Bun B Wants to Start Dialogue About Keeping a Healthy State of Mind in Inner Cities
As hip-hop has moved past viewing ageism in a negative connotation, the role of the O.G. has become vital to the culture. One of the elder statesman that has embraced the responsibility that comes with that distinction is Bun B, who remains relevant more than 25 years after making his debut as one-half of southern stalwarts UGK.
Despite being four years removed from his last body of work, 2013's Trill OG: The Epilogue, Bun B has remained in the mix in and outside of the booth, appearing alongside artists young and old in between schooling the youth—he's scored a gig as a lecturer at Rice University throughout the past decade. Using his voice to spread awareness on various issue that impact the underprivileged members of society, Bun B has become one of the most respected figures in rap, with a reputation that precedes him.
The MC, who recently announced the Aug. 28 release date for his forthcoming Extended Play EP, may be among the more tenured artists in the game, with a message full of maturity and substance, but that doesn't mean that he's not opposed to having a good time and entertaining a crowd. The Texan did just that at this year's Grits & Biscuits concert in Coney Island, Brooklyn on July 8.
Performing on a bill that included Juvenile and Jeezy, Bun B, who headlined the show, brought the crowd to a fever pitch with a slew of classics, plus his new song "Gametime," proof that he has yet to lose his ability to own the stage and put on a hell of a show.
We had the opportunity to chop it up with Bun B backstage prior to his set at Grits & Biscuits and got his take on his goals for 2017 and which artists he feels are doing right by their community and hip-hop as a whole.
XXL: What goal are you trying to achieve in 2017 that you have still haven't accomplished yet?
Bun B: I think it's important to let people know about what I kinda go through on a daily basis that I think everybody else goes through on a daily basis like, as far as keeping a healthy state of mind. I know a lot of people deal with anxiety and depression and other different things. Everything isn't a major health issue, but people deal with things every day and I deal with them too.
So one of the things, musically and personally, that I'm gonna be doing as I move forward is definitely start addressing those issues in the inner city. Vice did a piece recently about how a lot of people in the inner cities of America deal with PTSD and don't really realize it because of the environment that they grown up in and the things that they've seen. And that's why we get a lot of the self-medication with the rise in pills and syrup, and weed and all that stuff.
A lot of people don't really know that they're self-medicating based on what we've seen throughout their lives and we don't really have a lot of outlets to really talk about that kind of shit, man. So I gotta start a dialogue and if ain't nobody else gonna do it, I'ma do it and I'ma talk about it. Oh, and I'ma make some jamming music and shut boys down, too.
Which artist in 2017 do you feel is most impactful to the people so far this year, whether it's in hip-hop or out? And why do you feel this artist is the people's choice?
I think inside of hip-hop and outside, I think we all have to tip our hat to Chance The Rapper. One, for being an incredible artist making music that really defines genre categorization, but also because of the fact he's determined to give back to the city that he comes from. And, on an entirely other level, I think it's very beautiful to see artists like Kendrick and [J.] Cole and Chance—especially Chance —winning a Grammy, getting on stage and claiming it in the name of Jesus Christ.
It's a beautiful thing to see a young man that age do. And it's genuine. It's not like when everybody wins a boxing match or wins a basketball game or something. This was very different, it was very real, it was very honest and genuine and it impacted me. I look at him and I look at cats like Buddy from L.A. and BJ the Chicago Kid and this young generation not scared to share their spirituality and their spiritual awareness. And as older artists, we should be ashamed of ourselves because we could've been doing this, ’cause we all grew up in the church. So they're throwing it out there and as an O.G., I'ma make sure I back ’em up on that.
If you only had one song to listen to for the rest of your life what song would it be and why?
That's a good question. Probably "I Love the Lord" by Whitney Houston, if I had to listen to a song over and over again. That song never gets old to me and it feels the same way to me every time I've ever listened to it. That would be the one.
Mumble rap is a constant topic this year when it comes to the new rappers. What are your thoughts on mumble rap? Do you feel like people are giving the newcomers in rap a hard time?
I've been rapping professionally for 25 years. It was music people that didn't understand then, there's music people don't understand now. There's a thing called the generational gap that exists where everybody doesn't understand what's happening on the other side. If they chose to call what they do mumble rap, that's them. I wouldn't dignify that shit if I was them, I wouldn't even dignify the term, the same way that we as people from the streets didn't really wanna dignify gangsta rap.
When they tried to define us like that, we chose to define it as reality rap and street music. So if they wanna take it and flip it on its head, [cool], but either way, fuck who says that because that's just some sucker shit, talking about some mumble rap, that just mean you don't speak the slang. Don't get mad ’cause you don't speak the slang. I ain't know what Buck-50 meant, I had to learn. I ain't know what mathematics meant, I had to learn. Go do the fucking knowledge, nigga. Quit hating.
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