Bun B
Long Time Coming

bunb.jpgPersistence paid off for UGK. Almost 20 years after their 1988 debut, The Southern Way (released only on audio cassette), Pimp C and Bun B earned their first No. 1 album on the Billboard chart with their recently released double album Underground Kingz. This SoundScan triumph was a long time coming for the duo from Port Author, Texas. After their classic 1996 project Ridin’ Dirty topped over 778,000 units, the godfathers of Southern hip-hop began a trend of long layovers. With constant praise from peers and critical acclaim for their previous three releases, UGK seemed primed for their breakout moment in 2000 as they appeared on two of biggest songs of the year—Jay-Z’s “Big Pimpin’” and Three 6 Mafia’s “Sippin’ on Some Syrup.” Despite earning a gold plaque, the Underground Kingz’s 2001 disc, Dirty Money, didn’t live up to expectations. Things took a turn for the worse the following year when Pimp went to prison for an aggravated gun assault charge, derailing the group indefinitely. Left on his own, Bun B hit the mixtape scene with a vengeance and kept his partner’s name alive by shouting “Free Pimp C” on every song he appeared on. Then, with Bun’s solo debut, 2005’s Trill, striking gold, suddenly the UGK brand was back and better than ever. Later that same year, Pimp was released early and reunited with his partner in rhyme to begin working on what would become Underground Kingz. The long-awaited reunion album’s success, however, has been overshadowed by controversy. In July, Pimp conducted an interview with Ozone where he said, “Atlanta is not the South” and made disparaging remarks about Russell Simmons, Houston rapper Lil Troy and R&B singer Ne-Yo. That was followed by an equally inflammatory tirade on Atlanta’s Hot 107.9. With his partner laying low ’til the smoke clears, Bun B talks to XXLMag.com about Pimp C’s comments and UGK’s long rise to the top.

After two decades in hip-hop, how does it feel to have Underground Kingz debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart?
It feels good. I’ve been working very hard at what I do for a long time. But at this point in my career, I’ve always gotten pride at how the people feel about me. I’ve never looked for validation from any other sources other than the people. The people spoke and said we want UGK to be No. 1. They went out, bought the product and made it happen. That’s a testament to them, not just to us as a group, but a testament to the love and the power of the people.

Do you feel like this accomplishment, especially in today’s sales lull, can be an inspiration to other artists?
I think it should be. It’s inspiration to me. Sometimes you wonder if it’s all worth it. I know there’s a lot of people out there that have been grinding for a long time and wonder if they should still be doing this. I had a conversation about this with KB Da Kidnappa from [Houston rap group] Street Military. He’s trying to explain to his family that, “I know it seems hard, but if I stay down with [my music], it’s still possible.” I believe it can for people if you stay true to what you believe, stay completely focused and you put all your energy back into what you’re doing. I think you can make this happen. [Me and Pimp C] had the No. 1 album in the country, but I’m not doing the units a lot of these other cats are doing. But at the same time, I take pride in my accomplishments and everyone should.

The album was initially supposed to come out at the end of ’06. What was the hold up?
It was just mainly the proper set up, with everybody understanding what this album was, what it mean to people and what it mean to the group. Just to really take it seriously for once and exercise all the options that a record company like Jive has to offer. We really wanted to make sure we extended every division of that record label. We tried to max out the marketing, promotion, video department, new media as much as possible. We went in and tried to be interactive as we could with all these departments and to maximize our situation. I definitely feel that with a bigger video and stronger radio single, different set of advertising, the BET special and all these different things were major contributions to this album doing the numbers it did.

“Int’l Players Anthem” featuring OutKast turned out to be one of your biggest singles. Do you feel like that record helped push you guys over the top to get that No. 1 spot?
I didn’t really [envision that] when we did it, ’cause we had already done a [prior] version, we were just having problems trying to get it cleared and run through the system because of what was going on in the Sony building at the time. But, like I said, it’s just kinda how it worked out. There was no master plan, as far as putting together “Int’l Players Anthem” with OutKast. It was a totally different song that UGK was trying to record with OutKast initially. Then Dre reached out, like, “Do I still have time to do something on this album?” Then Big Boi was like, “Yo, I did a little remix verse to this song I heard y’all got with Three 6 Mafia.” So it all fell together.

Did y’all know it was a hit when you heard the final product?
Once we heard it and put it all together, it felt right and we just went with it. The people understood it. We knew it wasn’t the average radio song. It didn’t really fit radio format. It wasn’t a dance. It wasn’t dedicated to a woman. I know the young people control the radio now or whatever. I respect that, but it was just a good record and people appreciated it. It definitely contributed to making this album as big as it is, ’cause this record is still climbing.

