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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  • land lord

    Classic ish! R.I.P Pimp C.

    • CaponeMOB

      and once again,all this classic shit on the billboards three 6 mafia produced the track for 2 Legendary groups,and yet i have never seen my favorite group/producers of all time in my fuckin favorite magazine,and i have been buyin this fuckin mag for 11yrs! is their some type of conspiracy against three 6 mafia? is it the name of the group that scares you niggaz @ XXLMAG? but yet,you niggaz got this ugly COON nigga wocka in the recent issue? what has that no flow no lyrics havin garbage nigga has contributed to HIP-HOP/RAP?

      i would really LOVE to see how XXL go’s about pickin an artist for the cover. what fuckin criteria you niggaz go by?..SMH

      • CaponeMOB

        interesting that Three 6 Mafia have ALWAYS had good chemistry with UGK but they only jumped on a handfull of tracks together. Pimp C and Bun B blended perfect with DJ Paul & Juicy J beats,kinda like on some Snoop and DRE,or mannie fresh and Juvenile and B.G. shit. just go check out “on some chrome” or “Like a pimp” or the Classic “sippin on some syrup” these are all three 6 mafia Feat.UGK song’s. check them songs out on you tube good shit. that underground mafia group would have been EPIC.

  • slimmwood

    good sheeit

  • junghova

    some good music right there

  • leefx

    Wonderful story… would be sick if XXL did this for more huge songs in hip-hop history.

    Very interesting.

  • Shawty J

    Excellent piece, XXL. We need to see more stories like these, both in the magazine and on the website!

  • Money Mitch

    They should do an entire issue with stories like this!! I wish pac was alive so he could recall making smile with scarface and johnny p!! This article is amazing and illustrates why I am proud to be UGK alumni!! I got a plan for a Ugk tat im gonna put in the works when i got the dough for it

  • PolishFan

    Shit is crazy. After 5 years we hear about planning of probably the biggest south supergroup of all time. It would be more than epic. Three 6 Mafia & UGK album? Mannn, I would jump the ocean to buy it. It’s fucked up that pimp is no more with us. He was the best. The best rapper of all time.

    UGK 4 Life!