just too much you gotta deal with with the success that you had. People in the South weren’t used to that. So you were stereotyped.
DX: At that time, people weren’t crediting you with being tight lyrically. Did that bother you?
Master P: To be honest with you, I got into this business to feed my family. If you question my lyrical status, that’s fine. I never wanted to be the best rapper in the world. I wanted to make my money. The songs I had, they were heartfelt. They’re real. You listen to “I Miss My Homies.” What you call that? “Is There A Heaven For A Gangsta?” It’s real. It just depends on what you’re looking for. “Make ‘Em Say Uhh!,” these are some of the biggest records in the world and they still go strong today—some of the biggest records in the club right now when you go. To me, that’s what Hip Hop is, you being yourself, being a part of a culture that you kind of like an outcast, you’re kind of like a loner. Everybody gonna hate when you’re at the top, it don’t matter. People can say whatever. I don’t care about what people say. If your conscience is clear, you ain’t gotta worry about what nobody say. It’s an opinion. That’s what it is to me. Your opinion about me back then about me being a lyricist, that’s your opinion. But go look it up, I broke every record, made Forbes Top 40 Under 40 back then at 20-something years old. You can go stand on the stage and get a trophy. I’m gonna go to the bank and get whatever I want. And we made history.
DX: It was a big thing, though. Not even just No Limit, but the South in general. We’re two years past Andre 3000 speaking up at The Source Awards. People weren’t crediting Scarface, UGK as widely for the things they’d done.
Master P: Scarface, UGK, Lil Wayne—there’s a lot of people that’ve done great things lyrically—Mystikal. A lot of talent come from where we come from. We opened the doors. I felt like we brought all coasts together with the music. People wanted to dance. I feel like we brought dance to Hip Hop, to the streets. It was more like a riding type of music back in the day. Even Ice Cube and them music, that was still riding music. It wasn’t like “We gonna go in the club and tear it up.” I like to make music that the women could dance to. That’s where the “Wobble Wobble” and all that stuff came from. You gotta find a niche. I feel like we made street music that girls could relate to.
I think that our height changed the game. All of us was tall so the girls was like “You a rapper or a basketball player?” [Laughs] That was crazy because when we stand next to 2Pac and Ice Cube and all of them, we was like 7-foot over them. The girls really knew like, “Who them dudes?” They wanted to know who we was—me, C, and Silkk. It was crazy because not too many rappers was tall like us. It was good, though. People thought we was basketball players. [Laughs]
DX: You were, though.
Master P: Yeah, I was. Then a lot of people didn’t know I started in basketball. My life could’ve been different. There were a lot of tragedies. I was telling people about my first day of going to college. My senior year, I go and shoot dice with my cousin in the projects. Some guys that went to school with me—about eight of them—they came up and tried to rob us. I took the money and I threw it up in the air. My cousin, he was the man at the time. We called him Hot Boy. That’s where all the Hot Boy stuff came from. I told him, “Hot Boy, these dudes for real. We need to run.” But they had both sides of the area surrounded. So I decided to run up the stairs. I shook the door and laid down. As I laid down, they shot the door up. I could hear them laughing “I got P!” They coming downstairs to get my cousin. They shot him about seven or eight times. So I jumped in the car and took him to the hospital. Dropped him off at the hospital. When he got well, we started looking for [the guy that shot him] but never found him. My cousin was like, “Man, you need to go to school and do something with your life.” I think I’m going to make it in basketball. I went to school the first day and they found him. They ended up getting all eight of them. So it’s like I went to school, they went to prison. I feel like I’ve been blessed ever since. I feel like God had a different path for me.
People don’t know the struggle that we’ve been through so I salute everybody that gets something else and makes it out. People even criticize like, “Oh man, you used to hustle.” Yeah I hustled. I did all that. But that ain’t what I wanted to do. If I got a better shot, a better chance at life, I’m gonna do something else to it. That’s what I’m doing. You can stereotype and point the fingers and say I’m this or that. I’m just a ghetto kid with a second chance that’s gonna make the best of it for my kids. That’s what I changed my life for. People can change they life. I realize I can’t save everybody. Even if the people that are kin to me don’t want nothing out of life, I’m going to show them tough love from a distance. I’m not gonna let nobody bring me down from what I’m doing if I’m trying to do right.
