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Master P's Minneapolis: How'd the hip-hop mogul wind up living here?

Hammed Akindele @flytouchstudio

Hammed Akindele @flytouchstudio

Prior to late 2019, you wouldn鈥檛 see any 6-foot-4 dads with diamond-encrusted No Limit Records pendants inside the gleaming Minnehaha Academy gymnasium.

That all changed when Master P moved to Minnesota.

In the retrospectively halcyon early days of 2020, news broke that the rap mogul born Percy Miller made a WTF relocation from L.A. to Minneapolis, where he now lives with his prep basketball star sons, Hercy and Mercy. At the time, Sen. Bernie Sanders was surging in the Democratic primary, COVID-19 had infected just 13 Americans, and how Master P was adapting to his new Minnesota lifestyle felt like a story that demanded to be told.

These days, as a global pandemic has society on lockdown, Master P and sons have absconded to their L.A. mansion. But once the viral curve has been flattened, the Miller family will be Minneapolitans once more, P鈥檚 publicist assures us.

In the meantime, here鈥檚 some quarantine reading material about our new celebrity neighbor.

Master P, flanked by his sons Mercy and Hercy

Master P, flanked by his sons Mercy and Hercy Hammed Akindele @flytouchstudio

It鈥檚 mid-February, and seated courtside in Minnehaha Academy鈥檚 gym, Master P isn鈥檛 interested in laying out details of why his family now lives in south Minneapolis. He鈥檚 here to look after a sick relative, he says, and that鈥檚 all he鈥檒l reveal. He was, however, eager to praise the basketball and academic successes of his sons.

Master P鈥檚 boys, both of whom are thriving as Redhawks, hadn鈥檛 seen snow before enrolling at the Christian school along the Mississippi River. Their dad had, having taken holiday vacations from New Orleans鈥檚 notorious Calliope Projects to visit Minnesota family members in the 鈥80s.

鈥淎s a kid, we always came here for Christmas time,鈥 Miller, 49, says in his no-nonsense drawl. 鈥淔or us, this was our getaway to see Santa Claus in the snow.鈥

Miller bounced outta NOLA on a hoops scholarship, eventually landing in the Bay Area. That鈥檚 where, in 1990, he鈥檇 launch No Limit Records, funded by a $10,000 malpractice settlement related to his grandfather鈥檚 death. Throughout the 鈥90s, No Limit put out hit albums from Mystikal, Silkk the Shocker, Snoop Dogg, and, of course, Master P himself, peaking with a massive 1998.

For one week that year, only Warner Bros. produced more Top 40 albums than No Limit. P鈥檚 label generated $120 million in its first six years, the New York Times reported in a story headlined 鈥How a Gangsta Rapper Turns Entrepreneur; At 28, Master P Has Created One Of the Biggest Independent Labels.鈥

鈥淚 guess I want to be the ghetto Bill Gates,鈥 he told the Times.

But in 2003, the label declared bankruptcy. No Limit folding was a rare fiscal L for Master P, who ranks among hip-hop鈥檚 most skilled and persistent capitalists.

鈥淧rince told me, like, 鈥楳an, I鈥檓 inspired by you being an entrepreneur and creating your own brand.鈥 The No Limit brand, and doing it on my own,鈥 Miller says of a chance conversation he once had with a fellow business-minded musician. 鈥淗e was like, 鈥楾hat was courageous.鈥 I never thought about it until I heard it from Prince. That鈥檚 when I鈥檓 like, 鈥業 think I made it.鈥欌

At the height of his musical fame in the late 鈥90s, P also worked tirelessly to forge an NBA career, eventually inking preseason contracts with the Charlotte Hornets and the Toronto Raptors. (One of his elder sons, rapper/actor Romeo, played college ball at USC.)

Master P鈥檚 singular resume also includes鈥

A sprawling list of film/TV credits (remember 1998鈥檚 I Got the Hook-Up?); a 1-900 No Limit phone-sex hotline (callers were promised chats with the 鈥淣o Limit bitches鈥 featured on CD sleeves); a sports-managment firm (clients included NBA journeymen Ron Mercer and Derek Anderson); a book (2007鈥檚 Guaranteed Wealth), and a brief pro-wrestling stint (the No Limit Soldiers stormed WCW in 1999).

Miller鈥檚 current portfolio of business interests is just as diverse. There鈥檚 his MoneYatti sneaker brand, the bodega-ubiquitous Rap Snacks chips, and, soon, Rap Noodles (鈥淟ike ramen but better flavor,鈥 he tells us). He even offers a seminar called MasterClass Millionaire Mastery Business & Marketing Conference, with tickets starting at $247 (one day, no lunch with Mr. Miller) and running up to $2,495 (three days, plus lunch).

鈥淭o be able to come from where I come from鈥攖he struggle, the pain, the streets, the poverty,鈥 he says. 鈥淎nd look where we are now.鈥

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Where Miller is now is 1,931 miles from Hollywood.

鈥淵ou gonna do whatever you need to do for family,鈥 he says. 鈥淎nd sometimes you gotta get outside your comfort zone. For us? This is definitely getting out of our comfort zone.鈥

P鈥檚 friends on the Timberwolves urge him to hit the town, the semi-recently single celeb says, but he鈥檚 mostly in family-man mode. Miller鈥檚 go-to destinations include tourist mecca Mall of America and international steakhouse chain Ruth鈥檚 Chris. He recently took the boys snow-tubing, and reportedly had a blast.

