PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

Master P: Greatest Hits - Remix Classics

Tim O'Neil

I like to think of P in the same vein as Ed Wood -- if Ed Wood had been able to trick a major studio into bankrolling and distributing Plan 9 From Outer Space.

Master P

Greatest Hits - Remix Classics

Label: Koch
US Release Date: 2005-09-20
UK Release Date: Available as import

"Yeah... and if you understand and you remember this, then you know what's goin' on. And if you don't know 'Make 'Em Say Ugh', then that was before your time and you really don't know what's happening. I mean, nothing come to a sleeper but a dream. Follow what you do, be unique, set a trend. That's where the record business moved from, the past to the present, you feel me?"

Master P, "Update"

In the annals of modern popular music, few artists have shone so brightly and touched so deeply at the heart of their epoch as Percy Miller, known by the nom de guerre Master P, the self made "ghetto millionaire" who rose from the turmoil of the modern black Diaspora to redefine the fin de siecle ennui --

OK, I'm sorry, not even I can keep that up for long. There really is no arguing with the fact that the music of Master P is now and has always been resolutely horrible. That does not mean, however, that it is without merit -- if you ever get the chance to look over my CD racks you'll find a pile of classic No Limit discs. Yes, it's horrible, but it's horrible in such a deliciously bad way that any but the most hidebound aesthete has to acknowledge the visceral thrill of something so uniquely, all-encompassingly bad.

In an era when even the output of Cash Money Records gets (relatively) serious critical approbation, the virtues of No Limit remain unsung. In many ways, P was lucky in inverse proportion to his extremely circumscribed talents. He was really the first person in the music industry to realize how big southern hip-hop could be on a national scale, and because he was in the right place at the right time he was able to leverage his small independent label into a major distribution deal (with Priority) that made him an instant multimillionaire. His records even sold fairly well for a time, despite the fact that they were almost uniformly horrid. He couldn't rap his way out of a paper bag, despite (or because?) of the fact that half of his lines were cribbed from Biggie or Tupac. His "flow" could probably best be compared to that of a three-year-old autistic child with a mouth full of cat's-eye marbles.

But his records were not, as is the case with so much of today's pop-gangster crap, unlistenably bad. I like to think of P in the same vein as Ed Wood -- if Ed Wood had been able to trick a major studio into bankrolling and distributing Plan 9 From Outer Space. This isn't kitsch, or at least not intentionally so. P is absolutely sincere in his attempts to create good music. Like Wood, however, he is just not very bright, and so his attempts at evoking the atmosphere and moral equivocacy of classic Tupac are about as clumsy and club-footed as Torgo rising from his mist-shrouded grave.

But the heyday of No Limit was a long time ago, and this disc readily attests to the fact that Master P long ago passed his sell-by date. Ghetto D and Da Last Don were classics of a kind because they were so unerringly, ostentatiously novel. Seriously, who can ever forget the first time they ever heard "Make 'Em Say Ugh?" Or saw the video, with the basketball playing gorilla and Shaquille O'Neal losing his mind in the bleachers? At his very best, P was able to channel a kind of Zen stupidity, an absolute confidence in his own limited abilities that made any critical quibbling seem utterly superfluous. Much like the Ramones, Master P was a steadfast believer in the invincibility of his own comic pretensions -- but unlike the Ramones, Master P never knew enough to let on that he was joking, or even seemed to understand that it was a joke to begin with.

Which is why this current Greatest Hits disc has all the charm of a lumpy turd. Instead of merely putting out a disc with the ostensible highlights from his prolific recording career -- an endeavor that might have aspired to some modest historical significance -- P has "remixed" all the hits. This means the raps are different, the beats are changed, and all the copious guest rappers -- once the highlight of a No Limit production -- have been scrubbed away. Gone are Mystikal, the Fiend, Mia X and any number of other, lesser lights who passed through the No Limit star chamber on their way to prison, obscurity or law school (respectively). Of course, P's loyal brothers Silkk the Shocker and C-Murder (now serving a life sentence) remain, as do high-profile guests such as the Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and Snoop Dogg. The reason for this probably has a lot to do with the fact that it's hard to have a falling out with someone who only rapped on your track because you paid them a lot of money.

Like the best dynasties, No Limit ultimately rose and fell on the quality of loyalty (not to mention the fact that no one buys their CDs anymore). Like any record mogul, Master P courts and develops blossoming talent, but the rate at which Master P alienates and disillusions said talent is phenomenal, even for the record industry. Everything that needs to be said about Master P's talent as an A&R rep can be summed up in the fact that he dropped Mystikal from the label, claiming he had no further commercial potential, on the eve of Mystikal's breakout multiplatinum solo success in 2000. (The fact that Mystikal later ended up in prison on charges of sexual battery, however, is his own damn fault.)

