Exclusive: Master P On The Power Of HBCUs, Economic Empowerment And Generational Wealth
The multi-hyphenate is one of few to lead by example in building an empire and establishing career longevity.
April 07, 2021 at 4:48 pm
Percy Miller, better known as Master P, has always been a brilliant businessman, and if you grew up in the '90s, chances are you undoubtedly wanted to be a No Limit soldier. As the founder of No Limit Records, one of the biggest and greatest independent record labels, he forever changed the game. The New Orleans native is an invaluable asset to the music industry and, most importantly, the community.
Disrupting the status quo and laying a path to generational wealth summarizes his trajectory. From clothing to film, real estate, food products, mass media, and the list goes on, by creating various business ventures throughout the years, he is one of the few to set the example of building an empire and career longevity.
Now, he has his sights set on a new entrepreneurial endeavor. And with his son recently committing to Tennessee State University (TSU), an HBCU located in Nashville, Tennessee, the mogul is on the right track toward his newfound desire to become more actively involved with HBCUs.
In support of BET's docuseries Boiling Point, in which Master P makes a guest appearance, we spoke with the five-time Grammy Award winner about the longstanding effects on his hometown following Hurricane Katrina, closing the racial wealth gap, his impact on the industry and what prompted him to transition his frame of mind behind the power of HBCUs.
Blavity: Can you describe growing up in New Orleans? And what is something about your hometown you carry with you?
Master P: Growing up in New Orleans was tough for me. I grew up in poverty, but what I carry with me from my hometown is not to be afraid of the unknown. Even though I grew up in a tough place, it taught me how to be tough, it taught me how to overcome adversity, and it taught me how to keep going. When you look at Hurricane Katrina, when the levees broke, a lot of people gave up. Many people thought life was over, but we rose back up, and we kept going.
Blavity: Speaking of Hurricane Katrina, looking back, what do you think it taught us about the meaning of racism?
MP: Racism is real. And you look at what was happening in the Black communities and how the white communities were able to deal with bouncing back. It's different for me because I am from New Orleans, and I know you have good people and bad people. Racism still exists in the world, but I try to touch it from the heart, saying the bad people have to be accountable for their actions no matter what they do, and the good people need to be celebrated. We can't change the past, but we can change the future through economic empowerment.
Blavity: There's been a lot of discussion around closing the racial wealth gap and many suggestions to do so. In your words, what do you think collectively is the key to closing the racial wealth gap?
MP: It's all about economic empowerment. Let's figure out how to obtain some of this wealth to build generational wealth, to take care of the elderly and the kids in our community. It all starts with education. Everybody thinks it's with money, but it's all with knowledge and wisdom.
We need to educate our culture on financial literacy. Even when you look at HBCUs, we have to prepare the students with better living arrangements, better books, better technology, and computers. All these different things are all preparation. We need to add economics and banking into our school system, and we need to hold ourselves accountable. We're talking about building that gap and leveling the playing field. We're talking about financial literacy, and I think that's the page we have to be on.
Blavity: What prompted you to begin researching the history and legacy behind HBCUs to transition your frame of mind?
MP: When the NBA had the All-Star game and featured HBCUs, I said, 'This is amazing.' Then I researched. I Googled. When I Googled who owns HBCUs and who are the founders of HBCUs, I was shocked. That's when I said, 'We have to change that narrative because we can't even control the education that we're giving to our culture because we don't even own it.'
I want it to be more of us. And if you get a lot of business people, in this 21st century, that says, 'Let me figure out how to create our own, and be a part of an HBCU,' to where now, we're making sure we have the right education, and we're feeding that knowledge. It's all about information and knowledge. When we're feeding that to our culture, then we're going to be able to go even further. But with a lack of information and knowledge, we're stuck. That's when I started thinking about it, and I said, 'Wow, imagine if we could change that narrative.' That's all it was.
Blavity: When you say you want to own an HBCU, do you mean you want to be on the board of trustees or create an endowment to put money back into specific institutions?
MP: All of the above. I love our people. I want to educate us; that's my whole thing. I feel like if we start there, we're going to get closer to the dreams and goals. Maybe we might not see it during our lifetime, but me putting that light bulb on and investing into this, I think that the changes will start. It'll put that light bulb on for more African American business owners to say, 'You know what? Let's invest into the next generation.'
Blavity: Throughout the years, artists like 2 Chainz, Solange, and so many others have spoken about their admiration and appreciation for you and your legacy. How would you describe your significant effect on the music industry?
MP: I think I was the guy that taught the music industry how to know your worth. How to get value out of your craft, and how to make money off of what you're going to sacrifice and put your time into. When I first got into the music industry, many African Americans, even artists, weren't making money. They were good, getting advanced checks, and after seeing my career, they wanted more.
I think that's what life is. Sometimes you have to learn from the people that came before you, and I think that's what I gave to the game. I'm constantly trying to provide that knowledge, wisdom, and financial advice that we're more than just artists. We're more than just entertainers and athletes. Be a business. Be a brand and know your self-worth.