When Percy “Master P” Miller released his fifth solo album Ice Cream Man on April 16, 1996, his career was at a turning point. With one foot in the studio and one foot still in the street, Master P was living a life where he was either on the cusp of stardom, or inches away from death or jail.
Growing up in New Orleans’ notorious Calliope Projects, Master P was like so many others from the neighborhood: poor and not expected to live long. But P found a way out, initially through basketball with a scholarship to the University of Houston. Eventually, he left school and went back to the streets. Although he would inherit $10,000 from a settlement involving the death of his grandfather and use some of the money to open at record store in Richmond, Calif. P still had to take risks in the streets to fund his dreams.
Master P attained moderate popularity on the West coast and throughout the Midwest with his albums The Ghettos Tryin To Kill Me! (1994) and 99 Ways To Die (1995). But it wasn’t until he released True, the third album from his group TRU, that things really started to take off. Largely because of the anthem “I’m Bout It, Bout It.”
“The beat for ‘Bout It’ was for a song I had with Mr. Serv-On called ‘Bucking Like A Winchester,'” says the producer behind the song, KLC of No Limit Records’ in-house production team Beats By the Pound. “P came down to New Orleans and took the beat and did a 30-second commercial for Wild Wayne on Q93 and the commercial got hot. So he took the beat back to the Bay and made a song of it. I don’t think he really had any intention on making it a record.”
Intentional or not, “‘Bout It” gave Master P his first big hit and presented an opportunity to take his career and record label to the next level. It was important that his next album be the proper follow up. Knowing this, P returned home to New Orleans and proceeded to put together the album that would change his life for forever, Ice Cream Man.
“It was a masterpiece,” P tells HipHopWired.com. “It took me to a national level as far as making music and being discovered. It dropped the same year 2Pac passed and it opened the doors for what we call ‘trap music. It paved the way for the Gucci Mane’s and Young Jeezy’s, it shed that light. After Ice Cream Man, everybody came out because they wasn’t afraid to show they were from the South and making street music.”
Gucci Mane pays tribute to Master P at the 2010 Vh1 Hip Hop Honors
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Master P’s classic, HipHopWired.com talked with Master P, Mia X and producers KLC, Mo B. Dick and Craig B of Beats By the Pound to get the story behind the making of the album and some of the classic tracks that appeared.
Photo: Master P