"It Might Save Your Life": Master P on Solange's New Album and Staying Independent
The No Limit general explains how he wound up narrating Solange's excellent new album.
Image via Complex Original
A Seat at the Table, Solange's excellent new album, is a tribute to both self and black empowerment, with the younger Knowles sister fully coming into her own on a supremely successful level. But as Solange finds and masters her voice, an unexpected one appears as a narrator of sorts throughout the project. Master Percy Miller, the No Limit general and triple OG entrepreneur himself, has at least five full minutes of dialogue broken up into interludes that help guide the album thematically.
On tracks like "The Glory Is in You" and "The Chosen Ones," Master P draws parallels between his own storied rise to self-made mogul-status—particularly his insistence on doing it independently—and the overarching themes of empowerment and agency. P is simultaneously the elder statesmen imparting decades of worth of wisdom to Solange, the music industry, and aspirational Blacks, as well as a fellow Southerner commiserating on it all as an equal. The collaboration isn't as random as it might seem—one of the album's primary interests is in the Knowles family's roots, which stem from P's own Louisiana.
We hopped on the phone with Master P to learn how it all came about, his thoughts on the Black community's current status in America, and what he's up to now. With a biopic, a video game, and music both from himself and artists he's mentoring coming soon, Master Percy shows no signs of slowing down.
How did you narrating A Seat at the Table come about?
[Solange] reached out to me. She's been a big fan of my music even when she was younger and she was like, "I'm doing this project, I want to make it different, I want to make it special. Would you come say a couple words on it, narrate a couple songs on it?" It was all love.
[This album] happened the way it was supposed to happen because she's a star and it's her time. Like I told her, I said, a lot of people looking at Beyoncé, and Beyoncé is a superstar, she deserves that. But Solange has always been different, and if you're persistent, and you keep believing in something, then you're gonna create your own fanbase. And she [did that] outside of being in the shadow of her sister.
That's what I love about her, she's always been independent, she don't care about what people say, what people think about her, you know, she's a fighter. She got that same spirit, reminds me of my daughter, Cymphonique. Certain people, especially women, when you see that, you root for them, and you wanna be there for them and you wanna help them and you just want to see them win. Solange spent a lot of time in New Orleans, so we got a lot in common. She's about helping the people and the community, after Hurricane Katrina. I saw that stardom in her and I just wanted to help her bring that out and let the world see that and notice it.
How did she describe the album to you?
She told me it's gonna be soulful. There's a lot of things going on [in the country], a lot of injustice, women not believing in their beauty and who they are. She told me that she was going doing her, she was sticking by what
she's a fighter. She got that same spirit, reminds me of my daughter.
she believes in—she wasn't trying to make a record for everybody, she was trying to make a record for her fans and also make music that the world could relate to and for people to understand that we are kings and queens.
That's what I brought to the project, to let the world know that we brought a lot of this gold and diamonds and stones over here to America, so we came here as kings and queens. Look at our cultures—they brought us over here and turned us into slaves but a lot of these African-Americans were kings and queens, and I understood what the movement was with the project she was making and with the police brutality and the African American people that are dying in our culture, she's about our people and using her voice and standing out and being different. I applaud that.
The album is unique, and I feel like it's gonna make a difference in a lot of young girls' lives. Whether you're white, black, Asian, you know, it don't matter. I feel like this project is gonna be motivation to women all across the world and also men are gonna like it too.
With everything going on in the country, it's exactly the album we needed right now.
Were the interludes borne out of you and her just recording a conversation?
Yeah, it's a conversation. There wasn't a lot of people in the studio, it was an intimate setting with the engineer and we just talked about what's going on, looking at issues and looking at what's going on in the world and also our culture and our differences, so I think it all worked, I think the magic came because it's from a man and a woman's perspective in views and values. We both got kids, we both can relate to a lot of these issues. I changed my life because I wanted to be here to see my kids, to be around for them, watch them grow up and I feel like there's a lot of strong women out there who want the same thing too. Maybe relationships don't work, you still gotta be a parent to your kid.
Listening to the interludes, it's her album that you're narrating but there's a lot of your story coming through, and it made me wonder: do you feel like you haven't told your full story yet?
I think when I sit down in a room and talk to people, I've been through so much, growing up in the projects and being able to be a successful businessman and not happen to sell out. I think it's important to see the struggle and to see the success that I was able to accomplish. I want the world to know that if we get out there and work hard, we can accomplish anything.
