From Rap Legend to Business Mogul, Master P is Indeed a Master of all
by Rapjoint Lagos
Throughout the late '90s, Master P created a hip-hop empire while flying just beneath the mainstream radar. As the CEO of No Limit Records, he led a camp of prolific artists who redefined rap through innovative production and lyrics derived directly from lived experiences in some of America's toughest streets. Master P wasn't just a label head but a rapper himself, actively creating music from his independent beginnings in the early '90s to mainstream success by the end of the decade. In the years following his 1997 hit "Make 'Em Say Uhh!," Master P dabbled in a wide variety of business ventures outside of music. He'd try his hand at everything from acting to writing to involvement with professional wrestling, while periodically releasing new albums like 2016's Louisiana Hot Sauce and the 2020 mixtape No Limit Chronicles: The Lost Tape.
Percy Robert Miller Sr. (born April 29, 1970), also known by his stage name Master P, is an American rapper, record executive, actor, and entrepreneur. He is the founder of the record label No Limit Records, which was relaunched as New No Limit Records through Universal Records and Koch Records, and again as Guttar Music Entertainment, and currently, No Limit Forever Records. He is also the founder and CEO of P. Miller Enterprises and Better Black Television, which was a short-lived online television network.
Miller initially gained fame in the mid-1990s with the success of his hip hop group TRU as well as his fifth solo rap album Ice Cream Man, which contained his first single "Mr. Ice Cream Man". Miller gained further popularity in 1997 after the success of his Platinum single "Make 'Em Say Uhh!". In total, Miller has released 15 studio albums.
Percy Robert Miller was born and raised in Central City in the Third Ward of Uptown New Orleans, Louisiana in the Calliope Projects. He is the oldest of five children. He has one sister, Germaine, and three brothers: Kevin, and platinum-selling rap artists Corey "C-Murder" and Vyshonne "Silkk the Shocker" Miller. He attended Booker T. Washington High School and Warren Easton High School.
Having played on the basketball team, Miller attended the University of Houston on an athletic scholarship, but dropped out months into his freshman year and transferred to Merritt College in Oakland, California to major in business administration.After the death of his grandfather, Miller inherited $10,000 as part of a malpractice settlement. Miller opened a record store in Richmond, California called No Limit Records, which later became the foundation for his own record label of the same name. On February 15, 1990, Master P released the cassette tape Mind Of A Psychopath. His brother Kevin Miller was killed that same year in New Orleans. This increased his motivation to become a successful entrepreneur to change his life and save his family.
While working at No Limit, Master P learned that there was a rap audience who loved funky, street-level beats that the major labels weren't providing. Using this knowledge, he decided to turn No Limit into a record label in 1990. The following year, he debuted with Get Away Clean and later had an underground hit with The Ghettos Tryin to Kill Me! in 1994. Around this same time, the compilation West Coast Bad Boyz, which featured rappers Rappin' 4-Tay and E-40 before they were nationally known, was released and spent over half-a-year on the charts. These latter two albums were significant underground hits and confirmed what Master P suspected: there was an audience for straight-ahead, unapologetic, funky hardcore rap. He soon moved No Limit to New Orleans and began concentrating on making records.
By the mid-'90s, No Limit had developed its own production team, Beats by the Pound (comprised of Craig B., KLC, and Mo B. Dick), who worked on every one of the label's releases. And there were many of them at the rate of nearly ten a year, all masterminded by Master P and Beats by the Pound. They crafted the sound, often stealing songs outright from contemporary hits. They designed album covers, which had the colorfully busy look of straight-to-video exploitation films. And they worked fast, recording and releasing entire albums, some in two weeks.
Included in that production schedule were Master P's own albums. 99 Ways to Die was released in 1995, and Ice Cream Man appeared the following year. By the time Ghetto D was released in the late summer of 1997, Master P had turned No Limit into a mini-empire. "Make 'Em Say Uhh!," a single from Ghetto D marked by P's telltale groan, would go platinum and Tru -- a group he formed with his younger brothers Silkk the Shocker and C-Murder -- had Top Ten R&B hit albums. His success in the recording industry inspired him to make I'm Bout It, an autobiographical comedy-drama titled after Tru's breakthrough hit. Master P financed the production himself, and when he found no distributor, it went straight to video in the summer of 1997.
His next film, I Got the Hook Up, appeared in theaters during the summer of 1998, concurrent with the release of his album MP da Last Don. In between flirtations with the sports world -- including a tryout with the NBA's Toronto Raptors, involvement with pro wrestling, and negotiating the NFL contract of Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams -- Master P recorded 1999's Only God Can Judge Me. Ghetto Postage, and Game Face. The double-CD Good Side, Bad Side appeared in 2004 and marked P and No Limit's new relationship with the label/distribution company Koch. Both Ghetto Bill and Living Legend: Certified D-Boy arrived a year later. The 2007 compilation Featuring...Master P rounded up some of the rapper's collaborations.
Throughout the 2000s and into the 2010s, P continued releasing new music periodically and starting up various business and entertainment ventures. Aside from being a rapper, Master P has enjoyed a successful career as an entrepreneur and investor. Miller opened a record store in Richmond, California called No Limit Records, which later became the foundation for his own record label of the same name.
Miller was one of the first rappers to notice and take advantage of the retail potential of the music industry. As an investor, Master P was one of the first rappers to build a business and financial empire by investing in a wide range of business and investment ventures from a variety of industries. He has since invested the millions of dollars he made from his No Limit record company into a travel agency, a Foot Locker retail outlet, real estate, stocks, film, music, and television production, toy making, clothing, telecommunications, a jewellery line, auto accessories, book and magazine publishing, car rims, fast food franchises, and gas stations.
In 1998, Miller ranked 10th on Forbes magazine's list of America's 40 highest paid entertainers, with an estimated income of $56.5 million. In 2013, Miller's wealth is estimated to be $200 million, making him one of the wealthiest figures in the American hip hop scene.
In 2001, Master P won the award for "Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Artist" at the American Music Awards.In 2005, Miller was ranked at number 36 by VH1 in their list of 50 Greatest Hip Hop Artists. On September 29, 2008, Miller's single "Make 'Em Say Uhh!" would be ranked at number 94 by VH1 in their list of 100 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs. BET named Miller number 28 in 'The Most Influential Rappers of All Time'. BET also listed Miller as one of 'The 25 Influential Black Music Execs'. On July 10, 2013, Miller was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame, making him the first hip hop artist to be inducted. On May 23, 2021, Master P received his honorary doctorate from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.