AllHipHop.com Features  

Bun B: The AllHipHop Interview

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Pimp C does not define Bun B, but the tragic death of latter’s volatile, longtime rap partner has been a cornerstone of the mainstream attention directed to UGK. Long one of Hip-Hop’s staples, when half of the group departed, it was far more than a daily headline to Bun and legions of fans.According to medical reports, UGK co-founder Pimp C died suddenly due to an accidental, yet lethal combination of prescription cough medicine and a pre-existing sleep apnea condition at a Hollywood hotel in late December 2007. In the weeks and subsequent months after the rapper’s death, his partner Bernard “Bun B” Freeman forged ahead with grace not typically characterized by a Hip-Hop artist. “It was sad, but its definitely a real thing living in Houston, TX,” Bun frankly told a local Texas newscaster. “Being a person that affiliates with the common man, we know that in Houston, TX we have a problem now with the cough syrup epidemic. And, while it wasn’t solely the cause of his death, we have to be very real about its consequences. Bun B kept Pimp C’s name alive (“Free Pimp C!”) when his friend was incarcerated for four years and will continue to do so here on. There is a catch. Bernard Freeman – the man – is an unstoppable force in Hip-Hop and he’s not likely to be confined to the memory of Pimp C. The Port Arthur, TX native is his own person with a viable career to look forward to.The Southern rap impresario has a new album called 2 Trill on the horizon, which highlights some of his most personal work to date. With AllHipHop, Bun is slightly tentative when talking about Pimp, but he offers insight into his feelings. On the other side, some so-called one-hit wonders find a friend in one Bernard Freeman, a voice of reason in an unfair world. AllHipHop.com: What you up to these days, I heard about a new album and stuff like that, can you speak on that?  Bun-B: Yeah, well the new album was pretty much done, y’know at the time of Pimp’s passing. We had the single ready to go. We had three songs to pick from to be the single, trying to pick one and then go ahead and get it pressed up. And we was gon’ try to move on the top of the year but of course all things considered — we had to really pump the brakes on everything. I had to really reanalyze everything, to figure out exactly how we was going to move forward. AllHipHop.com: Did you ever feel discouraged from moving forward?Bun-B: Yeah, of course initially. It was always the notion in my head, Would I even want to do this anymore? If I did decide I still would want to do it – how, when that initially happened. That s**t still weighs heavily on my mind. I’m still trying to put together the words to do my man justice – as far as writing and recording a record about my dude. It’s pretty hard to do. I ended up going back and just doing some remix stuff with some people, and [that’s] really a lot easier to do it on someone else’s project and say R.I.P than open up about what my dude meant to me and all of that. I need to make that song for closure and also because the fans, they need to know. I really don’t care what people expect to hear from me, but I feel I need to do it for my real (true) n****s, it’s something they need to hear. AllHipHop.com: How has your outlook on life changed, if at all?Bun-B: Life is fully precious to me don’t get it twisted. I always have respect for life and people but, I really have just taken my life and family more into perspective — just making sure that (not just financially) emotionally from a life perspective. Which you really can’t prepare people for this kind of thing, but I really want people know how I feel about them. All my homies and close family, it’s very important to know how you feel. And I come from a really, really big family, I got hundreds of cousins not just a hundred cousins, literally hundreds of cousins. So for me it’s really about getting back and making connections with people that love me and people I know I love.

“Some people seem like they would rather Soulja Boy been a gangster. Is that what we really want from a sixteen year old MC?”

