12. Master P, Ice Cream Man (1996)
Best Songs: "Break 'Em Off Something" f/ UGK, "Bout It, Bout It II," "Mr. Ice Cream Man," "No More Tears"
Percy Miller never shied away from a good gimmick, and in 1996, as the world was first catching wind of Master P, he introduced himself as a new character, the Ice Cream Man. Complete with a wicked interpretation of the children’s folk song “Pop Goes The Weasel,” P used the Ice Cream Man as a metaphor for the ultimate hustler. Whether you were slanging dope or rap tapes, it didn’t matter, as long as you were moving product for profit, you too could be an Ice Cream Man.
P, whose early work made waves in the Bay Area, had left Cali for greener pastures in New Orleans. He took the Ice Cream Man-metaphor with him. P’s use of the moniker was a bone of contention in the Yay, as the Luniz claimed they’d invented the phrase and that P was nothing but a biter (to be fair, the Luniz and Dru Down began using “the Ice Cream Man” in 1994). But while the Luniz tried to get an anti-P campaign off the ground, P’s popularity soared, and the album quickly went platinum. P’s all-white Dickie’s suits and ice cream truck-driving marketing scheme paid off.
Ice Cream Man was P’s first major look as a solo artist after scoring the distribution deal with Priority, and his gruff street tales and gangsta rap persona took off almost immediately. No Limit became the South’s answer to Death Row Records, who ruled the charts at the time. P became an underground hero with this album, as it paired the best sounds from the west coast and the south; it was truly rap gumbo. The album also produced three of P’s biggest cult hits to date, “Break Em Off Somethin” with UGK, “Bout It, Bout It II,” and “Mr. Ice Cream Man.” A star was born with this release.