C-Murder/ interview by black dog bone/ Photos by marcus hanschen
People are wondering what direction No Limit is going to go from here?
As far as the record label, we're gonna take it to a whole nother level. Last year we was pushing all our small artists, gettin them a name. Now this year, not only are our big acts comin out, but then our little acts are gonna be platinum also. Every year we're gonna bring it to 'em. We at 29 million sales this year. Next year gonna be even more. We don't just blow up one act, we blow up the whole label. That way everybody can make money, everybody can be happy.
Do you think it was good that you put out so many records last year?
Yeah, it was good. I lotta people didn't think that it was gonna pay off, but we knew what we was doin. We don't have to explain nothing to anybody, but we was just puttin all the little acts out right then at a time that we knew the market needed some of that music. That way they could stand on there own last year, so it could be a better year for them and us this year.
Who's coming out on No Limit in '99?
First we had Silkk and Servon come out. Then we got the TRU album and the new Tank Dogg's album. Then we got Mo B. Dick's solo project and Lil Soldiers. We're doin a bunch of movies this year too.
What's been goin on with you since we last talked?
Everything. You know I got my own label, TRU Records. Then I done committed to a couple movies. We got our own movie that we're about to start shootin, Hot Boyz. That's starring me and Silkk. It's gonna be cool.
What's the film about?
It's basically like a Boys In The Hood type movie. It's gonna be real serious. It's gonna have a few funny scenes, but it's mostly a serious movie about the streets. We're tryin to make a movie that everybody could relate to, both levels--a mainstream level and the ghetto level. We wanna cater to all the markets so we can hit every theater, not just certain theaters.
bein broke, not havin money. Watchin TV, wishin we had this and that. Sleepin in a fuckin project with 8 muthafuckas in the room. It wasn't really dangerous back then--it was dangerous, but not for us, we was kids. I'm not goin back to the days I was goin to jail and all that, I'm goin back to the childhood, when I was in school. Just not havin nothing, and thinking that I'm basically smaller than the next man, feelin insecure, unsure about your future.
You're one of the most popular No Limit artists, especially when it comes to the streets. Your fans want to know if you're going to keep it hard or go more mainstream?
That's where a lotta artists mess up. They put out their first album, that sets 'em up to where people expect that typa music from 'em, but then they change up and come with some different shit. I done watched all the other people do their thing and then fall off. I'm gonna stick with what I'm doin. The only thing I'm doin different on my new album, Bossalinie, is I got a few radio friendly songs, cause I'm gonna have 3 or 4 videos from this album. I'm gonna keep it street and hardcore, just like P's doin, but put that little level on it to where everybody can relate to it. On the other hand I'm gonna have them straight ghetto songs to be dominant on my album. The only difference is they'll see me on TV a little more. But I know the way to do it. I'm gonna do it to where if I was the fan, what I'd want to see. I'm lookin at it as a fan, not just as a businessman. I'm lookin at it from all angles.
Your fans just want more of that C-Murder they've been getting in the past.
That's what I'm sayin. I got my own market, and I'm gonna keep them muthafuckas no matter what. I'm not gonna change for the next audience, for the mainstream, they're gonna adapt to me. That's what they're doin now. If they don't like it, don't pick it up. I think my fans know that I ain't gonna go off into that other shit. I don't know no other thing to do but to rap how I rap. I think they got a lotta faith in me and my style. They can feel that I ain't gonna change. I don't need to. I'm on an independent label, we do what the fuck we wanna do. We ain't gotta cater to nobody or kiss no ass, ya heard me? All I could produce is pure Gangsta-ass shit. I might put a little twist on there, I got some shit for 'em. They gonna trip on this album.
You're still talking about the same subjects, you're going to expand...
That's all part of being versatile and developing in the Rap game. Niggaz should definitely be on a different level every year. If you wanna take over this industry you gotta look at everything. You gotta take criticism, you gotta have an open mind to what other people are doin that's not rappin like you too. It's just a part of growin and handlin your business, makin decisions that you think are gonna be better for yourself.