AllHipHop.com: Initially people thought drugs; some thought he was murdered, that was the initial assumption. Bun-B:  That because he was a rapper and he was a young black male, and that’s kind of what happens to us. Which is unfortunate in it itself, but when you lose a loved one, as far as general people are concerned, they may look at it a certain way but when it is the person you loved it doesn’t make it easier knowing exactly how they died. If they’re murdered then you definitely want the person to pay for it. But when they [are] brought to justice one way or another – you can’t necessarily say your pain is lifted.CC: Is it true there is a Pimp C sneaker? Bun-B: Yeah, my man (Reggie Simmons) from Jordan brand made me some R.I.P Pimp C sneakers. He actually made two pair, I got one and his oldest son has the other pair. AllHipHop.com: How is the family holding up? Bun-B: It’s rough. The younger kids are dealing with it in a certain way, and his oldest son is dealing with it in his own way. But it’s rough on the kids and it’s rough on the mothers of those children. It’s definitely rough on his mother. It’s extremely rough for his wife right now. She is trying very hard to keep her head up and do the right thing, do right by her husband and his legacy but it’s extremely hard for her right now.AllHipHop.com: Are there any plans for anything to put in place for his legacy. Bun-B: We had recently—like a week and a half before he passed—we got inducted into the Port Arthur Music Hall of Fame, and that’s going to have a nice setup for us. The city, the mayor at the funeral, they were talking about giving him a street and I’m pushing for his birthday to become a local holiday. I don’t know if it’s going to be anywhere else but in Port Arthur, where we’re from. I would like for his birthday to be Pimp C day, so that people wouldn’t forget and so people will always be able to celebrateAllHipHop.com: Is it true that Pimp C or both of you were going to start a female version of UGK called Underground Queens?Bun-B: He hadn’t talked to me about anything like that. He may have been doing something….Pimp was a man of many ideas and many dreams. He had a lot of things that he wanted to do, he had a lot of things he was trying to materialize. He had his hands in a lot of pots and that very well could have been one of them. I couldn’t keep up with all the things he was trying to do, he would come up with two or three things a day. AllHipHop.com: One thing we found interesting, at the funeral it appeared that the feds or some police agency was there taking pictures. Were you aware of that?Bun-B: Oh yeah, they weren’t being bashful or trying to hide it in any sense. We were very aware. They apparently were positioned to take people to their rightful places and walk out from different places…AllHipHop.com: What do you think their purpose was there? Bun–B: I couldn’t really tell you… but I don’t know what they expected to see. I keep asking people I don’t know what they think we were going to do some kind of drug deal – or something like that, at the funeral? I don’t understand what it was; I didn’t know it was a crime to care about Pimp C. If so then label me, guilty.AllHipHop.com: Is there anything to be learned for Pimp C dying?Bun-B: Absolutely, make sure you are living you life for yourself, regardless of whatever the circumstances were going to be, Pimp C made sure he did everything that he wanted to do, he lived his life for himself, [not] for the TV or the radio or for whoever is looking at it.

“Regardless of whatever the circumstances were going to be, Pimp C made

sure he did everything that he wanted to do, he lived his life for

himself.”

Make sure that whatever you do, you’re doing what you want to do so at the end of the day you’ll have no regrets about how your life went because you choose to do what this man said or that man said. Pimp C followed his own drum; I’m not saying that you couldn’t talk to him about anything, or give him advice, or that he wouldn’t listen to what people say but at the end of the day, he was gon’ do what he felt in his heart, he needed to do. It’s important that people understand that. At the end of the day, listen to yourself. Take your own advice; don’t listen to what people have to say. Take in constructive criticism but at the end of the day make sure your living your life for yourself. AllHipHop.com: Are there any other recordings of him, is it possible to get another UGK album?Bun-B: There is another UGK album we’re getting ready to start putting it together now and we can figure out the best way to market and present it to the public – to make sure it does him respect and does him honor.  There is music left, and we have to path a plan to give the fans another album. We was gonna give the fans more than one more album. He was working on his next solo and I was working on mine, but we had already planned to drop another UGK album this fall, and already recorded music toward it. AllHipHop.com: Recently in the music industry we’ve seen a shift to digital in major way. Do you have any thoughts on how you’re perceived in your career? Keeping in mind that digital downloads are becoming more and more important to the bottom line.Bun-B: Luckily, I come from generations of music fans that have to have their CDs, I make car music. I make music that people have to play in a car. Even though my fans definitely listen to my music on iPods and Zune players and iPhones and all these different other outlet, at the end of the day most of my UGK fans, they’re hood people, they’re car people.  They’re playing their music in their car, they usually keep all their music in their CD case. And then they coordinate what’s where by the cover art. I make music with bass it in for people with cars and speakers that can play my s**t. Now that being said I do have fans in the younger generation. I know because they run up on me all the time. I know all of them ain’t buying my CD although they will run up with the CD. Hopefully they’re buying my music from the Zune market place or the iTunes music store or whatever, amazon.com, rhapsody or whatever outlet is selling my music online.  But the reality is they’re probably downloading it on Limewire or on a zip-file or something. And I’m cool with that because – anybody that tells you they’ve never downloaded something is a lie, their just a bold-face lie; besides n***s in the hood that don’t f**k with computers period. But even still, n****s in the hood find a way to buy bootleg movies, n****s is lying if they say any different. At the end of the day it’s almost like you reaping what you sew. Everybody wants to benefit from the s**t when its time for them to get something, but everybody want to get mad when n****s get they s**t. It’s just time to be real about that s**t, y’ know?AllHipHop.com: I get what are you saying.I see a lot of people talk about ringtone rappers. I can’t remember anybody making music that didn’t want everybody to hear it. I can’t for the life of me see somebody spending all that money in the studio, all that elbow grease to get out in the world and yet they only want 50 m’f***as to hear it. That’s ignorant. I never believed that s**t. When n****s talk about they don’t like ringtone rappers, this and that, that’s ignorant. You would love to be a ringtone rapper. No you wont do what they’re doing probably –you probably won’t compromise yourself, but you would love for 5000 m’f***as to like what you doing. You would love for a million people to go out and buy your s**t. Okay fine you don’t dance, that’s cool. But don’t just diss n****s that do because they eating, and you ain’t. AllHipHop.com: You gotta admit, but in particularly in ’07, we saw a lot more one-hit-wonders than we have ever seen before.