DX: I don’t know if people remember, that was Lil’ Romeo on the intro to Tru 2 Da Game.
Master P: Oh yeah, Romeo was a thug, man! I was just telling somebody, you know how life changes? One of my boys, his son got killed. His name’s Victor. Romeo and his son used to fight. I’d be like, “Rome, you could whoop him. Go ahead.” Rome get in there and duke it out with him. I’d go buy him some Jordans. My head was screwed up back then. I started looking like “What am I doing to my son?” But I’m really trying to make him tough. We live in the projects. We didn’t know we were gonna make it this far. Rome done a lot of fighting in the projects. Good thing we jumped in that car and went to California because we would’ve been dead or in prison.
When you a hood dude and you’re making money, that’s my first son, so you taking him everywhere. I’m hitting Rome like, “You better be tough! Don’t let nobody punk you!” [Laughs] But God did something. He made me look at him and say, “Man, if I don’t wanna die or turn this kid out to be something negative, I need to get my life together and leave.” That was the best thing that I ever did because my son grew up to be something incredible. A lot of my other friends, their kids are dead or in prison. I look at Romeo all the time like, “Dude, you turned out to be a nice dude but you could’ve went either way!” If y’all remember, go look at Rome back then. He had the braids. He was a gangsta in the making. [Laughs] But that’s what God do.
Why Master P Was Cut From The Charlotte Hornets
DX: What were your first impressions of Bryan "Baby" Williams and Slim and Cash Money?
Master P: At that time I could’ve signed everything that was with Cash Money. Everybody. Baby was a hustler. He was trying to make it. At that time, me being from the Calio and them being from Magnolia, one of my little homies had got killed so we could never do nothing because I always thought it was something dealing with somebody from that side of the game. Not them specifically but dudes out that hood over there. I never could really do nothing with them. That basically was it. But I saluted them. I saluted they success, whatever they were doing. It was beautiful. We all was from New Orleans. I think it’s a beautiful thing. But we never really had a relationship or nothing like that. It never was. We was from two different places.
DX: Just from a Hip Hop context. Emcees tend to be competitive, especially in the 1990s. Did you ever feel like it was a competition to put out the best or most popular music?
Master P: I feel like at that time it was no competition. Everybody was chasing us so I never felt like that. I did whatever I wanted to do. I wanted to go to the NBA, I went to the NBA. I feel like I did whatever I needed to do. But at that time I didn’t know the NBA was politics. So my music, when I was in Charlotte, I was the biggest draw. In my line for fan day, I had 10,000 people. Everybody else might’ve had five people or ten people. You seen the game. You seen me play. I did what I had to do. I handled my business. At that time, the GM of the team was Bob Bass. He was an older guy so he didn’t know why I wasn’t scared of Anthony Mason (God rest the dead). He couldn’t believe it. He was like, “This guy is so big, P! Why is you not afraid of him?” I said, “He’s just a person.” I liked him. He was cool. He got at me one time. He was like, “Look dog, after practice, I’m gonna beat you up.” I was like, “OK, cool.” I slapped him again when he went up because I was fouling back then. I was like, “You go to the basket, I’m gonna let you have it,” because everybody was scared of him and I wanted to see what he was gonna do. After practice I was waiting for him. I said, “You ready big dawg?! What’s happening!” He said, “Little man, you crazy. Go ‘head, man. We cool.” We became friends after that.
The GM came back to me and said, “You know what, man? You’re a helluva player. But your music is pure filth.” That’s why he let me go. I said, “That’s cold blooded.” But the fans went crazy after that and he had to deal with it. He listened to my records and really seen what that was. He was like, “Nah.” [Laughs]
DX: You balled that preseason, though.