People always focus on Master P, but I know there are people behind P. You probably have a clear understanding of this business yourself.
In the industry there's so much money and there's so much for everybody. If it's your time it's gonna happen. Just like Jay-Z, when his first album came it sold 500,000. Then he came with the next one--muthafuckin millions. He ain't never changed his style, and muthafuckas adapted to him. Now they buyin his shit like hotcakes. That's just what happened with No Limit. First it was, what those muthafuckas talkin about? Then they just adapted to our style one day. It's just a matter of stickin with what you're doin, havin faith in your own shit and bein confidant in your style. A lotta muthafuckas get in the studio and some muthafucka makes 'em change up and do something they ain't supposed to do. That ain't bein real. We call it Reality Music, not just cause of what we talkin about, cause a muthafucka can't tell us what to say or do. We're gonna stick to this game plan here. They like it? Fuck it. They don't? You dig?
About TRU Records, you're really serious about it? or is it just a side thing?
I'm serious, I'm serious about everything. I'm so serious about it, that's why I'm not puttin out anything right now. A lotta labels try to put out too much when they ain't ready for it. Muthafuckas comin to me, but I'm waiting. I put out Magic, and I'm about to establish him as an artist. I'm not gonna rush and keep puttin out these other acts until I'm on that level. I wanna blow up my company and my artists so they can be established where there's a demand, high demand. I'm talkin about some platinum shit out the door. Then I'm gonna get more into the industry and makin a lotta moves. TRU Records and No Limit Records, we just built a big ol' studio. We're gonna work together.
that shit keep me goin and keep me when I walk in a store askin a nigga how much it costs and shit like that--that's what keeps me down to earth and real. I know what muthafuckas really go through. A lotta muthafuckas talk about shit in their songs, like what they saw and what they think, but nigga actually lived all that shit. We got muthafuckas out there livin like this right now. I feel I can relate to 'em more. Shit like that keeps my head and keeps me focused on what I'm tryin to do.
Is TRU Records going to have the same sound as No Limit or are you gonna have your own identity?
It's gonna be like a C-Murder album. With us, we don't just use Beats By The Pound for production. Whatever's out there hittin, we gonna get it. You got to have a universal sound if you're trying to appeal to a universal market. A muthafucka went from local to national, and now a muthafucka's tryin to go international. We're goin oversees too. We're tryin to do more than we did the last year, so we gotta make moves different from last year.
In Europe and Japan they're waking up to the Gangsta shit. But still a lot of people are into that Hip Hop because that's all they've heard up until now.
It's just a matter of us gettin out there and workin the streets in the international market just like we did in the U.S. We just came from a month tour out there with Snoop, so we already laid the ground. Now we got 'em ringin off the hook to get a No Limit tour. We're gonna hook it up. We're workin that shit out right now.
Since your first album came out you've done and seen a lot of shit, that probably effected the way your second album came out?
I had time to take merit and jot a lotta shit. And I've been out in the world a lot more doin tours, I basically got a mind for what makes the muthafuckas really jump off, what they wanna hear. It helps a lot when you do a show and you do certain songs that move the audience--damn, you be trippin. I got a lotta shit to give 'em--some shit to bump to and some serious shit to have 'em thinking. Then I got some shit for the radio so they can just hear a nigga's name ringin and say, damn this nigga's versatile. I'm hittin 'em from all aspects right now. I'm gonna put it out there and see what happens, then I'm gonna hit 'em with the next one even more hard. It's all about just growin.
I'm not gonna change for the next audience, for the mainstream, they're gonna adapt to me. That's what they're doin now. If they don't like it, don't pick it up. I think my fans know that I ain't gonna go off into that other shit. I don't know no other thing to do but to rap how I rap. I ain't gonna change. I don't need to. I'm on an independent label, we do what the fuck we wanna do. We ain't gotta cater to nobody or kiss no ass, ya heard me? All I could produce is pure Gangsta-ass shit. I'm stickin to the G code.
When you were touring, who else was with you?
Mainly it was me Mystikal, Fiend, Mack, Mia, Kane & Abel, Magic. Snoop and Silkk came to a few shows, but they was too busy doin other shit.
