Rappers, country star entertain returning troops at Vicenza
June 16, 2006
VICENZA, Italy — While growing up in the Calliope Projects of New Orleans, rapper Master P learned about the discipline inherent in military life, and its benefits.
His father and grandfather — and many other men in his family — were military members, and his grandfather instilled those values in him at an early age.
Neatly made beds and other pillars of order were a day-to-day thing for the rapper, born Percy Miller.
Those values have paid off for Master P, who has evolved from a rapper to a media mogul and businessman.
He even ended up calling the artists signed to his label “soldiers.”
“My grandfather said, ‘we’re living in the ghetto, but you’re gonna make it out,’” Master P recalled of his grandfather’s emphasis on orderliness. “Almost every man in our family has been in the military.”
Now, decades and millions of dollars later, Master P said he’s glad to give back to the soldiers through free concerts like the one he and his rapping son, Lil’ Romeo, put on Wednesday at Caserma Ederle for troops who recently completed a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan.
“We figured it’s our duty, and we felt it was right to give them some entertainment,” Master P said.
“Me and Rome, being the father and son of hip-hop, the families need us.”
This is the second free concert the father and son duo have put on for Europe-based troops this year, playing in Vilseck, Germany, a few months back.
“These guys are just genuine, and they’ve been through a lot,” Master P said.
“To see these guys, to look in their eyes, after what they’ve been through. It’s amazing, and it makes me smile.”
Lil’ Romeo said he grew up with friends whose parents were in the military, and he saw them have to move from base to base.
“For me, it’s kind of crazy,” the teenage rapper and television star said. “I could be in that situation, too.”
Country music star Lee Ann Womack, who hit the stage Wednesday night before Master P and Lil’ Romeo, said she loves performing for audiences who don’t get the same exposure to concerts as other Americans back home.
“The audiences are so hungry and appreciative,” she said. “My heart goes out to the soldiers and the spouses.”
Those outside the military need to remember that these soldiers volunteered for duty, she said.
“When they have a choice to sit it out or dance, they choose to dance,” Womack said.
Womack and Master P said they weren’t sure why more artists don’t come play for the troops.
“I think it’s very unfortunate,” Womack said. “I spread the word about how well-run these things are.”
Some in the hip-hop business might just be scared of what they don’t see with their own eyes, Master P said.
“A lot of rappers don’t understand what’s going on, that this is the real world,” he said.
“Guys wanna be gangsta, but to be a soldier, that’s real.”