As record executive and rapper Master P embarks on the process of disseminating Empire, From The Hood To Hollywood, his fourteenth LP (fifteenth if you count the independent Living Legend: Certified D-Boy), the New Orleans hip-hop icon is no doubt taking a few of his fan-made privileges for granted. As the second major release of No Limit Forever (the Romeo Miller-managed second reincarnation of P’s No Limit Records), Empire (released today, Black Friday Nov. 27) continues the Miller family’s reputation for pulling themselves up by the bootstraps, but once listeners register what the music on the project has to offer, it must be wondered what their efforts are for at all. An undeniable failure of modern formula utilization and weak unoriginal street subject matter, Empire insults its audience’s intelligence purely for sales quite obviously, and its participants would rather pretend that they are oblivious to the fact and go along with the charade than admit it and/or satirize their material.
For an album that is more or less ‘turnt up’ from start to finish, Empire doesn’t make up for its loud music with the necessary messages. Relentless drill and very little else crumble and smash every track to bits, fragmenting the musical integrity of the production. On this new offering by NOLA’s original hip-hop “Ice Cream Man,” Master P is better suited as a ghetto music garbage man, relocating the refuse of aged gangsta rap from those who have already used it and no longer want it, to the landfill-sections of the independent rap music market where innocent, unsuspecting and unassuming customers shop for hits. P is of course his old, unenlightened ghetto success story self egged on by producer and Future-soundalike BlaqNmilD, rappers Money Mafia and Ace B and a host of other replicated, trap music imperialists, and exactly how Master P got Lil Wayne in the studio for the recording process is beyond this author’s guestimation.
At any given point on Empire, P offers only one of just five different feelings: self pride, frustration, romantic love, sexual love and raucous (sometimes out of hand) energy – the standard mood chart of a suppressed hood individual in hip-hop dying to bust loose and gain power. For fans of inventive wordplay, innovative production and valuable lyrical insight, sitting through and listening to Empire is definitely a bear, a chore rather than a relaxing timeout from life. Ignore this project completely unless you are genuinely interested in Master P’s late-career musical progression. It can’t really be called evolution because it truly is not that. Still, it has to be recognized that P is putting forth some effort on Empire, but excluding some decent bonus material, all of the main album sounds like a middling attempt by an already rich and famous mogul at making a little more pocket change on top of his sizable wealth. Master P’s camp claims that proceeds made from the album’s sales will go to purchase Christmas gifts and toys for needy underprivileged families, but the music itself needs a whole lot of work.