鈥淎 lot of my friends at home, back in California, will ask 鈥楬ow is it?鈥欌 Miller says. 鈥淚 say, 鈥榃e still shine in the snow.鈥欌

Amazingly, Master P is not the first former hitmaker to relocate to the Twin Cities. Back in 2015, Sisqo, the man behind underrated hit 鈥淭hong Song,鈥 moved to the sleepy suburb of Maple Grove. 鈥淣o thongs out here!鈥 he informed Northwest Community Television.

Miller, who may or may not have been buttering this townie reporter鈥檚 bread, effusively heaped praise onto what he calls his second home. He鈥檚 lobbying the state legislature to change interstate high school sports eligibility rules; he seems genuinely distraught by seeing homelessness out in the cold. (鈥淲e spend a lot of money on a lot of other stuff, but I鈥檓 thinking, 鈥楬ow do we fix that, take our people off the streets?鈥欌)

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In terms of civic boosterism, Master P is a regular Mayor Jacob Frey. (Mayor Frey declined to comment on his city鈥檚 latest celebrity transplant for this story, though to be fair he had more pressing coronavirus-related concerns to address.)

鈥淵ou know what? There鈥檚 something magic about this place, we鈥檙e gonna make this place cool; it鈥檚 gonna be cool to be in Minnesota,鈥 Miller promises. 鈥淚 mean, people don鈥檛 realize鈥 I feel like this is an untapped market. This has everything that all the big-city markets have.鈥

When Master P speaks , the proud papa vibes are irrepressible.

And for good reason: Hercy, a junior, is being barraged with NCAA scholarship offers. In fact, during dad鈥檚 big interview with City Pages, the 6-foot-3 point guard politely interrupted with news of an offer from the University of Pittsburgh. Mercy, just an 8th-grader, is already clocking minutes with the varsity team. Both boys boast GPAs hovering around 4.0.

Hercy joined his AAU pal Jalen Suggs, a top college recruit, and 7-footer (!) Chet Holmgren on a dominant Minnehaha Academy team that was fresh off three consecutive state championships.

鈥淗ercy is not only a great basketball player, he鈥檚 a great kid,鈥 says Redhawks coach Lance Johnson. 鈥淗e鈥檚 a natural leader, he鈥檚 fit into our school culture perfectly. Everybody had heard of Master P, and their parents had all heard of him鈥攖hey鈥檙e just really, really good people, a positive bunch.鈥

COVID-19 cancellations prevented Minnehaha Academy from battling for another state title, but the team had already achieved national acclaim. Target Center was filled to the gills with 17,378 basketball fans on January 4, an attendance figure that dunks on the Timberwolves鈥 NBA-worst average of 15,066. The draw was Minnehaha Academy taking on powerhouse California school Sierra Canyon, which boasts the sons of NBA royalty LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

鈥淚t was like David vs. Goliath,鈥 Master P says. 鈥淲e had no chance at beating them, but these guys came together like a real brotherhood.鈥

Final score: A 78-58 blowout, with the Redhawks toppling the Trailblazers in a prep game that was televised on freaking ESPN.

鈥淭he Miller boys are young leaders in our school,鈥 Minnehaha Academy principal Jason Wenschlag says. 鈥淭hey鈥檙e respectful, work hard, and don鈥檛 have an attitude about who they are, where they come from, or who their dad is.鈥

Fellow students know about who Hercy and Mercy鈥檚 dad is. Teammates will blast No Limit tracks in the locker room, Hercy says, with the top three being 鈥淢r. Ice Cream Man鈥 (one of Hercy鈥檚 personal faves), 鈥淢ake 鈥橢m Say Uhh!,鈥 and 鈥淗oody Hooo.鈥

鈥淲e鈥檙e having fun out here, I like it,鈥 says Hercy, whose 73,000 Instagram fans follow his Minnesota adventures. 鈥淭he cold? Getting used to it still.鈥

Despite today鈥檚 apocalyptic overtones, the Miller men just keep hustling.

Blessed with dad鈥檚 entrepreneurial gusto, Hercy and Mercy concocted a line of cleaning products called Master Clean Life, which debuted in mid-March. The family鈥檚 Team Hope NOLA foundation has volunteered to clean the homes of elderly Crescent City residents with those products, all currently free of charge as New Orleans battles the global crisis.

Master P鈥檚 long-in-the-works biopic continues to percolate. The star is 鈥渟omebody new, a young kid,鈥 says Miller, who鈥檚 eyeballing a release date sometime this year. There鈥檚 also God Is Real, the faith-based film that鈥檚 being bankrolled by Romeo and Master P and due out in 2021. Those two Miller men are also collaborating on a father-son rap album.

Generational wealth underpins everything in the Miller universe. Master P is fixated on the concept, and for good reason: Prosperity breeds prosperity. Amassing an estimated $200 million fortune from virtually nothing is the ultra-rare bootstrap-pulling anecdote that bolsters the mythical American dream. But that鈥檚 what Miller did, and he鈥檚 adamant about proselytizing fiscal literacy.

鈥淚 come from poverty, so to break that negative cycle, we have to build generational wealth,鈥 he says. 鈥淎nd that鈥檚 got to start with the next generation, preparing them for success.鈥

That鈥檚 the drumbeat mantra of Master P, the freshly minted Minnesotan who鈥檚 focused on the futures of his two youngest sons.

鈥淵ou know, some fans be shocked when they see me, can鈥檛 believe it, 鈥業s that really you?!鈥欌 he says. 鈥淯nderneath all the stardom and the fame, I鈥檓 just a regular dad. I love my kids. I think when they see that, they鈥檙e like, 鈥極K man, P cool. He鈥檚 not Hollywood, he鈥檚 just the guy that made it.鈥欌