Master P: Bobby Phills, he’s another one. Rest in peace. That was my homeboy. Real dude. I was out there at that time. Sometimes money can take you down, man. Those guys, they would bring cars over there to us, Porsches, whatever. They would say, “Here man, take which one y’all want and sign off on it.” I was like, “Man, I’m good.” As soon as B. Phills and your boy David, they got them cars and they started speeding. I was supposed to be with them at the time. They drove fast with me in the car and I was like, man, drop me off back at the hotel. I was living in the hotel. I wasn’t buying a house until I make this team. They used to drive so fast. It was a tragedy when that man lost his life. I couldn’t believe it. Everyday we balled-out, did what we had to do. It was crazy.
Master P Considered Signing Eminem, T.I. & Nas
DX: You mentioned “I Miss My Homies” earlier. There’s a 2Pac tribute in there. There’s a conversation floating that you were talking about bringing Pac over to No Limit.
Master P: Let me tell you how that happened. You know I lived in The Bay. At first I’m out there hustling doing my thing. Everybody know who I am. E-A-Ski was signed to me. I had a lot of underground people. People seen what I did business wise so a lot of guys called me. Anybody you can think of called me for advice or thinking “What can I do to get with No Limit.” From Eminem, to T.I. to anybody you could think of, we done had that conversation where they wanted to be with No Limit. It was sad, but [2Pac] was thinking “What could I do?” Same thing with Snoop Dogg. People started checking for us because they knew we was making money. They know we was printing money. They making money now. We was printing money. Everybody want to be with the people that are winning. I don’t care if you’re an R&B singer or whoever, we had some kind of influence on you. Whether you was Beyonce, En Vogue, whoever. Everybody wanted to be a soldier.
Everybody reached out. Nas came. Everybody reached out. I did a song with Nas back then with me and Mac. I thought that was a beautiful record but Mac went to prison and we never got a chance to do a video. I might remake that song. I thought that was a real message record that I thought touched a lot of people and I still think it can touch a lot of people. It’s called “Where Do We Go From Here.” It’s like poetry. I think everybody did their thing on that record. I think everybody came relevant.
DX: How’d those conversations go?
Master P: You gotta imagine, I started on the road. I started doing shows with them, but at first I was just making money. People knew me as the hustler. Just being around people, people know you good people. It’s building relationships. You know the good people. A lot of people just came at me wanting to know what’s up. Curious. A lot of people had contracts. I’m still an artist. People know I’m a boss, but I’m an artist, too, so I can talk to anyone from an artist’s perspective. People was infatuated with how we did business and how we was able to make money and buy things, which everybody couldn’t do. They was probably the best lyricists, like you said. Look at KRS-One, Eric B & Rakim and them—who could touch them? At that same time, they wasn’t making the same money we was making. I think it affected the whole industry. People were like, “Man, I need a deal like P. Want to do my own thing.” But it’s a lot of hard work. I had to hire a lot of good people to get out there and work to make this happen.
DX: Do you think Pac would’ve made his way to No Limit?
Master P: To be honest, I don’t know. God already had whatever was gonna happen. To me, Soulja Slim was our 2Pac. Getting in a lot of trouble but probably one of the most talented guys I’ve met, really living that street life. There was nothing bigger than 2Pac. For us, Soulja Slim was that next thing that we could relate to; somebody that was really out there thugging doing his thing. Me being a street dude, I met Soulja Slim when he was trying to rob one of my producers. Then he seen me and I was like, “Homie, really?” I was like, “Man, you better get up outta here with that. You know how it is.” He was like, “Nah, big dog. I didn’t know that was your people. I’m tryna get my life together. I ain’t getting high no more. I’m tryna do music.” [Laughs] This some real New Orleans street stuff. I was like, “Man, give me your number. When you get yourself together, I’m gonna holla at you.” Later everybody called me saying Slim wasn’t doing nothing crazy no more, but this is how I met him. It was just something about him. I couldn’t turn him down. He just had that swagger and he wanted out of that life. It’s another sad tragedy. He couldn’t change. He was addicted to it. He was addicted to his homies. What I was trying to show everybody from C-Murder to Soulja Slim was that we have to make a change if we’re gonna make it. We can’t keep doing the things that we used to do. Sometimes you have to detach yourself from your homeboys.