That's what I try to teach to Solange. Don't get caught up in the media or what one or two people are saying because it's a big world out there. Be yourself and do what you need to do and you can reach those goals. Don't hate on nobody, don't worry about what's going on next door. You can't even worry about what your sister's doing—you can applaud it, and you could appreciate it, but you still have to be your own person and I think that's where she's at right now, I think she found herself. I don't know what she doing, but she found a loyal fanbase and a strong following that's gonna follow her as long as she keep making this music and growing at what she do, and I think she's gonna be known as the best at it.
It was a struggle for her, man. You gotta imagine, Beyoncé is so big, for her to just keep going and keep going...you don't find too many women that do that. They'll be depressed or they'll give up. To see a strong black woman just keep going...I'm a fan of that. And not dependent on nobody else—she don't even depend on Beyoncé or nobody. She's in the studio on her own, making her music. Going to all these different cities and traveling to all these different places. [You gotta] salute it.
When did you guys record this?
Man...it was months ago, but we put a lot of time into it. Whenever she called...it went from [a planned] half a day to coming to the studio several days to do this.
Your storytelling on the album is so vivid. Are you still planning on making a biopic on yourself or telling your story in other mediums?
Yeah, my movie is coming, it's called King of the South: Ice Cream Man. That's my biopic that'll be coming next year so you can look out for that.
What else do you have going on right now?
I got the video game, Get Money video game. Also my new album will be coming out in a couple months, it's called Louisiana Hot Sauce.
Who have you been working with for that?
Man...everyone from Lil Wayne to the No Limit Boys to Jeremih. It's gonna be a big project.
What's your overall opinion on the music game today? What music are you feeling right now? What's your favorite song right now?
My favorite song right now? I'm spinning a lot of the Drake, I'm spinning a lot of the new Gucci Mane, Chance The Rapper... it's so many great projects out right now. I'm a fan of the new generation of music because I feel like everybody got their verse and their time. Maybe people didn't understand us in our time and we was able to make history and sell 75 million records but this generation, man, I feel like they're creative, they're finding ways to make money off of social media, so I'm a fan of a lot of what I'm hearing. You turn the radio on and there's so many good songs. I don't wanna just name one record that I'm a fan of... there's a lot of great songs, especially I can't forget Kendrick Lamar, man. I'm a big fan of Kendrick Lamar. And also Lil Wayne too. Lil Wayne is about to get a second life at music. All you gotta do is keep working hard.
How do you feel about what's going on between Wayne and Birdman?
Man, I think we all from Louisiana. They did so much for the culture of music, I think they need to figure that out because I think they're hurting each other. They both did something to help build that brand and Lil Wayne is so talented and Birdman created a mega brand, I think they just need to figure it out, figure out how to end the relationship on a good note so they can always be friends.
I want the world to know that if we get out there and work hard, we can accomplish anything.
When money come involved, people don't realize, money is the root of all evil, so it's either real love or it's money. A relationship gets torn apart over money. If the love outweighs the money, you can work it out, and I think that's what we gotta look at now. Is the money gonna outweigh the love?
And that's something you've seen probably a number of times over your years in the game.
Oh yeah. But you know, the thing that was different with me, I don't want people around me that don't want to be with me. So, if we don't like each other, something ain't going on, I'd rather leave peacefully and you go about your way and don't hold nobody back, that's been my motto. A lot of guys, I just let them leave because they feel like they're grown now, they feel like they don't need my advice, they think they can do it on their own, you know, I have my own talent, I'm not sitting around waiting on somebody else. It's always been easier to just let all this go and just go do whatever they wanna do, I ain't trying to hold nobody back. I think that's been the key to my success. I want you to be a boss if you think you can do it on your own, go ahead.
On one of the interludes on ASATT, you get really animated about "sending a message." What were you feeling in that moment, what's the message that you still want to send that you haven't really gotten across yet?
I feel like this generation shouldn't get caught up in their feelings, man. Just get caught up in doing what's right for you. Feelings change a lot of things and it also gets you caught up. A lot of us losing our lives and going to prison are those feelings and having the wrong people around. I feel like if we got rid of some of these yes people around us and put some no people, some people that's gonna show us tough love, you gotta respect those people just 'cause you making money, don't just abuse the relationship that you have where you got good people trying to help you or teach you something, because it might save your life.