UGK Drop ‘Underground Kingz’ Double Album: Today in Hip-Hop
On this day, Aug. 7, in hip-hop history...
2007: "Big Pimpin" was supposed to be their moment in the sun. After the gigantic success of their legendary guest appearances on Jay-Z's classic party anthem, Texas rap legends, UGK, were poised to finally break out of the underground and become a mainstream success. However, an unfortunate parole violation had gotten one half of the group, Pimp C, locked up behind bars for an eight-year bid and UGK's momentum ground to a halt and Bun B was left to hold the torch for the duo.
Bun B was more than up to the task as he became a one-man-guest verse-wrecking crew, going on a legendary run of guest features that made him one of the most ubiquitous presences in rap in the mid-2000s. If you had a hot rap album in that decade, there was a strong chance that Bun was murdering you on your own shit. Combining this with his one-man campaign to "Free Pimp C," Bun became the savior of the group that could have easily faded as one of rap's great forgotten groups.
As Pimp C returned home in late 2005, a fever pitch was reached for their first new rap album since 2001's Dirty Money. The result was Underground Kingz, a massive double LP, that served as a fitting book-end to UGK's storied career.
Underground Kingz was both a commercial and artistic success becoming the group's first and only record to debut at #1 on the Billboard Charts. The album was powered by the group's classic lead single, "International Player's Anthem," with OutKast. The song featured a triumphant Willie Hutch sample and had a memorable video (Andre in a kilt!) jam-packed with southern rap dignitaries. The album itself featured a diverse array of guests including everybody from Rick Ross and Charlie Wilson to Willie D and the UK's Dizzee Rascal. Underground Kingz also tackled a bevy of topics including rap's regional hatred ("Quit Hatin' The South), covers of classic singles (Life Is 2009) and the ever-present allure of a nice car ("Chrome-Plated Woman").
Unfortunately, the album would prove to be the group's last studio album of their careers as Pimp C would tragically pass away four months later from complications due to cough syrup abuse. 11 years later, Underground Kingz remains a fitting a testament to the group's enduring legacy and a reminder that "one day you're here and the next day you're gone."
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