I feel like Mac on our label was one of the best rappers I ever met in my life. He end up facing a life sentence. I’m like, “Mac, you going to a club that’s gonna pay you $5,000 to do a show. How much money you got in your bank?” He said, “I got millions.” I said, “So why you going to that club?” They asked me if I want to come, I said, “Man, I’m going to sleep.” I said to Mac, “Now if you go, you on your own.” He brought his whole team in there. Somebody ended up getting killed. He went to prison. I don’t think he had nothing to do with it. It don’t matter. You the biggest thing in there.
The same thing with C-Murder. C ain’t had nothing to do with it, but he the biggest thing in there so that’s what they want. They want to bring you down because they know you making money. You got millions of dollars in your bank account and you going to do a show for $5,000.
DX: Why do you think he went to that show?
Master P: Because he felt like he had to go because he was on the bill. They thugging. Everybody thuggin’ at that that time. I done all my thuggin’ then went to sleep. God spared my life. I done almost lost my life at gunpoint and been missed a couple times. I done went to a club. Somebody hit one of my homeboys. I go to the car, get the gun, shoot, nothing comes out. I’m supposed to be going to prison. I know I’m going to prison. See the guy again running out the club on the other side. Shoot. Nothing comes out again. I jump in my car and leave, clip empties. I said man, I’m about to go do music forreal. I’m out there promoting a record and I ain’t have nothing to do with it. One of my homeboys got into it with somebody.
Same thing with C-Murder. I went to jail at the House Of Blues. I told C, “Man, we can’t keep doing this.” I’m the one that went to jail. A lot of us are addicted to our communities and our homeboys. My problem was when I got a nice car, I gotta come back to the project and show it off. What am I doing? It’s good for the kids to be motivated and be successful. One of my homeboys said, “P, what you keep coming back here for? You done made it.” I was addicted. That’s why I tried to show everybody that you don’t have nothing to prove. You live in a mansion now, you don’t gotta prove that you’re hood. That’s what you worked hard for. When I knew I grew up was when I realized I didn’t have to show the hood that I was real. They know I’m real. I done made it out. The ones that are supposed to be so real are already dead or in jail. But they supposed to be so hard. Where the smart ones at? Where are the ones that figured out that now you could live to be 40 and take care of your kids and do that type of stuff? It don’t normally happen. So I thank God to be able to be an OG. A lot of my homies, brothers, and cousins died young. My goal was to be able to live to be 19 years old. That was my goal back then. All my homeboys died young. I was like, “Lord, if you can let me live to be 19, that would be cool.” At that time New Orleans was the murder capital of the world.
DX: That’s a dark sentence. Even ‘Pac questioned being alive at 25.
Master P: A lot of my partners was dying at 16 or 17 years old. See, they’ll come get you when you’re 12 years old because you’ll end up getting juvenile life. They’d say, “I need you to handle this,” and you wouldn’t know. You thinking you doing something, but your life is over with. Then you go to prison on a murder charge. The big man supposed to be taking care of you. They gonna recruit you. I’m playing basketball. I’m shooting jumpers. I started taking kids out of the hood, shooting basketball, started AAU organizations. You couldn’t do that back then. People were like, “Boy you know how to whip that work or something? We can’t do nothing for you.” It’s a blessing that we were able to educate ourselves and be at the forefront of being able to give back to the hood and taking kids and saying “Go get your education. You can be successful.” Feeding them with some positivity. Even if somebody look at me and call me a hypocrite. Yeah I was hustling. That’s all I knew. Now I can do my part. I’m in LA. I’m in New Orleans. Wherever I am, places that’ve been good to me, I’m in the hood helping kids, doing toy drives, doing turkey drives, being a part of inner city youth. We got a foundation called Urban Born: Let The Kids Grow. It’s about helping these kids that could have a second chance to be something and motivating them to see that we actually come from there. Yeah, we got a lot of bullet wounds and scars but look what God did for us. He can do the same thing for you if you want it. That’s what my life’s been about.
DX: The case of McKinley Phipps, Mac, is being reexamined. They found a number of inconsistencies. I think your point is correct: Why even go there for $5,000 if you’ve got millions in your bank account? There have also been new allegations that the DA coerced people to say that Mac pulled the trigger.
