Master P is nearly three decades knee-deep in the rap game and the No Limit tank still isn’t on “E.”
Though P isn’t the household name he once was and hasn’t quite reached the level of notoriety of fellow moguls JAY-Z and Puff Daddy, Percy Miller has remained prolific on the microphone. His latest, Tony Mantana, finds the No Limit boss getting waist deep in melodramatic trap to an alluring —if basic – effect.
The 47-year-old boss doesn’t sound a day over 30 as he spits an infectious hook on “Too Many”: “Too many, too many, bands I done popped too many…” His self-assured delivery and easy flow turn elementary lyrics like these into catchy phrases to rap along with during rush hour. The bulk of the songs follow suit, tossing aside lyricism in favor of a foreboding vibe. “We Did It,” a generic victory lap, finds P trying too hard to fit into today’s scene. However, he mostly succeeds in his modern stylings, which marks Tony Mantana a suitable blend of the new and old.
Believe, there is nothing groundbreaking here. As the mixtape’s hackneyed title belies, Master P runs well-worn topics into the ground. A song like “Ride or Die” features exactly the kind of true-to-the-game sentiments the title suggests. However, the production and the bass in P’s voice are the real draws, turning the lyrics into accompaniments for shrimp-n-lobster mobster flicks. The slow-tempo beats set an ominous tone, and melodramatic ivory tickles combine with trap drum patterns to give the feeling that a mob hit is always just around the corner. Picture Scarface realizing Manolo would be forever plugging his sister; Tony Mantana is that tense.
P plays the project’s brevity to its strength. Clocking a little more than 38 minutes, the redundant, boastful themes surprisingly stay fresh throughout. Mr. Miller is helped by not only his patented bird calls but by solid guest turns. Budding female starlet Kay Klover is swagtastic on several tracks, and impressively piles rhymes on rhymes on “Balls and My Word”: “You hoes is sittin’ I made a decision to play my position/And this division’s some shit you can’t envision.” Meanwhile, Gotti 4 Real goes step-for-step in the gutter with P on the aforementioned “Too Many” and “Pop It.” Percy would have been wise to capitalize on the tape’s theme with some big-name trap rappers, but it’s possible he’s holding off calling in the favors for what he’ll deem an official album.
Until then, this calamari-and-marinara-sauce appetizer will certainly do. Tony Mantana is a ballsy affair that stays in the pocket and comes out a winner.