Master P - Biography
Master P's career began as a west coast, N.W.A.-inspired gangsta rapper as part of the Richmond-based act, Tru. After relocating to New Orleans and tapping into the local talent, he quickly became a multi-millionaire. His musical style, which evolves to reflect whatever musical fad is popular at the time, has been described by the astute moneymaker as "New Orleans gumbo."
Percy Robert Miller was born April 29th, 1967 in New Orleans. Along with four siblings (Corey, Kevin, Vyshonn and Germany) he grew up in Uptown's notorious, behemoth, Calliope projects. In the late '70s, after his parents divorced, the Miller children split their time between the home of their paternal grandparents in New Orleans and their mothers' new home in Richmond, California. As a teenager, Percy pursued a career in basketball at Booker T. Washington and Warren Eason high schools. He won a sports scholarship at the University of Houston but his dreams of an athletic career were sidelined by a serious knee injury.
After his brother Kevin was robbed and killed in New Orleans, Percy relocated to Califorina to study business at Oakland's Merritt Junior College. His first attempt at music making was as the beat maker for a Bay Area rap crew, XII Gauge and The Hit Squad. The same year, Percy and his wife Sonya gave birth to a son, whom they named Percy Romeo Miller Jr. Using the money from a malpractice suit following the death of his grandfather; Percy opened a record store called No Limit Records. The controversy around gangsta rap began to make it less attractive to major labels but Miller's experience at his store illustrated to him there was still considerable demand for it. As Master P, Miller formed the gangsta rap act The Real Untouchables (or TRU) with his brothers Corey (now C-Murder) and Vyshonn (now Silkk) as well as his wife (Sonya C) and Big Ed, Daniel Fry, KG, Fonzo, Milkman and Markest Bank.
Master P's debut, Get Away Clean (1991 No Limit), was credited to "Master P also featuring The Real Untouchables" and was split between solo and group efforts. It was followed by Master P's Mama's Bad Boy (1992 No Limit), TRU's Understanding the Criminal Mind (1992 No Limit) and Who's Da Killer? (1993 No Limit). Master P's The Ghetto's Tryin to Kill Me! (1994 New Limit) and the No Limit compilation, West Coast Bad Boyz (which featured Rappin' 4-Tay and E-40) were underground hits and the latter spent over six months on the charts without any national promotion. By the time of his final release as a west coast rapper, 1995's 99 Ways to Die (No Limit), Tupac's influence was strongly evident on P's music, although he still proved to more talented as a businessman than lyricist.
In 1995, the Millers returned to New Orleans and TRU, in the process, was reduced to just Master P, Silkk the Shocker and C-Murder, as the rest of the No Limit roster stayed behind. In New Orleans, P quickly recruited rappers Tre-8 and Mia-X (ex-New York Incorporated) as well as her manager, Tevester Scott, who as Vice President of Business Affairs was put in charge of the label's financial arrangements including accounts, contracts and overseeing payment of royalties.
Much of the rest of the label's signees were drawn from the local label, Parkway Pumpin', run by Craig Lawson aka KLC. Parkway Pumpin' provided Fiend, Mac (rebranded Lil Mac the Lyrical Midget), Mystikal Mike (then having had a locally successful debut on Big Boy Records as Mystikal), Mr. Serv-On and Da Hound (from Da Gert Town Hounds/Full Blooded), Magnolia Slim (now Soulja Slim) and, perhaps most importantly, producer KLC himself. At No Limit, KLC was joined by Mo B. Dick (born Raymond Poole) and Craig B (Craig Bazile) who formed the label's production team, Beats By the Pound. Their instantly recognizable sound was the personnel carrier that transported the No Limit Soldiers to sales that ultimately exceeded fifty million units. Beats By the Pound and Master P's first collaboration was the first double-rap CD, No Limit's Down South Hustlers: Bouncing and Swingin' (1995-No Limit), a compilation of rappers from Missouri, Tennessee, Texas and Louisiana that brought KLC's groundbreaking dirty south sound to a much larger audience.
Master P's first solo album with Beats By the Pound was Ice Cream Man, which reached number six on the R&B charts and was P's first platinum success. Like No Limit's albums that followed, a garish Pen & Pixel-designed album cover was essentially an add sheet for future releases by the label and the nominal solo album squeezed in contributions from most of the label's talent. No Limit's explosive success culminated with a $30 million dollar deal with Priority.
