What did success in the 90s smell like? A double disc album, that’s what. It was the ultimate flex in the era of excess, reserved only for the biggest of big willie’s. It was a right of passage for hip-hop royalty. 2Pac kicked it off with All Eyez On Me in 1996, an album that changed the genre forever and would eventually be certified Diamond by the RIAA. Biggie followed up a year later with the posthumous, Life After Death, which would also strike Diamond. To most, these stand as the greatest rap double albums of all time – rare instances when an artist could drop 30 great records in one sitting, successfully running the gauntlet of varying themes and ideas.
Later in 1997, Wu-Tang Clan and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony – the two biggest rap groups at the time – followed suit with double albums to multi-platinum results. Proving that if you had the clout, dropping a double disc was way more beneficial to your bottom line than a solo shot. This was the height of the super-size craze – Americans wanted more bang for their buck – and the double album made cash-strapped teens feel like they were getting a better deal. And from the artist standpoint, a double disc commanded a bigger advance from the record label. But the true finesse of the double disc craze was that sales counted as double. So if you sold two million copies, it counted as four. An industry cheat code if there ever was one.
Listen to Master P’s MP Da Last Don now.
So it was only right that Master P, the biggest rapper in the world in 1998, threw his hat in the ring. He wasn’t a rookie to the double disc craze. In fact, he pioneered it. Rap’s first double CD was actually a compilation called Down South Hustlers – Bouncin & Swingin, which dropped on Halloween of 1995 – four months before All Eyez On Me would hit shelves. Pac is rightfully credited as the first solo rapper to drop a double disc, but Percy Miller actually beat him to the punch.
But this wasn’t just any ordinary double disc. It was MP Da Last Don – Master P’s final album. Yes, the multi-millionaire mogul was going to hang it all up at the old age of 28. Instead, he’d focus on running his label, rolling out blockbuster major motion pictures, and chasing his NBA dreams. He had a full plate, and rap just wasn’t in his future. Too $hort pulled a similar retirement stunt two years prior to much fanfare, so Percy doubled down with the double album and decided to go out with a bang. He was already selling an insane amount of records, so why not see just how far he could push it? The retirement card was a proven slam dunk, after all.
MP Da Last Don hit shelves on Tuesday, June 2nd, 1998. Just six months into No Limit’s 1998 reign, a year in which the label released 23 albums. That equates to almost an album every other week. Keep in mind this was not the digital era. These albums had to be physically pressed up and shipped to stores across the world. It was an expensive operation, but P was selling so much he could drop whenever he wanted to. A true independent within the major label system, and with his 80/20 split with his parent company Priority, P was printing money. Due to the success of his straight-to-video debut film, I’m Bout It, P made a movie to accompany the album’s release: MP Da Last Don the movie. It was a campy hour-long shoot-em-up flick that featured P as the only son of an Italian mob boss. It was completely over the top – and it had every right to be. It appeared P could put a gold Rolex and a tank chain on a corpse and they’d go platinum. He was literally turning artists with no buzz or presence into stars overnight on brand name alone. Master P was a marketing genius, and MP Da Last Don was his biggest caper yet.