What songs did you get the strongest response from in Europe?
In Europe the main thing they was trippin on was the No Limit Soldier song and the shit on Magic's album...."N.O.L.I.M.I.T." They had never heard it before, but it was something they could chant to. It's all about partying overseas. Long as you got some shit they can jump and do all that crazy shit to, they love it. It was nothing but love out that way. There were a few songs they were familiar with, and my album did pretty well out there too, so it was good.
It was an all White audience there?
It was a lotta White people, but in some cities it was hella Blacks--like in Amsterdam and shit, and France. They out there, they find it.
Who did your production on Bossalinie?
Mainly I got the Pound, and I got some shit from LT, who did shit for Snoop and for Ruthless Records. I did a few with Rico (Sunz Of Funk), bout to get with some folks in Texas, Mean Green hookin me up with some shit. I'm rappin on whatever's hittin. If I get the feelin, I vibe off it, I need to have it.
What are you looking for when you pick up a beat?
I remember when I was in the street what I used to like and what I wanted to hear a nigga rap to. I developed a mentality to where I know what I want--Gangsta-ass shit. The bass line and music and everything there to where a muthafucka wanna hear it. Some quality type ghetto shit. I hear a lotta beats, but I fuck with Beats By The Pound. In order for me to go outside the clique, it's gotta be some tight shit. It's gotta be on that level as the Pound, but totally different cause it's comin from a different city.
Do you watch all the trends in the industry see the direction it's going? What do you see?
Right now I see Hip Hop as a whole takin over, I don't see it as a region. Everybody's bumpin now in the industry. It ain't no playa hatin really and it ain't really tense anymore. It's different from the time of 2Pac and Biggie. It's like everybody in the industry done relaxed and got settled down. Their minds is more open now. We don't have to be out here with all this bullshit, let that shit go and let's collaborate and do some shit to show muthafuckas that it's cool. We can stick together, we can work together. It think the industry's done evolved. The artists are about money, everybody's become more business orientated. Shootin movies--E-40, Mack 10, Jay-Z's got his--they're more business minded. Everybody's gettin more serious about what's goin on and lookin toward the future. It was just a matter of time. I knew it was gonna happen, just a matter of time. They couldn't constantly have somebody screamin this side or that side. After all that tragedy done happened, even the fans slowed down. Let's just enjoy the music, fuck all that other shit. Remember that music is for entertainment.
that's just what happened with No Limit. First it was, what those muthafuckas talkin about? Then they just adapted to our style one day. It's just a matter of stickin with what you're doin, havin faith in your own shit and bein confidant in you style. A lotta muthafuckas get in the studio and some muthafucka makes 'em change up and do something they ain't supposed to do. That ain't bein real. We call it Reality Music, not just cause of what we talkin about, cause a muthafucka can't tell us what to say or do. We're gonna stick to this game plan here. They like it? Fuck it. They don't? You dig?
What's the first single off your new album going to be?
I'm gonna hit 'em with a serious C-Murder song for my first single. It's called "Like A Jungle". Then I'm gonna hit 'em with some mainstream shit, this song called "Freedom". It's some serious shit, talkin about shit that's goin on. Then I'm gonna come with this song called "Lil Ghetto Boy". It's some signature shit.
How do you write your lyrics?
First I listen to the beat and I feel it, then I come up with a subject. I come up with a hook first, then I write the lyrics for the hook. The main thing is that chorus. It's gotta be something they can adapt to. Then writin don't take no time, it just comes.
Do you write at home?
No I do it right there. I could take it home, but I like to do it in the studio. Listen to the beat and write.
When you're at home do you think of lyrics?
No. Something might come into my head, like the name of a song or a verse. I write that down. If I don't lose it, one day I'll go down and lay that shit. I be hatin that, sometimes something come into my head, then I lose that muthafucka. I try to put it in my pocket or something, like a little verse--that could give me a whole song. Two lines could be a whole song.
When you first started writing lyrics was it hard for you?