1997's Ghetto D (No Limit) peaked at number one and produced three hits, "I Miss My Homies," "Make 'Em Say Uhh!," and "Burbons and Lacs." The same year, The Ghettos Tryin to Kill Me! was re-released with King George and Rev. Do Wrong edited out and a slightly different track listing. Tru released Tru 2 Da Game (No Limit) as well and had a hit with "I'm Bout It, Bout It," which provided the inspiration for Master P's cinematic debut, I'm Bout It. When Forbes Magazine reported Master P had earned $56.5 million, most were shocked that a musician with zero presence on MTV was suddenly one of the ten most highly paid entertainers of the year.
After the label relocated to Baton Rouge, the No Limit business empire expanded to a total of twelve businesses, including a Foot Locker Franchise, a gas station, a travel agency, a real estate company and a phone sex service. The label shocked the industry when Snoop Doggy Dog jumped ship from Death Row to become No Limit soldier in a major and telling coup. That year, Master P's MP Da Last Don (No Limit) was released and said to be his last. It sold over four million copies. Unlike his film debut, P's I Got the Hook Up, actually played in theaters. After that, P returned to his first love, basketball, auditioning for the Toronto Raptors and ultimately playing for the CBA's Fort Wayne Fury. He also acted in his first him that wasn't also one of his own, The Players Club.
In a major blow to No Limit, 1998 also saw the departure of most of No Limit's roster, including the members of Beats by the Pound (except for later addition, Carlos Stephens). Most of the departing talent blamed not P, but Scott, alleging unfair business practices. At the label's peak, Beats by the Pound had been responsible for the distinct No Limit production on almost ten releases a year. After their departure, the group continued as freelancers under the name, The Medicine Men. No Limit would never again experience the success they'd enjoyed, largely by bankrolling Parkway Pumpin'.
In 1999, Master P tried out for the Charlotte Hornets and 15,000 fans showed up to watch. That year he directed Hot Boyz and No Tomorrow and acted in Foolish. After he failed to make the cut, he came out of his short retirement from rap with Only God Can Judge Me (1999 No Limit) and was, compared to his previous hits, a flop. All the king's horses and all the king's men proved incapable of putting No Limit back together again. 2000's Ghetto Postage (No Limit) was another commercial and critical failure. That year, Master P, C-Murder, Silkk the Shocker, Magic and Krazy formed a new group, The 504 Boyz, whose 5th Ward Weebie-produced "Wobble Wobble" restored some of "the Tank's" luster but hardly signaled No Limit's return..
Meanwhile, P continued to act, appearing in Gone in 60 Seconds, Track Down and Lockdown.
In 2001, Master P announced the creation of The New No Limit. Hot on the heels of Lil' Bow Wow's success, Master P's son, Lil' Romeo released his debut. P released another solo album, Gameface, (2001 No Limit), whose 5th Ward Weebie-produced "Ooohhhwee" was another minor hit. No Limit also entered a joint venture with New Orleans' Take Fo' Records to release Choppa's Choppa Style, which provided them with a modest success. In 2002, P acted in the film, Undisputed. In 2003 The 504 Boyz (then featuring Choppa, and T Bo) released Ballers (No Limit) but thing went downhill again fast. In September, C-Murder was convicted of second degree murder of one of his fans. Take Fo' sued Master P for breach of contract, alleging that No Limit had failed to adequately pay Take Fo' in their joint venture. P settled for an undisclosed sum. Meanwhile, P continued his unlikely acting career, adding Dark Blue and Hollywood Homicide to his acting resume. Before the year closed, however, the once mighty No Limit declared bankruptcy.
After moving to Koch, P released Good Side, Bad Side (Koch 2004) on which he attempted to revive his music career by going crunk. Surprisingly, it reached number eleven. In basketball, P moved to the ABA's Las Vegas Rattlers. He also continued acting, appearing in Scary Movie 3. 2005 brought Ghetto Bill (Koch) and Living Legend: Certified D-Boy. He also returned to the screen with Uncle P, which he'd directed five years earlier. The following year, P proved a good sport, if not a great dancer, appearing on Dancing with the Stars. He also acted in and Repos and released his latest solo album, albeit only over the internet as a digital file, America's Most Luved Bad Guy. In 2007, he directed and starred in Black Supaman. He also joined Romeo and released Hip Hop History (Guttar Music) which to date has sold approximately 32,000 copies. From 2003- 2006 he strred on the Nickolodeon show Romeo! with his son Lil' Romeo, and plans are on the books to release a new LP, Boss Of All Bosses- The Godfather Album, sometime in 2013.