Master P Shares His Theories On Why ‘Hip Hop Is Dying So Young’ + How To Save The Culture


Exclusive – Percy “Master P” Miller was the subject of TV One’s UNCENSORED series on Sunday (March 20). The hour-long documentary dove headfirst into the No Limit Records CEO’s childhood, journey from the National Basketball Association to record store owner and eventually, platinum-selling rapper and successful business mogul.

Master P, who’s historically full of sage advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, begins the documentary by saying, “Know your value and know your worth,” a message that still resonates with him today. In a recent interview with HipHopDX, Master P explained how his grandparents helped drill those messages into his head, giving him the confidence to pursue his dreams.

“They always told me know your value, know your worth,” he said. “It’s just something that stuck with me. I realized that a lot of people are going to use you or take advantage of you, but you have to know what you worth, and don’t be afraid to pass up a deal because you know your value. I wouldn’t be where I’m at right now if I hadn’t give up a lot of stuff or passed it up. I feel that a lot, and so I don’t use it as a loss. I use it as a lesson.

“Every time I fail, I get back up and trying to figure it out, like, ‘How can I do this better?’ I even talk about in music how I wasn’t the best artist in the world, but I had to figure it out, watching 2Pac, watching all those guys, it motivated me watching they work ethics.”

But Master P almost took a different route that would have deterred him from greatness. Growing up in the Calliope Projects of New Orleans, the pressure to join a gang or participate in other nefarious activities was palpable. He knew at a young age he wanted something different for his life.

“Looking at what other people going through, you start seeing yourself, knowing that one day, this could be you watching so many young people around me die,” he explained. “I start realizing that I don’t want this to be me. I want to be able to have a life. I want to be able to have a family. I need to do right myself. I need to self-discipline myself. I need to police myself. I think a lot of young people don’t understand that because you get caught up in the crowd.

“That’s why I go back to the lion again. Because you know, we start thinking like a lion, you don’t have to be a follower. You could be a leader because a lion could lead sheeps to the promised land, but a sheep could never lead a lion. Those are type of things that just, I had to look at myself and say, ‘Am I going to be a sheep or I’m going to be a lion?’ When I start realizing that I’m going to be a lion, I need to make some changes in my life and I don’t want to die young. You look at this culture right now, Hip Hop is dying so young.”

Master P’s sentiment couldn’t be more accurate. Whether it’s drug overdoses or gun violence, young rappers are dying at an alarming rate. In 2021 alone, over two dozen aspiring local rappers (Boog The Bandit, Hot Boy Ju) and more familiar names (Young Dolph, Drakeo The Ruler) were murdered. Most recently, a burgeoning Miami rapper named Big Cino was fatally shot just minutes after walking out of jail. He was just 20 years old.

“Think about it,” Master P continued. “It’s because of the drugs and people not being held accountable. As a young person, we always say, ‘Oh, he’s young, but she’s young. Let them go, do. They going to figure it out.’ Everybody don’t figure it out. You either going to be a tragedy or testimony. A lot of people don’t get to be a testimony. It normally don’t work like your situation, my situation, it don’t happen that often.

“Even that you look at this culture in Hip Hop why we dying so young, because we don’t have the right leadership or the right older people around us to tell us that we wrong, because we just see the money. ‘Oh, these guys making money.’ Even the parents end up being friends. One thing I love about my parents and my grandparents, they never was my friends. When I went to them, I know that I got the real. I think that people as parents, if you got a young person that’s in Hip Hop, or just in general, in life, stop trying to cheat the game.”

He added, “Stop trying to just have fun with your kids. I just think that’s the only way we’re going to save this culture. Because like I said, everybody is not going to overcome all this adversity. Because I got friends that died, I know you probably had it, too. My daughter just had her friend, a 19-year-old girl that died. So drugs do kill. I think a lot of people party and don’t want to look. Look at all the artists we know that died, and then they got into beefs and all these different things. I think it is a lack of education.”

At one point in the UNCENSORED documentary, Master P talked about the late Nipsey Hussle and how shocked he was to see he didn’t start selling albums until he was killed. Jealousy often plays a role in these targeted hits, which is why some of the OGs of the culture frown upon bragging about material items and cash on social media.

“Let’s talk about the bragging of the money,” P said. “I was just watched [former Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group] Doug Morris. He made billions of dollars off urban music. He said it himself. Why was Universal so successful? Because Cash Money. They had Death Row. They had all these urban companies. Those companies didn’t make the money that they made. You could push this money up on whatever you putting it up and sell how much money you got. Wealth is not to be counted.

“The people that got real wealth and real money, it’s numbers. That’s why I say education is so important. If you look at Mike Caren from Atlantic Records, what he was able to build in eight years. He built the company in eight years and took all these big artists. You could go and pull this up, look at it and see he made $255 million. He sold his company back to Atlantic, and now he’s getting a check from Atlantic. He’s probably the president of the company, and so he’s getting a check and he got $255 million off of urban orders. These guys are not going to make that type of money. A lot of these guys arguing and fussing back with the companies, but guess what? They killing each other.”

Master P then tied the conversation back to Nipsey Hussle and pointed out even the most talented artists in the world hit a peak.

“Nobody has a conflict or a beef with any of these major labels,” he said. “They’ve been doing this for years. But it’s a lack of education because we too busy trying to get high. I tell people all the time, we all got 24 hours. If you spending your 24 hours getting high, you’re never going to have anything. And then if you have talent, you’re not going to be that talented forever.

“Michael Jackson, Prince, all those guys — and they’re not here no more — but guess what? Before they left, even though these are like gods to us, at one time in they life, people stopped buying their music. They started back buying their music when they died. That’s when I realized product outweighs talent, and so my thing is that you use this moment, whether you a basketball player, football player, or entertainer, or a rapper or whatever, you use that for a moment to get into something else.”

And that’s precisely what Master P has done. From Uncle P’s food products, Rap Snacks and Master Crunch Cereal to No Limit Enterprises and Make Em Say Ughh energy drinks, there really is no limit for what Master P wants to do. But the clock is ticking.

“My thing is we got to start using our minds now and start thinking outside of the box to say, ‘We have to educate ourselves,’ especially when you get some money,” he said. “If you don’t educate yourself, you are not going to be around and you’re going to die young because you don’t care about it. A lot of these guys really want to die young. They doing it. Think about it. You know drugs kill you, why you keep doing it? A lot of people don’t want to be it because they realize they don’t want to get older; because they don’t have a plan for the future.

“Spend your time wisely. Take them 24 hours out the day and invest it into something positive. That’s the only reason me and you is here because we started investing our time into something positive. All that negative stuff, you got to replace it with something positive.”