Master P: You’ll see in my movie, New Orleans for that time was known for a lot of crooked cops. I had to deal with it. If you’ve seen the N.W.A movie, you just thought that they was just messing with them. Look at us. We got a lot of money. They making $20,000 a year and you might have that in your pocket. What you think gonna happen? There are good people in everything. There are good cops out there. If you have a tragedy and call 911, hopefully you’ll get a good cop to come and help you. Sometimes you might get a bad one. I think it’s good and bad in everything. I just know at that time it was a lot more dirty cops in New Orleans.
I remember this time they had a woman and man cop team. I’m thinking of remaking this story. It’s called Flat Top and Ponytail. This black dude and this white chick, they was causing ruckus. They was murking people. They was jacking people. Go look up that story.
Signing Curren$y & Managing Meek Mill
DX: What’s your first memory of Curren$y?
Master P: Curren$y, for me, he was always a young kid with a lot of talent, but he was always in a rush. That’s why it didn’t work with me. When I managed Meek Mill, Meek always wanted to go get a deal, so he ended up signing with Rick Ross. I’m telling Meek Mill, “You’re a star. You just need to wait.” I feel like at that time Curren$y was in a rush. Whoever was gonna get him a deal that would get him some spotlight, he was going. He was probably the most talented young person that I knew at that time. If he was a little more patient, I think he could’ve done bigger things earlier in his career. Not now. When he was first getting on. But he's like an OG but he out here with the youngsters. He really an OG because he was back then with us.
I don’t think Curren$y knew how small he was. He would get into with Krazy. Krazy a real monster. Krazy gonna put them hands on you, man. Don’t do it. [Laughs] Sometimes him and other artists would go and test Krazy and I’d have to clean it up. [Laughs] Curren$y was a good dude. He always had a good heart. I want to see him win and I see that he’s doing a lot of good things, being able to be around Wiz Khalifa when he got discovered and stuff. I think it’s his time. It’s now or never for Curren$y, if he’s really gonna pop. But he’s been around a while.
DX: I’d never thought about this until you just said this now, but maybe he’s listening. What you’re describing sounds like his model.
Master P: Yeah, everybody listening now. [Laughs] My grandfather always told me, “If you don’t get it where I say, you gonna have to learn the hard way.” I think a lot of people end up going through that. When people come to me, they think that I’m supposed to do so much for them. It’s like, what about you putting your part in it? That’s what I’m doing now. I have no artist deals. It’s all partnerships. It’s all 50/50. You do your part. I’ll do my part. We partners. I don’t want no artists around me. I’m good on that. There’s always artists that feel like you owe them so much because they’re your artists. I’m good on that. You do your business. You learn your business. Hustle. From social media to whatever, you make yourself relevant. You make good music. The magic happens from that. I don’t need to do you. You need to do yourself. If you gonna get 50 percent of the money, then you gonna have to work. Everyone else did it. Look at Fetty Wap. Fetty Wap blew up because he got out there and worked. He promoted his record, believed in it. Look where he’s at now, even with all the haters. If you wanna talk about lyricists. Just talk about hit records. The man making hit records. If you don’t respect that, it’s on you. He got Drake to get on a record. That’s when you know you got one. [Laughs]
DX: We spoke with Mystikal a couple of weeks ago and he was really complimentary of you. He talked about how he reached out to you to ask if he should sign to Cash Money. He talked about how he was worried what you would think, and he was surprised how you were a big proponent of him signing.
Master P: Mystikal called me but at that time I wasn’t doing what I was doing with my music. Cash Money was hot at the time. I was like, “Mike, if that’s what you wanna do, you gotta do that for your family. You just got out of prison. I’m not mad at you. Do what you do. I’m gonna be alright. I’m a hustler.” It didn’t work in the end because I think Mystikal has so much No Limit stuff. It’s not gonna work in the end, even if it seems like it’s gonna work. I think that’s just what it was.
DX: It seems like a lot of the legacy No Limit artists from that time speak differently about No Limit than the way legacy Cash Money artists speak about the Cash Money. Snoop told us, for example, that you were the only one to really help him learn how to make real money.
