Master P’s closet must be huge, because the man has worn quite a few hats throughout his extraordinary career. With over twenty years of blood, sweat and tears invested in the game, the former Ice Cream Man has been called everything from an independent label genius and self-made millionaire to Nickelodeon dad and Dancing With The Stars cast member.
Yet, Percy Miller’s roller coaster of success would never have been possible without his relentless studio grind. With 12 studio albums to his credit, countless compilations and group success spread throughout his own TRU family, this New Orleans MC-turned-entrepreneur overtook the game during the late 90s with a self-made mindset that would change how rappers branded themselves forever.
To highlight the music that made No Limit an independent powerhouse and turned their camouflage-sporting commander into one of the game’s most notable figures, we present The Primer: Master P.
The Primer Series: 10 De La Soul Songs Everyone Should Know | Ice Cube | J Dilla | EPMD Songs | Twista | E-40 | Naughty By Nature | Beastie Boys | DMX | UGK | Bone Thugs-N-Harmony | Big Daddy Kane | DJ Quik | Public Enemy
1. “The Ghettos Tryin’ to Kill Me!”
With operations out West and production partners like JT Tha Bigga Figga, E-A-Ski and CMT, Master P’s earlier material carried a clear Bay Area bias, despite his southern roots. This title track to Percy’s third album embodies that funkier feel, producing a slow-motion, paranoid ode to the G-Code from the No Limit leader and his younger brother Silkk Tha Shocker.
2. “When They Gone”
For this stand-out from his 99 Ways To Die album from 1995, Percy spoke from his soul about his fallen brother Kevin, pondering profound thoughts over Al Eaton’s harrowing organs and providing further insight into the man behind the business.
3. “I’m Bout It Bout It”
Technically a song with his two brothers Silkk and C-Murder as TRU, this single became the epitome of P’s career when their group album True dropped in 1995. Featuring a signature gangsta’ whistle, stupid sub-bass and an all-around venomous feel, this extremely mean Beats By The Pound production provided the Miller boys with a quintessential template to their drawled-out southern street rhymes and was eventually retouched by everyone from Cam’ron to Curren$y.
4. “Playaz From The South”
Flipping tight on that white might’ve been helping Percy stay flossed in 1995, but breaking bread with equally-established southern counterparts UGK and turning out church-approved jewels like this only further solidified his presence as more than a hustler. Plus, reputable compilations like Down South Hustlers: Bouncin’ & Swingin’ showcased the keen eye for talent he’d eventually become known for.
5. “Mr. Ice Cream Man”
Don’t let the colorful paint job and cute jingle fool, Master P ain’t your average neighborhood sundae peddler. Instead, the South’s fastest rising star in 1996 delivered this down-tempo dedication to serving the fiends from his album of the same name, which would eventually go platinum. However, while P’s mic fundamentals were noticeably getting better, much of his independent crossover success was thanks to a monumental distribution deal he was able to leverage for No Limit with Priority Records the year prior.
6. “Break ‘Em Off Something”
Another sweet serving from the Ice Cream Man, this low down and swanging cut found the New Orleans boss flossing with UGK once again, threatening to break off any skeptics with much more than their backhand. Hustling, balling and cap-peeling aside, this decorated pairing brought the best of out everyone, as all three OGs still sound seething as anyone atop Pimp C’s candy-painted organs and plotting production.
7. “Ghetto Dope”
There’s nothing that says keeping it real like starting both your song and album with cocaine, bubbling on a stove. Plus, mixing in an interpolation of Eric B & Rakim, then flipping the hook to compliment an instructional song about whipping up hard? Well, that’s the type of rawness you were getting from the TRU clique in 1997, as they ushered in their most refined project to date in Ghetto D – an album packed with southern-fried G-Funk that would end up selling more than three million copies and become the pinnacle of P’s storied career.
8. “I Miss My Homies”
When Ghetto D dropped in late 1997, two of hip-hop’s biggest players had recently passed and broken family ties were still fresh in his rearview. So, instead of bottling up the pain, Percy Miller recruited his down south homie Sweet Jones, brother Silkk and a cast of No Limit’s finest vocalists for this timely dedication to the fallen soldiers worldwide.
9. “Make ‘Em Say Uhh!”
Whether you love the song or want to rip your hair out upon hearing the first horn strike, this boisterous Ghetto D single had Master P climbing the Billboard charts in 1997 faster than ever and everyone from your granny to Shaq shouting along. The track has since been put on numerous “Worst Of” lists, yet stands the test of time regardless and remains P’s most notable release. In our opinion, the track’s worth the spins for the features alone. “They heard we scary, No Limit mercenary…”
10. “Burbans & Lacs”
Yes, this is the fourth song from Ghetto D on a list of ten. Yet, that’s part of the reason the album stands so tall. Aside from essential singles, the orange-plastic LP is filled front to back with an assortment of stand-out tracks and this bottomless automobile anthem is one that still makes the rotation of reclined riders worldwide.