When I first started writin it was hella easy. I didn't care, I just wanted to say some Gangsta-ass shit. So writin wasn't no problem. I probably wasn't puttin it out as fluently as I do now, but I was sayin some shit. I go listen to some of the shit I said back in the day, and I'm like "that nigga still was hard." It's just as an artist you develop, you say your shit and express it differently.
Now you feel different?
Now I feel real confidant. I feel I can go in the studio and do a hit record and produce something that a lotta people are gonna like. The main test is when you play something for P. I might go and lay something in the studio, but then you gotta bring it to the colonel and let him hear it. He'll cut your muthafuckin head off. Now when I come to him like, "P I want you to hear this song," he'll be like, "Dog, you don't even have to play it for me. I know you're on your game now." The nigga got so much confidence in me. That's a good thing.
In the beginning he was schooling you.
Yeah, givin me a shove. Now the muthafucka calls me, "Hey I need you to do something. I need you to help these niggaz to get their album together." Muthafucka knows that muthafucka's gonna be done right. Not only is a muthafucka on this game rappin, nigga on this game businesswise too.
you got to have a universal sound if you're trying to appeal to a universal market. A muthafucka went from local to national, and now a muthafucka's tryin to go international. We're goin oversees too. We're tryin to do more than we did the last year, so we gotta make moves different from last year.
P probably can't handle everything. He probably relies on you and Silkk.
That's basically what I'm doin right now. All the artists that's comin out, I'm right there with 'em givin my input on whatever. And they listen, nigga respects my opinion. You know that nigga be hella busy. He's doin his basketball thing now.
What's going on with P's basketball career?
Right now he's playin with the Charlotte Hornets. We just went to a game. He's doin his thing, that's what he wants to do right now. He done got his businesses to a point to where he don't have to be there. It's gonna run itself. Everyday he checks in. But that's what his dream has been, to play ball.
Who is second in command at No Limit?
I don't really wanna put them shoes on. Everybody just play their part. Trevestor do a lotta shit too, and he's really more business orientated than me. What I bring to the table is that game and all that other shit, and the protection of the company. Ain't nobody gonna come and fuck with No Limit. It just all comes together. That's why he's got the typa niggaz he got workin for him. He might call on Boz for something. Everything works out good. Don't nobody try to overdo nobody, everybody just be there for him. When he make a call everybody be happy to do what they could do for him, cause that nigga done brought us to the top.
Who exactly is Trevestor?
He's like the business manager. He used to be with Mia, he was Mia's road manager a long time ago. At the time when we picked Mia up we came close to Mia to where we trusted her opinion on anything. We was havin problems with this dude we had and Mia was like, "I got this dude, he real cool, I trust him..." That was Trevestor. That's how we came together, and ever since then he made all the right moves.
Then who is Boz?
He been here from day one, when the company was just tryin to get there. He's family--not blood, but he's family. Since we was small. Nigga just been real with us all our lives. There was times when we was small, nigga kept us goin.
Where does your mom stay now?
She's with us. Everywhere we go, she there.
I'm sure she never imagined that things would turn out like this for her sons.
She's been there for us no matter what. She was always a good mom. She used to work and try to provide for us. It was hard. We're just glad we could do something for her.
She's healthy and happy?
Yeah, she's real happy. Everything.
Do you see your dad?
Yeah, it's all family now. My daddy went and did his thing, but he was always--he wasn't right there, but he was always there for us. When we really needed something--you know what I mean? It was just like that. The nigga was there. Now we're really like together.
I remember when I was in the street what I used to like and what I wanted to hear a nigga rap to. I developed a mentality to where I know what I want--Gangsta-ass shit. The bass line and music and everything there to where a muthafucka wanna hear it. Some quality type ghetto shit.
He remarried and had kids?
Yeah, he did. We're all family.
So you have another family? Do they do music or anything?
No, they're just doin their thing.
Do you look like your mom or your dad?
Everybody say I look like my mom. She's tall . Everybody say P look like my dad, but then they say me and P look alike. I guess we resemble both of them.
What about Silkk and your sister?
