I've been a long time fan of UGK's bold, bass-heavy Port Arthur, Texas-based rap. We all know that Pimp C and his partner Bun B's feature on Jay-Z's "Big Pimpin'" in 2000 contributed equal parts--with Jay-Z's verse and Timbaland's beat--to the song's success.
I interviewed Bun B for Down magazine two years ago, and he told me that even though "Big Pimpin'" played such a pivotal role in giving UGK more mainstream exposure, he and Pimp C did not want that song to change the group's sound. Bun B was referring to what he described as pressure from their record company to capitalize on attention from the Jay-Z collab and to follow up with more songs like it. They refused and continued to stay in their lane.
Integrity like that does not seem to exist in today's music business. It really is fitting that their name UGK stands for Underground Kingz.
While getting my daily fix of HHNLive's Mad Rumorz report this morning, I noticed that Bun B had given his first interview since Pimp C's passing on Tuesday. In the Vibe.com article, Bun B said something that I hope everyone can hear. He said that he loved his friend of more than 20 years.
"I know we're in the era of 'pause' and 'no homo' and all that, and that's all fine and dandy, but if you really love your homie, don't feel like you can't tell him you love him," Bun B said. "Who gives a f--k how somebody take it. Because when things happen, you're going to wish you had said it. You're going to wish you said it louder."
Isn't this almost the antithesis of hip-hop?
How dope of Bun B to say that? That their friendship was that solid. My point it not that I think every guy needs to start telling his boys, "I love you." I'm just saying that it's great that their friendship was that strong. That at Pimp C's passing, Bun B has no regrets. He knows that his friend knew where he stood. Considering all the inner-crew squabbling in hip-hop sets these days, this is great.
I was especially saddened by the news because Pimp C had just gotten out of prison almost two years ago and quickly resumed things with UGK. Their last album, UGK: Underground Kingz, was their first to enter the charts at No. 1. Both Bun B and Pimp C were picking up more guest appearances on singles from other hip-hop elite. It looked as though their status as underground kingz was expanding quickly. Pimp C's passing was indeed untimely.
In the mid to the late '90s, I was managing editor for a hip-hop newspaper called Rap Sheet (not to be confused Rap Pages). I remember covering UGK in our Texas regional report written by Pam Harris, the respected Houston based editor and publisher of Street Flava magazine. When editing her article, I somehow accidentally typed either Bun B or Pimp C's name wrong in the published article.
Pam was pissed. She couldn't wait to point out the error, and what she told me left me without a response other than, "Sorry."
She said, "Billy, I am in Houston and see these guys all the time. That story has my name on it. I had it right in the article I turned in. This makes me look bad."
The point she was making was that these guys are local legends. How could she, a fellow local, get their names wrong. It devalues their contributions to hip-hop.
She was right, and this happened more than 10 years ago. It is crazy to think that the group is just at the beginning stages of getting its mainstream props.
May Pimp C rest in peace.
Check out their latest video "International Players Anthem" featuring Outkast and the Houston Mic Pass Bun B put together for us. When we told him that we wanted to bring our Mic Pass microphone to Texas, he told us to let him pull together all the rappers. We were expecting it to be great, but it still remains one of our best All Star Mic Passes to date. Enjoy.
- Bun B