Sitting among carved mahogany wood paneled accents and with displayed awards gathered from an unrivaled multi-hyphenate career, Master P began our conversation by allowing me to take the floor. Not surprisingly, he is a master delegator with a brilliant sense of when to shoot the ball and when to pass it. One of the greatest minds to emerge from the 1990s hip hop pantheon, Percy “Master P” Miller transcended a childhood of poverty in New Orleans’ Calliope Projects, to become a beacon of generational wealth, diversified business interests, and ownership in an industry once notorious for exploiting its artists. From music, movies, and real estate, to the food and automotive industries, his portfolio continues to grow.
A true gentleman who prefers to remain above the fray of controversy and relishes sharing the spotlight with those around him, Master P’s example and mentorship has guided artists from Snoop Dogg, Lil’ Wayne, and 2 Chainz, to his eldest son, rapper, actor and entrepreneur, Romeo Miller. Master P understood the power of ownership long before Instagram and the age of celebrity branding. Romeo Miller credits his father’s example as the driving force in his own life. He tells me, “Growing up watching one of the best and most powerful businessmen to ever do it guided me to be the man I am today. And according to Romeo, his father’s lessons went well beyond material success. “The biggest lesson I learned from him was to simply be a good person. Owning a business and brand doesn’t matter if you aren’t giving back.”
Master P’s latest project is the upcoming film, #Unknown, a creative collaboration with his son and co-executive producer, Romeo Miller; and the film’s producer, writer, and director, LazRael Lison. Lison describes the film as, “a mystery thriller that gets pretty intense, and great for this Halloween season.”
Master P plays the mayor of a town in a string of alleged unsolved murders, as a local novelist abandons his second book to attempt to solve the mystery of these crimes; his own life unraveling in the process.
When it comes to directing the man who is used to calling the shots, LazRael Lison sings his praises, recalling, “Master P went over and beyond,” adding, “it’s always so cool when you can see the Executive Producer also be a student. As a businessman, P wears so many hats and that requires flexibility. As a director, I’m always flexible in the sense that I can write it on paper, but when you give a soul to that character, it’s all you. Watching P bring [this role] to life, when people see him, they’ll think, ‘Wow, I really enjoyed that!’”
Allison Kugel: What are the top three things that have shaped the person you are today?
Master P: I would first say God, my kids, my family, and just being able to be blessed.
Allison Kugel: But is there anything in your life that was a turning point, that completely transformed you?
Master P: I started realizing that we don’t have to dwell on our past, that it’s okay to move forward; it’s okay to better yourself. It’s ok to have faith. Nobody is perfect. That’s what it was for me. I feel like once I started having kids, I realized I have more to live for and I wanted to be around to watch them grow up, so I had to start making the right choices. And I want other people to say, “If P can do it, I can do it. It’s okay to better yourself.” One thing my grandfather always told me was, “If you want to better yourself and you want to live longer, mind your business and stay out of other people’s business.”
Allison Kugel: Growing up where you did, what gave you the power of belief that you could become everything you ultimately became?
Master P: It was my grandfather, but it was also knowing if you don’t have anything, you can still make the best out of what you have. I think a lot of people don’t realize that just having life, even with what we are going through now, through this pandemic, you never know when somebody is going to walk out that door and you’re never going to see them again. When you live in poverty, you know the only way is up. That’s what pushed me and motivated me, and I think we shouldn’t want to be around people that hold us back. Even in poverty, I started realizing that if I’m going to be successful, I have to cut the negative people around me off. Everybody has 24 hours. A lot of people are mad at other people and judging what other people have. That hate ends up being more important than the positive. It becomes more important than you making it out or bettering yourself. So, I started celebrating people. When I was living in poverty, I started looking at other people who had a nice car or a nice house, and I started being happy for them. When you can be happy for somebody else’s success, blessings will start coming to you. Everybody wants to get to the bag, but you are never going to get to the bag being negative, envious, and jealous. Pride took the devil out of heaven, and he took three fourths of the angels with him. We have to stop that pride, put that to the side and say, “Let me invest my time into something positive, and into me being a better person.”
Allison Kugel: You started off as a basketball player. Was music your Plan B?