When I think about Master P’s career I divide the 1990’s into two eras — Cali and New Orleans. He’s always been from the Calliope Projects, and always had the regional accent to go with it, but as a young man he went to college in Oakland and started No Limit Records as an actual record store in Richmond. He moved back home in ’95 but had already released four solo albums before that time, and the subject of today’s review “Mama’s Bad Boy” was the second. When I listen to the opener “Shoot ‘Em Up” I automatically think “Freddy’s dead… that’s what I said.”
Percy Miller was obviously a big fan of Curtis Mayfield because he revisited the exact same sample on the South Park soundtrack for “Kenny’s Dead.”
You can easily hear the difference between the two eras if you listen to both tracks. In the Cali era Master P was a more vanilla rapper. He didn’t have the signature trademarks like saying “bout it bout it,” grunting “UNNNGH,” bragging about the size of his army and giving all his emcees a signature chain with a blinged out tank. Even the cover art of “Mama’s Bad Boy” looks generic. Ironically enough it looks like it was designed the same way early South Park was animated — moving paper cutouts around on a green background. Even the samples are relatively basic. You can identify loops like Cameo’s “Candy” on “Eyes of a Killer” the moment you hear it.
It’s not really a good look when you get rolled in terms of charisma on your own album, but E-A-Ski has the best performance of “Mama’s Bad Boy” on the song “Trust No Body.” Ski and CMT also produced the music on this release, although Mr. Miller confused the issue by listing himself as both “producer” and “executive producer” in the credits. Knowing Ski’s resume I tend to think P’s credit was the latter, and I also think Ski saved the best instrumental he had for the song he knew he was going to rap on. Can you really blame him?
As much as I appreciate Percy Miller’s entrepreneurial hustle and respect what he’s achieved, it’s hard to imagine the heights he’d reach listening to his early work. P is so anxious to prove his credentials as a hard G he titled two tracks murder — “Bloody Murder” and “Premeditated Murder.” It’s only odd in retrospect that neither track featured his brother C-Murder (keep your head up bro and get out soon). Actually the latter track doesn’t even feature ANYBODY. It’s just Ski padding out the album with another beat — maybe he should have rapped on this one too.
Even though this album screams “try hard” in so many ways, there are some moments that are almost accidentally dope. “Ohh Shit” sounds almost entirely like a clone of the Geto Boys classic “Quickie” down to the delivery, and given that “We Can’t Be Stopped” came out a year earlier it wouldn’t be hard to conclude he was inspired by Brad Jordan. That’s fine. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and this song is just as raw and raunchy, with the added twist of Miller catching a venereal disease. Perhaps he should have listened to Ice Cube’s “Look Who’s Burnin’” too.
“Now how bad can a piece of ass be?” O’Shea was right, and P caught a bad one. Actually if you bought “Mama’s Bad Boy” thinking you’d hear classic P, you caught more bad ones than Del the Funky Homosapien. I hate to say it but it wasn’t until songs like “I’m Bout It, Bout It” and “Mr. Ice Cream Man” that Master P really came into his own. He benefits in retrospect from a flow and delivery that are easier to understand than the mumble rap that came after him, but judged in the context of 1992 there’s nothing special about this release. It’s an easily forgettable album that gives no insight into the worldwide phenomenon that No Limit Records would soon become. Even diehard Master P fans can skip this release.