Silkk like my mom, my sister's probably got more features like my dad.
What kinda memories do you have from the times you spent growing up in New Orleans?
Shit, that's what keeps me goin, all my childhood memories. Like bein broke, not havin money. Watchin TV, wishin we had this and that. Livin in a fuckin project, sleepin with 8 muthafuckas in the room. It wasn't really dangerous back then--it was dangerous, but not for us, we was kids. I'm not goin back to the days I was goin to jail and all that, I'm goin back to the childhood, when I was in school. Just not havin nothing, and thinking that I'm basically smaller than the next man, feelin insecure, unsure about your future. That shit keep me goin, that's what keeps me down to earth and real. I know what muthafuckas really go through. A lotta muthafuckas talk about shit in their songs, like what they saw and what they think, but nigga actually lived all that shit. We got muthafuckas out there livin like this right now. I feel I can relate to 'em more. Shit like that keeps my head and keeps me focused on what I'm tryin to do. When I'm at home I do shit at schools whenever I get a chance. They'd be trippin, wondering why's he wanna come to our school. Like I'd be home for a week, call up, set up some shit like that..
What do you do? Talk to the kids?
Yeah, I talk to 'em. A lotta muthafuckas think you can just write somebody a check. I say no, that's not what they really need, them muthafuckas need somebody to come and tell them basically where you comin from and what you think they can do to get out of their situation. Let 'em know that not everybody can be a rapper or a basketball player. Muthafuckas need doctors and lawyers, teachers. I let 'em know exactly where a nigga come from, let 'em talk to you and relate to you and talk about some shit they don't wanna talk about. I know when a muthafucka goes to school they just talk about shit you don't care about. I entertain 'em, but at the same time teach.
It's not all good for a lot of us.
That's why I try to cater to those people in my music, in what I'm rappin about, cater to them and their thoughts. I remember in the days how we used to dream. I used to dream of bein an NBA player.
When your family was in New Orleans, what made you move to Richmond?
P and them was already in Cali establishing themselves. I didn't even wanna come out there, but I was gettin so much shit down there. The nigga was like, you need to come out here. So I decided to just come on out and see what's happening. Nigga was like, man we really need you out here right now. Have some family to watch his back too.
What made P move out here?
He just came out here and got in the game. Try to make something happen, wasn't shit happenin in New Orleans.
How old was P when he went to Richmond?
I don't know, he was just outta high school.
I heard P went to school in Houston?
He had got a scholarship at U of H, but I guess he got himself into some trouble or something. He got the foot. That's when we went to Richmond.
When you and Silkk made the move how old were you?
I had just graduated from high school. Silkk was still in high school. He was goin to school out in Richmond and shit. I was sayin, they don't want me goin to school out there--I wasn't ready for that. I was used to goin to school where it was just straight up Blacks, muthafuckas smokin all day, beatin up teachers and shit. I bust the school and back home, that was it. Came out here to Richmond, it's a lot more happening. You got mixed people, you got crime, but it wasn't close to.......Richmond was cool.
I have never seen Master P real angry. Does he get mad?
Hell yeah. When something ain't right to a point where a nigga ain't doin what he's supposed to do no matter how many times you tell him, nigga'll come in and go off. Like some nigga make the bad decision and he's representin No Limit out there, he gonna come throw a meetin or something and go off. Get a nigga's mind right. If he feels a nigga's mind ain't right, they gotta go.
What about when you all were in Richmond? It was more of a struggle back then.
Nigga was straight up mad back then. Nigga puttin them hands on your back. Anything, a nigga come up to him "what's up", "woo-woo-woo." How you had to demand your respect, how you had to be there. A nigga come to a new area you don't wanna hear nothing, you just wanna do what you gotta do. But nigga calm now. Nigga know when he needs to use force and when he don't need to. That's just part of bein smart.
Everyone thinks that Master P happened overnight. A lot of people don't know what it took it build the No Limit Empire.
