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Master P is a rapper and hip-hop mogul who founded No Limit Records.
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For the next several years, No Limit Records dominated the hip-hop industry, churning out a slew of hit records.
By 1997, No Limit Records had expanded to include a bevy of prominent hip-hop stars, including C-Murder, Silkk the Shocker, Mia X and Snoop Dogg. During its most productive years (1997-99), No Limit released 46 albums that frequently crowded the top of the Billboard charts. Asked to explain this massive outpouring of music, Master P answered,
"It's a business to me. I'm in it to make money. It's work. It's how I get paid."
Master P capitalized on the success of No Limit Records to expand into a host of other ventures. He explained his business model: "You spread out because you never know when it's going to end. Business is like a seesaw going up and down. When one goes down, I have the other one going up. You have to think like that if you want to survive."
Master P's first new enterprise was No Limit Films. In 1997, he personally funded and produced a low-budget docudrama called I'm Bout It, earning an enormous profit when the film proved a surprise hit. This success landed No Limit Films a national distribution deal with Miramax.
In another surprising extension of his entertainment empire, Master P founded No Limit Sports Management in 1997. His marquee client was running back Ricky Williams, a highly touted University of Texas football star drafted by Master P's hometown New Orleans Saints in 1999. Represented by No Limit, Williams signed an incentive-laden contract worth far less than his market value.
The contract was harshly criticized by other sports management agencies, with one agent calling it "a mockery of the business." As many predicted, Williams failed to achieve his most lucrative incentives and fired No Limit in favor of new representation.
At the same time as he entered the sports management business, Master P also plunged into the pro sports world as a basketball player. In 1998, he publicly announced his goal of playing in the NBA. As a first stepping-stone, he joined the Fort Wayne Fury, a team in the minor-league Continental Basketball Association. He later earned tryouts with the NBA's Charlotte Hornets and Toronto Raptors, greatly exceeding most expectations but ultimately failing to land on an NBA roster.
Despite these setbacks, at the close of the 1990s Master P sat atop a self-made entertainment empire of grand scale. No Limit Records sold 75 million albums during the decade, and in 1998 Forbes magazine ranked Master P 10th on its list of highest-grossing entertainers, estimating his annual income at $57 million. Rapper and friend Ice Cube called Master P "one of the best businessmen I've ever run across," and record executive Tony Draper declared him "a young successful black C.E.O. who has the intelligence to take the rap business to the next level."
But in the early years of the 21st century, Master P suddenly reversed the course of his career, abandoning gangster rap in favor of social activism.
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