So, without the barrage of No Limit guests, the once-epic "Ugh" is a scant two minutes long. New protégés such as Black, Tank Dog and the Black Sopranos have been clumsily inserted in place of familiar faces. For those of us who have the original records handy, it makes about as much sense as Diddy cutting Ma$e out of "Mo' Money Mo' Problems" and inserting a verse by the guy who happened to deliver Chinese food to the studio that afternoon -- it may make sense on the face of it, but who are we really trying to kid here?

Ultimately, Master P will be remembered for two things. First, for the fact that at the height of his commercial clout he was able to liberate Snoop Dogg from his ruinous contract with Suge Knight, thereby facilitating the first step in the Doggfather's consequent ascent to cultural ubiquity. But more important than being a mere footnote in the long and bitter afterlife of Death Row Records, P will be remembered as a man who was able to make a lot of money by making records that no one in their right mind now admits to having liked, or even having bought, in the first place. He was the forerunner for every down-south superstar who built their success on the "bounce" template or some variant thereof. He may not get the credit, but he was there first.

I'll keep my copy of Da Last Don handy, with its hysterical delusions of grandeur and never-ending parade of "Ughs". It is sure to put a smile on my face whenever I put it in the stereo. However, I won't be listening to this botched attempt at a revisionist Greatest Hits ever again.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





Bishakh Som's 'Spellbound' Is an Innovative Take on the Graphic Memoir

Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.


Gamblers' Michael McManus Discusses Religion, Addiction, and the Importance of Writing Open-Ended Songs

Seductively approachable, Gamblers' sunny sound masks the tragedy and despair that populate the band's debut album.


Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.


In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.


The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.


The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.


The 20 Best Tom Petty Songs

With today's release of Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition), we're revisiting Petty's 20 best songs.

Joshua M. Miller

The 11 Greatest Hits From "Greatest Hits" Compilations

It's one of the strangest pop microcosms in history: singles released exclusively from Greatest Hits compilations. We rounded 'em up and ranked 'em to find out what is truly the greatest Greatest Hit of all.


When Punk Got the Funk

As punks were looking for some potential pathways out of the cul-de-sacs of their limited soundscapes, they saw in funk a way to expand the punk palette without sacrificing either their ethos or idea(l)s.


20 Hits of the '80s You Might Not Have Known Are Covers

There were many hit cover versions in the '80s, some of well-known originals, and some that fans may be surprised are covers.


The Reign of Kindo Discuss Why We're Truly "Better Off Together"

The Reign of Kindo's Joseph Secchiaroli delves deep into their latest single and future plans, as well as how COVID-19 has affected not only the band but America as a whole.


Tommy Siegel's Comic 'I Hope This Helps' Pokes at Social Media Addiction

Jukebox the Ghost's Tommy Siegel discusses his "500 Comics in 500 Days" project, which is now a new book, I Hope This Helps.


Kimm Rogers' "Lie" Is an Unapologetically Political Tune (premiere)

San Diego's Kimm Rogers taps into frustration with truth-masking on "Lie". "What I found most frustrating was that no one would utter the word 'lie'."


50 Years Ago B.B. King's 'Indianola Mississippi Seeds' Retooled R&B

B.B. King's passion for bringing the blues to a wider audience is in full flower on the landmark album, Indianola Mississippi Seeds.


Filmmaker Marlon Riggs Knew That Silence = Death

In turning the camera on himself, even in his most vulnerable moments as a sick and dying man, filmmaker and activist Marlon Riggs demonstrated the futility of divorcing the personal from the political. These films are available now on OVID TV.


The Human Animal in Natural Labitat: A Brief Study of the Outcast

The secluded island trope in films such as Cast Away and television shows such as Lost gives culture a chance to examine and explain the human animal in pristine, lab like, habitat conditions. Here is what we discover about Homo sapiens.


Bad Wires Release a Monster of a Debut with 'Politics of Attraction'

Power trio Bad Wires' debut Politics of Attraction is a mix of punk attitude, 1990s New York City noise, and more than a dollop of metal.


'Waiting Out the Storm' with Jeremy Ivey

On Waiting Out the Storm, Jeremy Ivey apologizes for present society's destruction of the environment and wonders if racism still exists in the future and whether people still get high and have mental health issues.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.