We got some true fans from day one, they know what we went through to keep this shit on top of all that, stay outta trouble and keep No Limit growin and growin. What happens to a lotta independent labels is they get in trouble and then the company flops--you never hear from them again. Basically they come from the streets tryin to do something right, but they're still really in the streets doin something wrong. It just collides with each other, the dream's just gone.
When you were first struggling a lot of labels were on top, but a lot of them fell off.
I couldn't explain it. I can just explain from my point of view. We was always so dedicated. We always said: we'll make it to the stop, we ain't gonna stop there. No Limit--I don't think there's a limit where we would be comfortable.
When you were coming up I'm sure a lotta people let you down. How do you feel about those people now? You feel angry?
No, cause now they callin me and I say, "We not in right now. Bye." I don't even have to say, where the fuck were you when I was comin up? Ain't no reason to go and put hate, I call that a part of payin dues. I didn't have a name, so I was payin dues. I guess the next man gotta got through that too, the man under me. But it's a certain way muthafuckas can fuck over you, like sayin "I'm gonna do it" and then just don't do it. Sayin, you ain't got this and that so we can't fuck with you. Now down the line, OK let's do some business. Now they sayin, "I didn't mean to keep puttin you off, brotha, but now I want---" Fuck all that. That's the whole camp right there. Respect.
Can you break down how a typical day goes in C-Murder's life?
I go to sleep late, about three in the morning. I be in the studio every day. I don't have nothing else to do but be in the studio.
You live near the studio?
Yeah, I got a couple places right around the studio. So I just be in and out. I go to sleep bout three, wake up about nine. Go to the studio, check in, make some phone calls, see who else is workin on their projects, what they need to be doin, get them in there, order some food. Then I go ride around, maybe go to the mall. Go back home, play some play stations with Snoop or Fiend. We got a little clique--me, Fiend, when Snoop down there, Mack, Kane & Abel, QB and Ke'noe. We all just hook up some time everyday and just do our thing--play games, or just act stupid or just work. Somebody always workin on something. Something come into our head, we get in there and get a producer to make us a beat.
No Limit is building a big studio, when will that project be finished?
The project's scheduled to be finished March 8. The No Limit Compound, that's what we call it. It's being built in Baton Rouge right now, it's at the ending stage. The part that took us so long was the wiring, cause we got so much shit goin on in there. They had to dig deep as a muthafucka to get the wiring in. Once it's done, whatever we need to do--it's gonna be the number one recording studio in the world. Beats By The Pound talkin that they gonna live in that, they ain't gonna never leave. So whenever we need to do something, just come down to the Compound, let's get happening. It's gonna have shippin, receiving, gonna have everything.
Apartments, stores, like a big shopping mall. It's not going to be open to the public?
No, it's gonna be closed in all around. Security 24 hours a day. We're gonna have parking inside. Whatever you need--swimming pools, tennis court, weight room. Got a hotel in there, got a chef, everything. Whatever a nigga need. Then we got the recording studio. Got No Limit Records on this side, Tru Records on the other side. It's gonna be cool.
What made you decide to build this?
We been havin our own studio, we own the studio, but we're payin rent. We wanted to have our own shit, so we was about to buy a house and make it into a studio. Nigga said, we movin too fast, we doin a lot. Let's get a whole fuckin compound to where muthafuckas can have everything right there. Won't have to ask nobody for nothing. P came up with the concept for the No Limit Compound and just took it to another level. We bought some land and just started building.
What's going on with No Limit's clothing company?
That's off the hook right now. We're makin new clothes always with the trend, but we got shit finished and shipped right now. We got Footlocker and Macy's carryin our shit. Then the little Hip Hop shops will be ordering our shit. I just opened up a No Limit Store in New Orleans. P opened up a No Limit Store in Baton Rouge. We're gonna keep doin it like that, expanding. We're not just gonna sell No Limit clothes, we're gonna sell everything. Records, tapes, clothes--muthafuckas can come and get everything.
What keeps you going?
The demand. There's a demand for it, so we're gonna keep puttin it out. That's business. We know one thing, the record company is what got us here, so we're gonna keep that bumpin no matter what. That's where the heart is. We owe that to the people, until they say they don't want no more records.