Make Em Say Uh: Master P Is Hip-Hop's Original Business Man
On Kanye West's "Diamonds From Sierra Leone" Jay-Z once said "I'm not a businessman, I'm a business, man!"
That line resonated with hip-hop fans as we've seen the rise of the "businessman" in the genre. Acts such as Jay-Z, Diddy, 50 Cent, Kanye West and Dr. Dre are most notably known for striking lucrative deals and expanding their brands to unforeseen heights.
The late Nipsey Hussle preached "ownership" throughout his music, and was also able to structure deals with Puma that expanded his Marathon brand. But there is someone we don’t talk about enough when we discuss businessmen.
In the 90’s we were introduced to Master P, the man who would change the perception of hip-hop artists in the business world and inspire the entrepreneurial minds we know today.
Born Percy Robert Miller, Master P was raised in New Orleans famed Calliope Projects. Miller’s athletic prowess allowed him to attend the University of Houston on a basketball scholarship, however he transferred after his freshman year to Merrit College in Oakland California where he majored in Business management.
After the passing of his grandfather P inherited $10,000 which he used to open a record label titled “No Limit Records” which became the foundation of his revolutionary label.
In 1995, Master P moved back to New Orleans and relocated No Limit Records from the San Francisco Bay Area. Master P finally got his first hit single with the "Mr. Ice Cream Man" which was released on April 16, 1996.
In 1996 Master P turned down a $1 million deal from Jimmy Iovine and signed a music distribution deal with Priority Records negotiating that No Limit Records would retain 100% ownership of their master recordings and keep 85% of their record's sales giving Priority 15% in return for distribution.
During the 1990s, No Limit Record defined New Orleans hip-hop for national audiences. P was able to put on several Louisiana artists such as Mia X, Mystikal, Fiend, Soulja Slim, Kane & Abel, Magic, and Skull Duggery.
Master P was instrumental in getting Snoop Dogg out of his contract with Death Row Records. While the terms of the deal were never made public, it was speculated that Miller agreed to pay Knight millions for the rights to sign Snoop. Nevertheless, the deal was soon finalized and the rest is history.
No Limit had enormous commercial success, selling more than fifty million gangsta rap albums during their run. A lot of that was due to the fact that Master P branded all his albums.
The use of pen and pixel graphics, and Mafia-inspired themes made the No Limit albums stand out with the use of Photoshop.
Before it was commonplace to have a large track-list on an album, P and his imprint were offering 20 songs per album, as Miller learned that customers wanted more for their money.
Master P arguably has also set the trend for diverse business portfolios in hip-hop. The No Limit CEO launched a sports management company, a clothing line, a real estate firm, a phone sex business, a high end travel agency, a video game company, a film studio and a the popular potato chip snack "Rap Snacks"
Although No Limit's impact in music started to decrease in the early 2000's Master P is undoubtedly Hip-Hop's original "businessman.”
Master P has done it all from being a platinum artist, and playing in the NBA to staring in several of his own films and even starring a long side his son Lil Romeo on the hit Nickelodeon show "Romeo!"
His wittiness and business aucumen allowed P to create several lucrative businesses which in turn created generational wealth setting his family up to be successful for the long run. Master P has also never forgotten where he came from and continues to give back to his neighborhood and various inner city communities around the country.
Here's to black excellence and prolonged success Percy Miller.