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The Making of UGK’s “International Player’s Anthem (I Choose You)”

There’s no questioning UGK’s legendary status. The Port Arthur duo’s DNA can be found in Southern stars from T.I. to Rick Ross—an elite bunch who proudly dub themselves UGK alumni—and their appearance on Jay-Z’s 1999 smash hit, “Big Pimpin” helped their influence cross regional boundaries. But, despite their immaculate track record, Pimp C and Bun B hadn’t cracked the Billboard Hot 100 with a single of their own until the release of “International Player’s Anthem (I Choose You)” in 2007. Featuring André 3000 and Big Boi of OutKast, the song served as the second single to their gold-selling Underground Kingz LP and garnered a Grammy Award nomination.

With the single, celebrating its fifth year anniversary tomorrow (June 6), XXL caught up with Bun B, André 3000, Big Boi, Juicy J and DJ Paul—their answers didn’t always match perfectly five years later—to look back on the making of this classic song.—Carl Chery (@cchery), Ralph Bristout (@RalphXXL) and Calvin Stovall (@CalvinStovall)

The Builders’ Spot

Bun B
Port Arthur rapper, one half of UGK

Andre 3000
Atlanta rapper, one half of OutKast

Big Boi
Atlanta rapper, one half of OutKast

Juicy J
Memphis rapper, producer, one half of Three 6 Mafia

DJ Paul
Memphis rapper, producer, one half of Three 6 Mafia

Juicy J: The beat was on Project Pat’s Layin’ da Smack Down album, you know, when Project Pat was in jail, and [the album] did like 300,000 copies or could be gold now. His first album went platinum, but he kept goin’ back and forth to jail, so the second one went, like, gold. Pimp C loved the song. It was called “Choose You.” When Pimp C got out of jail, he was like, “I want that same record that was on Project Pat’s album.” We [had] put that record out as a single [at first], but Sony didn’t push it ’cause Pat was in jail, so it didn’t do anything. Pimp said he wanted that same beat and [didn’t want] to change nothin’.

Bun B: I didn’t initially understand it. I had been down that road before where Pimp heard music and was like, “We need to use it.” And I was like, “Man, I don’t know.” We had a bad experience with that one time. First of all, let me say this. I don’t think a lot of people know that Project Pat was probably one of Pimp C’s Top Three rappers, period. So, Anything Project Pat-related, he was always the first to buy it, support it and crank it. When he came home that’s all he was screamin’, that Pat had this song on his album called “I Chose You” and the beat was attractive, but [Sony] didn’t really promote it.

When he came home he was like, “Man, I love this song and it was a hit and they didn’t promote that muthafucka like they should.” That’s all he kept sayin’, that [it] was a hit record. I was like, “There’s nothin’ you can do about that, but he was like, “I want to rap to that muthafucka.” I said, “You got to be kiddin’. You can’t rap to this dude’s song. His album just came out. It hasn’t been out that long. It was one of the albums that he got when he was locked up and listenin’ to. He said trust me, “I’m gonna call Paul tomorrow.” So, he called Paul and reached out to explain that he wanted to do the song. He was like, “Man, we got a big budget and I’m gonna make sure we break some bread and do the song.” They were all for it. Project Pat wasn’t trippin’.

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