“I grew up loving Lakim Shabazz, I grew up loving Poor Righteous

Teachers, but n****s will have the nerve to call them one-hit-wonders

because they’re not around no more.”

Bun-B: No we haven’t. That’s a bulls**t argument. You can pick any year in rap, and I can pick 20 n****s that ain’t here today. I don’t care what kind of music they make.  I grew up loving Lakim Shabazz, I grew up loving Poor Righteous Teachers, but n****s will have the nerve to call them one-hit-wonders because they’re not around no more. Be careful the terminology you associate with people. The reality is people like Soulja Boy ain’t no one hit wonder, because he had two hit records that broke 5,000 bds. I understand people don’t like some of this music and believe me I’m not here to defend Soulja Boy…I’m defending the music. There is no difference between the argument. I said it before and I want to say it again, you got to be real with yourself. Every time you listen to music and you say that’s noise, it’s no difference than the s**t our parents told us about what we listened to. When you and I were young we sat in the room listening to Public Enemy, trying to enlighten ourselves about the black culture — and our parents would come in the room and tell us to cut that s**t off, it was noise. Because they didn’t understand it. I’m not saying there is some big super-hidden sociological impact to be discerned from Soulja Boy. He’s just doing his thing, he’s sixteen what the f**k else you got to talk about at 16 when you ain’t growing up in super poverty with guns in your hand. What else you gon’ talk about? Some people seem like they would rather Soulja Boy been a gangster. Is that what we really want from a sixteen year old MC? At the end of the day we ain’t making s**t four and five year old kids can listen to. Ifyou look at the charts, you can see what our kids are listening to, Hannah Montana. I’ve got no problem with that. To me it just looks like you don’t like somebody making money.  There’s no way Soulja Boy is taking money out of quality pockets, those people weren’t gonna buy quality in the first place. AllHipHop.com: So there’s nothing wrong with Hip-Hop at all now?Bun-B: I’m not saying there’s nothing wrong with Hip-Hop, there is always going to be something wrong with the state Hip-Hop. It’s always fluctuating, there’s always something that doesn’t fit the status quo. But there was no perfect year for Hip-Hop. At the same time we was celebrating something somebody else felt like they were left out.I know because I felt like that certain years. From 2004 to 2005, the years that Houston was on top, when we was celebrating, a lot of n****s felt left out. From 2000 to 2004 when Atlanta was ballin,’ and they’re still ballin’ to a certain degree, n****s felt left out. That’s just how I felt [from] ‘87 through ‘91, that’s how I felt from ‘93 to ‘97 — I felt left out. You got to be careful to not look bitter. “I’m a rapper right now and my money is f***ed up,” but I can’t get mad at n****s that’s eating. I got to figure out what they’re doing that’s making them eat so well. I got to figure out if there is any way at all to bring some one to what I’m doing. And if it’s not, then I gotta figure out a different hustle, in terms of what I’m doing inside of my cycle.AllHipHop.com: What do you think you will do?  Like right now it is big time for rappers to leverage their celebrity into other things. You see Jay-Z, every week he’s doing something new.Bun-B: First let me say this, because I am really trying to impress this upon the young people, and I don’t know how young the average person that reads Allhiphop.com is but I do know the majority of them want to be in the music industry at some point. Let me make this very clear, there are no rich rappers. Let me say that again, there are no rich rappers.   There are rappers who have gotten rich through other entities. When you look at Jay-Z, Jay-Z is not rich through Roc-A-Fella Records, Jay-Z is rich through Roc-A-Wear clothing. Puff Daddy is not rich through Bad Boy Records, Puff Daddy is rich through Sean John Clothing. 50 Cent is not rich through G-Unit Records, even though all these people made good money, I’m not saying these people didn’t make millions on music, I’m saying 50 Cent got rich through G-Unit Clothing and Vitamin Water. You have to put a slash after your title right now, because the s**t don’t pay like that. Even when it paid like that, it ain’t pay like that, now it don’t pay like that. You got like three n****s that’s getting good checks right now, and them n****s trying to get out of rap. They trying to do movies and s**t. What does that tell you? I feel bad because there’s a hundred times the number of kids that want this dream than when I wanted this dream because of the way television has sold this dream.AllHipHop.com: There has to be a place to draw the line though.  I feel bad for n****s because, I be wanting to tell n****s don’t get in the game. But I can’t tell a n***a not to chase his dream; I don’t want to seem like a dream crusher. But Ihate to see these n***s with no sense of reality. It’s almost like they throwing their [money] away for something that ain’t really there, that s**t is a façade.  Them n****s never gave themselves another out, I tell them 30 year old n****s now, if you haven’t smoked that part of your brain yet, n***a get your ass in school. It’s n****s that don’t get a promotion until they’re 44. I look at n****s getting nominated for the Oscars in their 50’s. [But], I cant tell a 30 year old n****a not to chase his dream.  

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