From the Vaults: Master P, circa 1992

The other day, while going through some old boxes in my garage I found a box of cassette tapes. Most of them were unmarked. I put some of them in my recorder and to my amazement they had old interviews with Master P and many other Bay Area and LA giants. But these interviews were […]

The other day, while going through some old boxes in my garage I found a box of cassette tapes. Most of them were unmarked. I put some of them in my recorder and to my amazement they had old interviews with Master P and many other Bay Area and LA giants. But these interviews were done before most of these rappers had national acclaim.

This is the first installment of flashback interviews that will share with the world over the next year. This first interview with Master P was originally done for the now dead Rap Pages magazine in 1992.

The only people that knew P was raw were in the Bay and down South. One crazy thing about this interview is that everything he said he would do- he did. You will also notice the names of other rappers mentioned that are all giants in their own right. Take note of the 5-Star General before the tank was gold plated. What brought you to California?

Master P: Well basically I moved to California to get away from the neighborhoods and the atmosphere I was in. They always told me that “if you can get to California you can make it”. You see Hollywood and stuff. I was looking for a place to be successful at what I was doing. Where exactly are you from? New Orleans, right?

P: Yeah, a place called the Calliope Projects. What year did you come out here?

P: I came out here in ‘89. Were you already doing Hip-Hop in New Orleans?

P: Yeah, basically I was doing it, but in a place like that…It’s not really known for Hip-Hop. I think I was a little bit above the time where I was at. I need to go somewhere else I could go to make it all happen. My parents wanted to move out here so I just came with them. So you came from New Orleans to Richmond, CA?

P: Yeah. So what was it like when you started doing Hip-Hop in ‘89? Was it easy to come up?

P: It wasn’t that easy because I had to learn all new styles and trends to be able to compete, with what was going on out here. I had to learn the game. I had to get better and better to make it fit, to make it all happen. Now this is not your first release right?

P: No, my first release was called Momma’s Bad Boy. You put that out when?

P: I put that out two years ago with In-A-Minute Records. And how was the response from that?

P: [Mmiles] Awwww, that’s that brought it to this here. The response that I got with it- was just cool. Instead of getting just California response I got down South response. That let people know I had a universal sound. I just had to upgrade it to get it what I got till now. So how did you hook up with JT The Bigga Figga and San Quinn?

P: Basically, we all kicked it at shows and stuff. We eventually hooked up and said, ‘Lets do something’, and we did it. Most people would think that there would be set trippin’ between you guys, but there isn’t.

P: The thing is, all that set trippin’ is with people in the game. With the rappers, it ain’t really like that. That’s why we’re trying to unite and show everybody that it’ ain’t the rappers that got problems. If you got problems with someone in my hood, go take it out on them- don’t take it out on me- ‘cause I’m makin’ records. People think if you from Richmond that you ain’t supposed to sell in Oakland or Frisco. Or if you from Frisco you ain’t supposed to sell in Richmond. But all you guys are sellin’. How are all these MC’s selling and not bleeding over into the next man’s market? I mean, you, JT, Mac Mall, E-40, all y’all sellin’ about the same amount of records. Everybody is still getting fed when it’s all over.

P: Because you can’t playa hate if it’s good. Like, whoever thought that I’d be selling 500-600 tapes a week in Oakland? It’s just unreal. Now it’s happening, because you can only playa-hate but so much. Then you gotta recognize games. If it’s tight, you gotta go out and get it, eventually. So what motivated you to start your own business?

P: I wanted to do something that I could control. Not only did I wanna be a rapper, but I wanted to be a business man. Because rappin’ don’t last forever. I need to be able to control what I am doing and market myself to the public. so when it’s all said and done, what do you want to be doing? Where is Master P gonna be five years from now?

P: I’m gonna be in movies- on TV. Doing stuff like that. Chillin’, havin’ fun. I’m gonna be going on trips and appreciating all the hard work that I’ve put in. I don’t wanna be like the other rappers sitting back famous – and broke. Most of the rappers are getting pimped. I think that’s the main reason I wanted to start my own business. I ain’t got time to get pimped. If I put all my hard work and energy into it, I wanna get paid. You do a lot of other shows in other states. Where are some of the places you have gone?

P: Kentucky, Seattle, New Orleans, Dallas, Cincinnati, Chicago. That’s the other game that I got that these other rappers do not realize- see…every city I hit, I’m promoting down there. ‘Cause every city got they own top local acts. But if I come there as a major act and promote me being major…they gotta buy it. How are you received in a city like Chicago?

P: Who knows that No Limit is an independent label in Chicago? They don’t know! The only place they know- is in California. So when I go there, and they see all my gear and all my product- they have to assume it’s top notch. When I listen to your album, and I listen to it many times by the way…it seems like you had a very painful life. What keeps you going?

P: What keeps me going is all the people that did not have a chance to do what I am doing. Like my brother, he did not get a chance to see this, because he got killed. A lot of my partners did not make it out. I’m trying to show that there is another way out the streets besides the dope game. Me and all my partners, we been through a lot. Kinda like up and down, up and down…but I think we gonna make it if we stick together. That’s if we wanna be real. Now the ones that don’t wanna be real, they gonna fall off. But the ones that have been through the struggle like I have been through the struggle, we all gonna help one another make it to the top. The thing is in this game you can only go so much without being legit.

So, I profess in my songs, the struggle of my neighborhood. The struggle that’s going on in all the neighborhoods. I know everybody can relate to, ‘The Ghetto is trying to kill me’. I know everybody can to when somebody is trying to rob you. You gotta watch your back when you leave the house. You think to yourself, ‘Damn why is it like that?’ But I know one day it’s gonna be all worth it. That’s why I chose this route instead of the other route. How much has the money you have been making erased the pain?

P: I can sleep better. I don’t have to worry about the police kicking my door in. I aint’ gotta worry about the partners I’m with, trying to get me. In that game [the dope game] you cant trust nobody. So, I mean…what I found out is that it takes money to make money…Instead of going and buying a big car, I started making these compilation tapes…Called the West Coast Bad Boys…Like everybody you know that’s poppin’…Like C-Bo, JT, RBL, 4Tay, EA-Ski, I got ‘em all on one tape. I got other acts like the Real Untouchables, Sonia C, The Bad Girls, Lil Rick…It takes money to make money.

Adisa Banjoko is author to the highly controversial Lyrical Swords Vol. 1: Hip Hop and Politics in the Mix. Go buy one today at !!