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'.


DJ Paul: We brought that [beat] back out. It just didn’t work for [Project Pat] because Sony didn’t get behind it. Maybe 2002, 2003 or some shit or whatever. Pimp had told us he loved the record. [He] was like, “Man, that record a hit, man. When I get out [of prison], I want you to give me that beat. Leave it just like it is.” I’m like, “Alright.” So, when he got out, he came to our house in L.A. and we recorded the record.

Bun B: This  song was never supposed to be UGK and OutKast. This song was UGK and Three 6 Mafia. The initial sampler from the album had [a] version with UGK and Three 6 Mafia. What happened was the sampler was released during All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles and it just so happened that Big and Dre got their hands on the sampler. We get one call from Big Boi sayin', "Hey man, I love this song and did a little remix beat to it and if you guys want to use it, check it out."  They send it over and around the same time we get a call from Andre askin', "Is that song closed out because I really like that song and want to jump on it.” This was just a matter of circumstance and at the same time we were havin' issues gettin' the lyrics cleared from Sony for Three 6 Mafia.

DJ Paul: Three 6 Mafia was originally on the record, but Sony was actin' a fool and didn’t want [us on it], which was dumb as hell. They were still ridin' off the hype [from] the Oscars and all that shit. They were more happy about [the award] than we were. So they was trippin’ on clearances for us [and] UGK ended up puttin' OutKast on it, which was good. OutKast is a huge group. I love OutKast. I’m glad they were on it ’cause I got a chance to say I produced somethin' for Outkast as well. Everything worked out for the best.

Big Boi: [Jive] called and was like, “We wanna get you and Dre on this remix with UGK.” We was on the same label. Organized Noize was doin' a remix for it, so we was like, “Hell yeah, send it.” So they send it, and it was a couple other beats they had, too. But I guess the one we did was the one they decided to go on. It was just cool, man. I just commenced to attacking it. Dre had already put his verse on there, maybe a couple of days beforehand. Dre’s already on it, we need to get you on there. So we was like, “Yeah, let’s do it.”

André 3000: I would hear from Bun every now and then and we kept talkin' about doin' somethin'. When he and Pimp asked me to jump on the IPA song I was excited to work with them again. It wasn't even nothin' to think about. They sent the track and I just wrote what I thought "choosin'" for real meant to me. Since the sample in the record said, "I choose you". I don't know why I went to marriage as a topic, but I guess that's the ultimate version of "choosin'." The marriage and the reaction from guys and girls was the focus, so I just imaged what my potnas might say to me if I were to go down that road.


Bun B: Once we got in the Dre verse, which is what you hear. He was like, "I like it, but I want to rap without the drums, I want to rap over the loop." The version that you hear Big Boi rappin' over on the song is actually his re-production somewhat of the track. That’s why the sample is kind of dropped out over the beginning of it. That was his take of the song.

Big Boi: I was like, “Damn, you gon’ keep the beat out the whole damn time like that?" They gon’ let him keep the beat out? How they gon’ God Damn play this shit in the club if the beat ain’t in the muthafucka?” He always has a reason for it. The [way] I tailor made it to fit my verse, he made it fit his verse. Actually rappin' over the steady beat, he couldn’t have been as laid back as he was.

Bun B: In the midst of not being able to clear Three 6 Mafia before the album comin' out and the fact that OutKast was already signed to Jive as a group, it just kind of happened that way. “Player’s Anthem” was originally supposed to be a song from UGK and Three 6 Mafia because we were actually workin' on a group together. UGK and Three 6 Mafia were workin' on Underground Mafia that was goin' to be a group with all four of us together.

Big Boi: It was dope. UGK, as far as a group in itself, is definitely one of our influences comin' up. We used to bump UGK in high school. When our first album came out and then UGK did “Super Tight,” we was just fans of they music. 8Ball, MJG and UGK, so to do a record with them it was like, “Hell muthafuckin’ yeah.”

Andre 3000: I met Bun and Pimp C very early in our career. When we first arrived on the scene, I think there was a Southern kinship unspoken. Being that I listened to them in high school along with Odd Squad, Big Mike and Gheto Boys, I was happy to see how welcoming they were to us, the new guys, and they really kinda ushered us in. Throughout our time in the business, Pimp and Bun have always been true to us. Even when people where trippin' on me for stretchin' out and tryin' new things I got a call from Pimp C and he said, "Man, fuck all these pussy ass niggas. They just scared and don't know what to do with it. That shit y'all doin' is the most gangster goin' cause you doin' what the fuck you wanna do." After that, not that I was hesitant at all, but I knew if "Pimp C" of all supporters understood then ... I'm good. Ha.

Bun B: Just the fact that [Andre] was interested in rapping on the song was a trip because at the time he wasn’t really rapping at all. He was like, "I’ll rap on it, but I probably won’t do a video, I’m not really shooting any videos." We were like, "That’s fine, that’s no big deal. I would just love to have you on the record." But once we got it we knew it was special. Everybody knew it was special. Andre just opened this song and Big just closed it. This is crazy.

Make sure to log onto on Thursday June 8, as Bun B, André 3000, Big Boi, Juicy J, DJ Paul, and many more, remember the making of UGK's "International Player's Anthem (I Choose You)" video.

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