One of the other standout records on the album is “Quit Hatin’ the South.” Did you guys feel compelled to address the anti-South sentiments from other regions?
Not really. That was more of Pimp C’s idea than mine. I never really felt like I had to say anything. People are always going to subconsciously hate. I try not to give haters attention. But at the same time, you can only let people throw rocks for so long. You kinda gotta say something. So we just felt it was a need to stand up for the fact that we here. Just because we pro-South doesn’t mean we anti everybody else. But if you anti-South, then fuck you. So we not here trying to be anti nobody. We pro people.

How did you feel about Pimp C’s tirade about various rappers and Atlanta not being the South?
I really don’t have a take on what he said. Pimp C’s comments are Pimp C’s comments. I’m not really not here to defend anybody’s comments. I think he made it clear [in his radio rebuttal on Hot 107.9] that his comments were his. I don’t feel either way about what he said, personally. Anybody has a right to have their opinion and speak their mind. If he feels that strongly about it, then that’s what he’s going to say.

Did you guys ever speak about what he said and how it could affect the group?
It’s a non-issue. Pimp C is an individual, I’m an individual, and together we form UGK. But UGK is bigger than just Bun B and Pimp C. UGK is something that represents for the people and the streets. It’s bigger than the individual. I have individual views that I’m sure Pimp C doesn’t agree with. He gotta lot of views about things I don’t agree with. We individuals. We see things differently, but as far as UGK is concerned, UGK is a movement that stands for the people that represents for the people. We’re here to represent for them and speak for them when they can’t speak for themselves. That’s why he made it clear that his views were not UGK’s views ’cause UGK is bigger than Bun B and Pimp C. The people own UGK. I have a right to feel how I wanna feel and Pimp C has a right to feel how he wanna feel. I think everybody involved in the situation knows what’s what and UGK is still the No. 1 group in the country.

After almost two decades in the game, what’s next on the horizon for you and UGK?
Right now I’m working on my new album, 2 Trill, the follow up to my Trill album on Rap-A-Lot/Asylum. It’s going to be coming very possibly later this year. We’re already in the works. We’re ready to drop a single, but the UGK momentum is still kinda big. So you don’t wanna step on your own toes. But I got my album cocked and ready to go. So keep your eyes open.

  • Justin Kase

    The Trillest. These OG’s in the game, and can’t nobody fux wit Bun.

  • Trev-O-Negative

    Yo Bun b is that nigga and da way i feel,pimp c is more uv da weak link uv da group neway,but his contributionz(production,hookz,and harmoniez)can’t b denied,doin’ so would destroy UGK.It kinda feelz like bun is doin’ a solo album 2 distance his self from pimp,but who da fuck carez as long as bun b dropz anotha album.However pimp c didn’t lie,atlanta ain’t da south,it’z da southeast,i alwayz recognized that,but it makez me feel secure knowin’ it’z da reason i’m well rounded when it comez 2 my music choicez.

  • Trizzle

    Bun B is the shyt real talk and i agree wit Trev-O-Negative that pimp c is tha weak link there, but how the fuck is ATL not tha south?? oh its the southeast tho huh? nigga that got tha word SOUTH in it! Atlanta is the reason they call it the “durty south” how can these niggas be so stupid, but anywat thys whole region shyt is retarded as fuck..next nigga gonna start claim’n time zones and shyt

  • s dot b

    Im from Tennessee and the definition of the hip-hop south is this: Any state that was south of the Mason-Dixon and was included in the confederate slave states, because in the end thats where most all american black culture had to arise from. Lest you forget most of you bougie east and west coast negros can trace your roots back to some plantation right down here in the dirty.

  • INVICTUS

    I totally feel Bun-B. Keep it all the way 100 or don’t keep it at all.

    And you have to respect Bun-B’s interview also. He didn’t get on here wild’n out like most people do tryna make it seem like they SUPER gully. He kept it cool.

    As for the Pimp C remarks on sayin’ that Atlanta is NOT the south. People takin’ it outta context. I took it as, “Atlanta is NOT the only city in the South”. I mean real talk, whenever somebody even brings up the South in a convo. the first place people are gonna think of is Atlanta. And when talkin’ about Hip-Hop, most people are gonna say that “All the southern music comin’ from Atlanta”.

    So he wasn’t sayin’ that Atlanta is NOT the South, everybody knows it is. It’s just not the only city that deserves recognition when talkin’ about growth of Southern rap genres. And that’s ALL THE WAY TRILL.