Master P: I seen the value in Snoop. Snoop was a helluva worker. To me, if you’re in an old car. I can see the vision of what this car should be. I’m gonna fix this car up. Everything there is there. It just needs whoever relevant at the time. Right now, Drake could make anybody if he wanted to because he’s just that relevant. Whoever he decides to break and make a good record with, they’re gonna be successful because of where he’s at now. That’s where we were at that time. When everyone was saying it’s over for Snoop, I was like, “How’s it gonna be over? We’re the hottest thing in the world. When he gets with us, he’s gonna be the hottest thing in the world.” That’s basically what it is. There’s a lot of these guys that just want to be stars. They want to be by themselves. I never wanted to shine by myself. That’s why we sold so many records. I wanted everybody to get a little shine. That’s why you always seen a lot of people on No Limit. When you see us on the stage, there’s a lot of guys shining. It worked out for the good and the bad. After a while, some guys didn’t want to work. They just wanted you to give. But Snoop was a different breed. He watched what I was doing and wanted to hustle. At first he wanted to be an artist, but when he got around me, it started wearing off. He’d ask, “P, how you get that money over there?” I’d tell him, “You’ve got to reach out to these sponsors. You gotta get rid of some of these people off your team. Get experts on your team. Get good people around you. Get people that’s gonna work when everyone else sleep. That’s what the real entrepreneur is. You’ve gotta be able to see the vision when everyone else don’t see it.” He started doing it. I seen stuff nobody else could see. The house was already made, but all they could see was the wood. I’m going against all odds. That’s what an entrepreneur is. I paid everybody. Everybody was paid except me. It was certain times you’ve seen us and thought everybody was paid. Everybody was paid but me. I’d go with no money. That’s what type of entrepreneur I am. But I made sure everybody else was paid so they’re all happy. There was times I did stuff for people to make them happy, to get them Christmas presents and I ain’t have stuff to give to my kids. But I knew my kids were gonna get there’s down the line with what I’m doing.
When I first opened No Limit, I went from making no money. Romeo a little boy. I got the music. I just made me $10,000. I’m happy. I’m going into the store to carry the records into the store and Romeo done hit the little switch on the car and run straight into Kentucky Fried Chicken. I’m like, “Man, you tripping!” He’s a little boy but I’m like, “Man, you tripping.” I’m happy he didn’t go the opposite way because if he had hit reverse, he would’ve been in the street and I don’t know what would’ve happened. I go talk to the people at the KFC and say, “Man, you don’t need to call the police. What could we do?” He said, “Man, it’s gonna cost you about $9,000. You got $9,000?” I’m like, “Man, here, man. Don’t call the police. Get you a new window or whatever.” I was so mad at Romeo but that’s my fault. As a parent, that I got a second chance. I should’ve took him out of there.
DX: Whenever I look at the early 2000s, ad libs were huge. Ad libs over beats that would move the club was what people put on their packaging. How’d you feel about that? To me, that’s when Master P’s style really became ubiquitous.
Master P: I influenced a lot of those South artists. Jeezy, definitely a lot of stuff. I’m the first person that probably hustled and was able to change his life over and do something with it. Gucci Mane. Rick Ross. Those guys started building their careers off of the ad libs. I’d always say, “Uhhh!” People would be like, “P, how many ‘Uhhhs’ you gonna need?” I’m like, “Man, I gotta put that in there to wake them up.” It always was like that. I needed that to wake people up.
DX: It changed the game. It added a third dimension to everyone who picked up a microphone. Which album are you most proud of that you released or that you made?
Master P: Ghetto D, for me. I feel like Ghetto Dope changed something. Ice Cream Man changed something. That’s just my opinion. Every time I give an opinion, people might get mad. It’s all good. I’m gonna keep giving opinions. It ain’t no thing. It’s just an opinion. I tell you now, with my opinions, I’m gonna start my own TV show called Master P Opinions. So whoever wanna be mad, they can get mad. I’m gonna talk about whatever their favorite entertainer or athletes or whoever. We’ll give some real stuff about it. It’s gonna be Master P Opinions.