It’s often said that hip-hop is no country for old men. It’s a statement that’s been put to the test this year as more and more of rap’s biggest stars have started to grow old with grace, releasing albums that touch on the importance of legacy while still trying to forge new ground. Despite the success of projects like Jay Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail, hip-hop is still seen as a young man’s game. Whether that’s due to most rappers not being able to sustain their careers past an “all gold” single, or because the genre is intrinsically skewed towards younger audiences, or both, it’s a discussion that a college professor might be able to get to the bottom of. Maybe someone like Bun B.
The part-time distinguished lecturer at Rice University, UGK legend, and full-time gate-keeper to all things Texas and hip-hop, recently tied up his four-part installment of the Trill-titled album series with his latest release Trill O.G.: The Epilogue. And while it’s impossible for anyone who appreciates hip-hop to say anything negative about Bun’s immeasurable legacy as a truly influential and original Southern artist, as a project, Trill O.G.: The Epilogue leaves much to be desired.
Sonically speaking, the production and feel of this album doesn’t differ very much from what listeners have been getting on the past couple Bun projects. In large part, that’s due to familiar, yet talented, faces like Big E and Steve Below, who work well with Bun’s signature voice, flow and delivery. Though the three have worked wonders in the past, the new album offers little in terms of evolving a sound that was already beginning to lose traction over some of Bun’s previous efforts. There’s a disappointing lack of cohesiveness and consistency to The Epilogue, something that was so admirable about Bun’s UGK days and even his earlier step-out-on-the-scene solo projects. The two biggest highlights, other than the Big K.R.I.T.-produced and Pimp C-featured “Cake,” which sounds like Bun (and Pimp) passing KRIT the keys to the proverbial car that is Southern rap, are the few fond reminders to yesteryear like “The Legendary DJ Screw,” and “On One.”
The fact that so many of the album’s tracks are feature-heavy helps distinguish some of the otherwise-similar sounding songs, and adds to the overall playability of the project. While a lot has changed since his UGK days, and even from his first Trill album, The Epilogue does make a couple things clear: Bun B can still rap very, very well, and cares about proving it, too. While this won’t be his most successful album and probably his least memorable, it’s a welcome reminder that as a genre, hip-hop is infinitely better off with Bun B still involved. –David Inkeles