Two years ago today, Chad Lamont Butler—better known as Pimp C, one-half of the legendary UGK—passed away in an L.A. hotel room. The Port Arthur, Texas-born rapper suffered from a respiratory depression brought on by an accidental overdose and a pre-existing sleep apnea condition. Pimp’s death came just two years after his release from prison, following a grassroots “Free Pimp C” campaign spearheaded by his partner in rhyme, Bun B.
Prior to his incarceration in 2002 for parole violation, Pimp had helped get Baton Rouge-based label, Trill Ent., off the ground. The flagship artists were two teenaged MCs by the name of Webbie and Lil Boosie. Although Pimp was serving his sentence as the rap rookies’ stars started to take off, he was still very instrumental in their respective careers. In remembrance of his fallen mentor, Webbie reflects on the life and times of the one and only Sweet James Jones.
It’s hard to believe it’s been two years since Pimp passed—it went that quick. It’s harder for me ’cause every time I open my mouth I’m screamin’ Pimp C… I miss the motivation he was givin’ me. Every time I talked to him he’d make sure I kept my head up. I miss that, but I know if he was here he would be tellin’ me to keep goin’ so I’m just goin’. He put me in the game, ya know. Like right now, they call me Sweet Jones, Jr. For real that’s what they be callin’ me—Sweet Jones, Jr. So you know, I’m keepin’ him alive as long as I can.
When Pimp was locked up he used to call home and we would talk. It was free Pimp C everyday and then he finally came home. It’s just sad he had to die [soon after] he did come home… I don’t know if it would have been better if he would stayed in jail a couple more years [and maybe he wouldn’t have died] but, you know, it’s all a part of life. But I miss him, man.
It was hard dealing with his death. It hit the whole Trill family hard. That just let us know we gotta work hard. Pimp wouldn’t want us to lay down because he died, that means we gotta work harder. It’s so sad, you know, ’cause we can’t turn back.
People were drawn to Pimp C ’cause he was real. He was trill, you know what I’m sayin’. They’ll remember him for holdin’ down Port Arthur. A lot of people thought he was from Houston, but he holds down the whole state of Texas. You know Pimp C was hoppin’ out of Bentleys in a big fur coat and a diamond rock. His swag was tremendous. Whatever was on his mind that’s what he would say; whatever he wanted to do he would do. He was a boss.
One day we was on the phone—I’m not gonna say what record label or nothin’—but they offered us some small change, like a couple million, [to sign me] and he got on the label. He was like, “Fuck that shit!” It tripped me out. He cursed them out for like five minutes and then hung up in they face. He told me, “Nah, we ain’t settlin’ for no muthafuckin’ pennies we tryna be the biggest thing in the muthafuckin’ world, so we gotta be prepared to just ride it out.”
A lot of people looked up to Pimp C. He had that voice. Ain’t nobody have a voice like Pimp and he was a great producer. He produced as good as he rapped. He was talented man. My album’s comin’ out [next year] with a few Pimp C songs on it that we did in the studio so we gonna keep him alive.
If I knew Pimp was gonna die and had a chance to talk to him again I would tell him I’m gonna keep on goin’ like I know he would want me to do. I’m gonna keep on goin’. I’m gonna ride ’til the motor stop for Trill Ent. —As told to Anslem Samuel