Today Percy Miller is an established and well respected entrepreneur with an estimated net worth of $200 million. As a millennial who came of age during the “No Limit Records” reign, I know him as “Master P.”
In 1996 New Orleans rapper, Master P, charted on the Billboard 100 with his debut single “ Mr. Ice Cream Man”. Although the song lyrics referenced selling ice cream, ice cream was a metaphor for selling drugs. A rudimentary review of the lyrics will reveal that ice cream was code for drugs and the ice cream man was the drug dealer.
At the time his single was flooding the airwaves his daughter Tytyana was four years old.
Earlier this year, Tytana passed away tragically at the age of 29. The cause of death was a drug overdose.
In a statement, Master P lamented, “ Our family is dealing with an overwhelming grief for the loss of my daughter Tytyana…”
When I heard this, I immediately thought about Master P’s early lyrics, as Mr. Ice Cream man wasn’t his only song that mentioned selling drugs. I looked but didn’t see any other writers nor have I heard any other commentaries make this connection.
His statement continues, “ Mental illness and substance abuse is a real issue that we can’t be afraid to talk about.”
I agree wholeheartedly with him and was truly saddened to hear about the passing of his daughter.
But there is another issue we need to talk about. And that is how rap/hip hop music promotes and celebrates things that are not healthy for our society. Catchy beats, awards and notoriety don’t take away from the lyrics that all too often promote violence, drug use and criminal activities. The messages and visuals promote death and destruction.
Some say, “ It’s just music.” “It’s just entertainment.”
Until it isn’t.
My hope is that we can use this as a turning point to change our perspective on what many say is “just music”. Let’s hold these record labels and artists accountable for the messages they distribute. Let’s hold ourselves accountable as consumers for the messages and themes we support and reward. Rappers lyrics’ about robbing, killing and stealing are playing out every day in the streets in cities like Memphis. I do not want this for my child and I do not want it for yours.
The record shows that Tytyania connected with her own “Ice Cream Man”. The music may have netted him fans, fame, fortune and followers but the reality left him Mr. Miller with “overwhelming grief.”