Born on April 29, 1967, Percy Robert Miller, aka Master P, was the eldest of five children raised in a housing project in New Orleansí Third Ward. On his way to being designated one of Americaís 40 Richest People under 40 by Fortune Magazine, he got his start in 1994 by selling a self-produced album, ďThe Ghettoís Tryin to Kill Me,Ē on his own label, No Limit Records, and right out of the trunk of his car.
When major music companies came a calling after they got wind of his success even without the benefit of a major distribution deal, P opted to sign with Priority Records in order to maintain complete creative control. By thus retaining complete ownership of his masters, he was able to become the first hip-hop artist to achieve a net worth in excess of a $100 million, and later $300 million.
This savvy approach would serve him well as he blossomed as an entrepreneur, a path which had him parlaying the profits of his burgeoning financial empire into new ventures in order to diversify his holdings. Besides producing other rappers, including his sons Romeo and Young V, he has invested in everything from clothing lines to fast food franchises to auto parts to publishing to real estate to toys to sports management to phone sex companies to gas stations to telecommunications to, of course, movies.
Percy and Mrs. P, Sonya, and their kids live in L.A. Here, he talks about his new movie, Uncle P, which was recently released straight to DVD.
The Uncle P Interview with Kam Williams
KW: Thanks for the time, P.
MP: No problem, no problem.
KW: What inspired you to make this movie which seems semi-autobiographical?
MP: Yeah, itís about growing, and making changes, and knowing when you have to take steps in your life. Sometimes, you have to change the way you think to grow.
KW: I know that Romeoís your co-star in Uncle P. Were any of your other kids in it?
MP: Romeoís sister is in the film, just in the beginning of it. Sheís definitely an up and coming actress whoíll be getting some little girl roles.
KW: Were you estranged from one of your sisters in real life, like your character in the movie?
MP: No, it was based on an uncle of mine, who was like a total fish out of water, and had to go take care of some kids. This was a message I really wanted to put out there because so many movies suggest that black males arenít family men.
KW: And what would you say is Uncle Pís message?
MP: You really have to deal with whatever your situation is and make the best of it. Thatís the message that I really wanted to get out there for the families. And itís also about seeing your dreams come to life.
KW: I know youíre a family man, how many kids do you have?
MP: I have seven.
KW: God bless you. Youíre the role model for black businessmen everywhere. How did you develop skills in dozens of fields?
MP: You know what, I credit God, and family, and knowledge. I have a book coming out in September called ďGuaranteed Success.Ē Itís a wonderful book. I want kids to understand that anybody can make it as long as they have the knowledge. Thatís why Romeo is going to college. Knowledge can lead to other avenues. You have to find out what your purpose in life is. You can have a U-Haul with all this money and jewels, but you canít take that with you. You have to have a purpose in life. My purpose in life ainít about me, itís about building generational wealth with my family. Thatís why Iím sending my kids to college. I want them to have a better life and better opportunities than me. I want them to be a step up and to be able to do other things. I want them to work hard, because itís a competitive world we live in, and thereís always someone else out there trying to come up with the next great idea. I want to show kids how to diversify and to teach them that we may come from a hip-hop world but we can still go to Wall Street and build equity.
KW: Isnít Romeo also going to play basketball at USC?
MP: Yeah, but heíll also be studying business and film.
KW: Howís the recovery coming in your hometown, New Orleans?
MP: Thereís great progress being made, everybodyís coming together, man. I have a program call www.TeamRescueOne.com, which is doing a lot of things in the community. Itís all about everybody coming together, because I donít care how much youíve got, itís never enough, because there are so many families who lost so much. Itís going to take us a little while, but itís going to be great again in the future.
KW: What advice do you have for kids who want to follow in your footsteps?
MP: Believe in God and in hard work. Believe in yourself, because that will really help in taking what youíre trying to do to the next level. And itís important to remember that nobody can do this by themselves. But if youíre going to be in this business, be the boss of the company.
KW: In this movie youíre constantly being stalked by fans. How much does that happen to you in real life. Can you go to the mall or a movie theater without being mobbed?
MP: I have those problems sometimes, but in Los Angeles they see so many celebrities, they donít go as crazy as people do elsewhere.
KW: A friend of mine who promises not to stalk you, Jimmy Bayan, wants to know where in L.A. do you live?
MP: Beverly Hills.
KW: What aspect of entertainment do you enjoy the most, rapping, acting, or something else?
MP: I think the acting is what I enjoy the most. Making movies, and being able to play different characters.
KW: And do you like being an entertainer or a businessman more?
MP: You know, being a businessman is so important because, like I said before, itís a generational thing for me and my family.
KW: Do you think that there will be a movement away from the curse words and the misogyny in the wake of the Imus firing?
MP: Yeah, I think itís about growing and maturing.
KW: Well congrats on making Uncle P, it is definitely a refreshing change of pace and a sign that youíve matured considerably since from some of those flicks you made early on, like Foolish.
MP: Oh, it is. And itíll definitely show people that you canít judge a book by its cover. We really can grow, if we put our minds to it. Iím not afraid to say that I was once a part of the problem. Now Iím trying to be a part of the solution. And, just like you said, thatís what growing up is all about.
KW: I appreciate your honesty, and thanks again for the interview, P.
Copyright © 1997-2007 AALBC.com - http://aalbc.com