As founder and CEO of No Limit Records, rapper, actor and entrepreneur Master P has erected a gleaming hip-hop empire through grass-roots marketing, stellar talent and an ingenious business approach. Over the last four years, No Limit Records has sold over 35 million albums with artists including Master P himself, Snoop Dogg, Mystikal, Silkk the Shocker, C-Murder and others. Master P's numerous business ventures -- which include No Limit Clothing, No Limit Films, No Limit Toys, PM Properties, Advantage Travel and a retail chain called Master Feet -- have won him the attention of Wall Street and its attendant media. Fortune magazine featured Master P on the cover of its September 1999 issue, proclaiming him one of the 40 richest men under age 40. For two consecutive years, the rapper was featured on Forbes list of highest paid entertainers.
By 1998, No Limit was such a stupendous success that Master P announced he was retiring to oversee the bustling empire. Fortunately, the rapper's hiatus was short-lived. He capped 2000 by releasing Ghetto Postage, a 23-song CD in which the rapper celebrates his hip-hop dominance. At times dramatic, vulgar and comic, Ghetto Postage possesses the inner city feel of a '70s blaxploitation flick.
Though Master P is an undeniable success, have his entrepreneurial accomplishments come at the expense of artistic respect? The vast majority of Master P news items center on his business empire, while downplaying his musical feats. Is Master P the genuine hip-hop article, or simply an ingenious marketer?
It appears he is both. Some might say Master P's success underscores the philosophical differences between Baby Boomers and the Digital Generation. Where musicians of the late '60s and early '70s frowned on conspicuous wealth and fame, contemporary rappers like Master P passionately embrace success. In hip-hop's flashier enclaves, artists are only as credible as their sales attest. Master P's remarkable business acumen, rap skills and multimillion-dollar sales affirm his commercial and musical credibility. Consider this: No Limit may be the most successful independent black recording company since Motown.
Born and raised in the Third Ward Calliope projects in New Orleans, Master P witnessed crushing poverty and its criminal effects early in life. In 1990, the rapper moved to Richmond, CA and opened the No Limit Record Store, which became the launch pad for No Limit Records. Returning to his home turf of New Orleans, the rapper began to appreciate his potential. Through trial and error, Master P slowly parlayed his initial $10,000 investment into a multimillion-dollar corporation.
Master P has also enjoyed great success in the urban film and direct home-video market. Among his self-directed, independently financed movies and videos are I'm Bout It(1997), I Got The Hook Up (1998) and Foolish (1999). In summer 2000, Master P appeared in Touchstone Pictures' Gone in 60 Seconds with Nicolas Cage and Angelina Jolie.
Today, Master P looms as a symbol of Yankee-style upward mobility and sheer determination. In an audacious demonstration of his confidence, the rap impresario tried out for the Charlotte Hornets during the strike-shortened 1998 NBA season. Not surprisingly, he made the final cut.