    ~ROO~

  • MosBang

    This was a weak ass interview. Bun B played it safe when it came to Pimip C’s comments. You shouldn’t have even published that part. At least Pimp C said what he really stood for and what bothers him in the game.

  • jg420

    Man UGK has been the grindin and puting in work for as long as I can remember. Pimp C has always been weaker lyricaly but all of his intangables are part of what make up UGK. Dude has major swagger, and i promise you Bun is not trying to distance himself from Pimp C. He has the flow to put out his own solo shit just like Pimp C put out the Pimpilation after he got out. UGK is the shit son

  • roccocaine

    bun b is a fuccin legend and pimp c is one of da realest niggaz in the game ugk 4 life

  • Fire

    Awesome interview. He answered the questions like a pro, especially the part about not having to defend Pimp C. I liked the way he phrased it.

  • http://a_pratt02hotmail.com The boy Fonz Pratt

    I feel you MOSBANG… On the real, I been banging UGK for a least 12 years now and I must admit, Pimp C has fail off tough!!! I mean, its only so many ways you can talk about pimping. Bun B is keeping UGK going. In fact, them boys are about 35 to 40 years old; therefore,its about that time to hang them up. What can these old dudes tell me about new game and living up North. They should start rapping about Medicare, Medicaid and AARP! Its the youth movement Ya diggg!! Pratt Boys for life!! Cleveland, Oh. (216) Ohio Playa. Whats good to Krazy Ken repping that whole damn Yay (415,510, 209, 707 and even 916) Yeeeeee, Whhhhhhaaaaatttt…

  • http://rapaveli.com Ambition-1

    Bun B is top 5 dead or alive hands down. I’m glad them dudes are finally getting the respect they should have been getting ten years ago when the south was really hot, in my opinion.

  • Freddy(Vega$)

    These niggaz deserve alot of credit, they have been in the streets for as long as i’ve been born and they are still makin Hits!! Pimp C was just high when he was talkin all that shit…

  • Fellatio

    Bol pwned big bun or w/e

  • Dr Flav

    Nah Mos Bang, those questions were an attempt to bait Bun to say something negative about Pimp on some divide and conquer shit(I see you Bill H on your media shit) UGK fo life, Pimp C the weak link? Slap yourself mercilessly.

  • doe

    did yall really think Bun was gon down talk Pimp C??

    Bun is a real nigga…and so is Pimp C…UGK 4 life..

    • http://Rip Oda

      R.I.P PIMP C

  • THAT BOY NOAH

    KB FROM STREET MILITARY IS THE ISH.

  • Numba1Closer

    Bun is a real good dude, cool as fuck and down to earth. Congratulations!!! Nigga worked hard stayed true and continued to be a lyricist even in a area that’s not big on it. And Bun can spit!! Much love nigga. (and he bought a tv from me too.)

  • Redd

    yea the finally smartened up and realeased a double disk to make their sells appear high, not to say that it isnt a good album but that no. 1 billboard shit is a FLUKE. yet and still the sales werent that high anyways. and they from the south, why arent you southerners copping it. it should be plat by now the way yall praise these dudes. theyre good, but they are underground artists. why talk about how theyre no.1 on the billboard charts when in the back of our minds we all know that is crap.

  • Rodjilius

    ugk deserves this no 1 spot yea they honestly should have hit plat wit the work they put in

  • Holla

    shout out to bun b

  • Ant dog

    Man its about time at number 1. to me they will always be number 1.. God bless UGK.. keep it (TRILL) Much love to the entire P.A.T, HOUston, Texas period..(Shouts to my dawg Kathy.B In Spring)
    Mysapce.com/mcg313

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  • KEEP-IT-REAL

    To set the record straight. 1st of all Bun B did right not to fall for the bait in the interview. 2nd, real talk. If you remember years ago, when the East Coast was real hot, Atlanta was claiming to be part of the East. Just in recent years about 8 yrs ago, Atlanta hopped on that Dirty South Dick. And INVICTUS had it wrong. When you think of the South, the first city that comes to mind IS NOT da ATL. You think of NEW ORLEANS (No Limit, Cash Money) and Houston (Rap-A-Lot). A lot of people sleep on Bun & Pimp. They deserve their credibility. How many other rappers you know from the south have survived this long in the game and still holding it down. AND don’t sleep, make way for TRILL ENT!!

    FUCK YOU Disrespectful & Ungrateful Muthafuckaz. . . I think they call ‘em HATERZ