Bun B of UGK: Keep it Trill

UGK is one of the most long-standing, well-respected groups in Hip-Hop history. After years of being tucked away Port Arthur, Texas, these southern secrets have maintained a catalog of hits that have inspired the dope boy magic and trap rap from most of today’s stars. Even when Pimp C was locked up the last few years, Bun B was an Underground King delegate, rapping on records from Jay-Z, Scarface, Young Jeezy, Slim Thug, and T.I. Now, after Pimp has been home for a year, the UGK clique is just a month away from releasing a self-titled album, where the underground mainstays collect the mainstream love that they’ve been owed for years.

Holed up in Manhattan’s Sony Studios, Pimp C fiddles with a “Pocket Full of Stones” remix while Bun B tackles questions on keeping it trill, The Juice Crew, and the women in his life. Bun B has been known for spitting hard lyrics dating back to 1988, but he deserves just as much respect for his hard answers and modesty, despite legendary status.

AllHipHop.com: On the upcoming UGK album, you’ve got a track called “Up Next” with Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap, and production from Marley Marl. To get those three together is a feat in of itself, but tell me the significance of that collaboration for you?

Bun B: I, myself, in the last couple years, during [Pimp C’s] incarceration, I had a tough go in this rap game, trying to keep this name alive. A big help to me was the younger generation’s acceptance of us, and acknowledgement of UGK as an influence on their music. Chamillionaire, Slim [Thug], Paul [Wall], [Lil’] Flip, Mike [Jones], T.I., Jeezy, Rick Ross – a lot of people doing real good, when asked about influences, were kind enough to say us. Even beyond that, some of these cats, in the middle of their fame, would allow me to come rock on stage, do cameos in videos, do guest verses on songs. It was really youngsters reaching out to they O.G.s. So by due process, when Pimp came home, we started doing good, we had the opportunity to do the same, and felt as though we should do it. We reached out to the people who directly influenced us.

Big Daddy Kane is pretty much who Pimp wanted to be, if you look at the style and the swagger – the fly, pimp, playa type n***a that would still whoop your ass – that’s Kane. I represent the real hard, lyrical, on the corner, street, thug n***a in the hoodie, jeans, sneakers, whateva – that’s G Rap. That’s people we indemnify, comin’ up. Pimp had been talkin’ to Marley, they have a relationship. Marley was talkin’ us about doin’ another “Symphony.” We said, “You know what? We could do that, but that’s almost too easy. Let’s take it to the next [level]. How further can we take it?”

AllHipHop.com: This is the first UGK album in a minute. There were also a lot of rappers who cite The Geto Boys as influences, but last year The Foundation didn’t seem to have even the rappers supporting it. Given your legacy, is that a fear that you have coming into this project?

Bun B: No, not with us. Like I said, I’ve spent the last couple years trying to make sure the connection was there. Since Pimp’s come home, we’ve been tryin’ to keep it to the street. UGK has never really been [into] commercial albums, we’ve always been for the streets. So it’s not like we’ve crossed the threshold of people sayin’, “Nah, they didn’t really do what they needed to,” or “Nah, they ain’t all that.” We never made it to the point to where we can even think that we’re all that. So, even though we may be doin’ better than other cats, we still got some room to grow. We still trying to be some eight-figure cats in this game. We still wanna get that real strong label, and make a true outlet for cats in the game, true leadership. We’re just tryin’ to keep our nose to the grind.

AllHipHop.com: Like you said, you’ve always been the go-to guy for guest verses and whatnot. That was the case even before Pimp went away. When you go to do your solo or group projects, have those same people that needed you ever shunned you?

Bun B: That’s a legitimate question. I may have had it happen two or three times, my whole career. Like usually, when I do something for a cat, I’m not necessarily lookin’ for that. If I do something, that’s a decision I make for me, out of the kindness of my heart. I don’t expect nothin’ from nobody, you know what I’m sayin’? I done got f**ked over in the rap industry, by management, labels, whatever, so artists ain’t s**t. I’m not really tryin’ to make too many friends with these cats anyway. I reach out to a young kid, give him a lil’ game, I’m not even lookin’ for a verse back. That’s just on some ‘you do something right in the game.’ I had a few instances where, yeah, I’m gonna do somethin’ for you, you do somethin’ for me, and I might’ve had a lil’ trouble gettin’ that gift back – but they weren’t the people you’d think. It’s never the big dogs. If you ask Jay to come, Jay came and dropped for me. I asked ‘Face to come, ‘Face came and dropped for me. Legendary cats are the more humble cats, with respect. Sometimes, it’s the young upstarts. But you know, I don’t hold that s**t against ‘em – ‘cause some of these mothaf**kas gettin’ thrown in the game right now, got a lot of s**t goin’ on. When I came in, all I had to worry about was makin’ a record and maybe shooting a video. These cats now, got clothing lines, sneaker deals, fitted hats – it’s a lotta s**t that these mothaf**kas gotta deal with. S**t, sometimes a n***a be under pressure, sometimes it might be a lil’ big-headedness too. Like I said, I been around a while, so I know that type of s**t can happen.

AllHipHop.com: You guys branded “trill” really well. Truly real, and I’ve heard from people on all sides, that you and Pimp really walk it like you talk it. All that said, do you ever feel that that’s dangerous in this day and age? I mean, we all remember what happened to C-Bo…

Bun B: Don’t think just ‘cause n***as respect me as an artist that n***as in the streets ain’t try me. N***as tried to follow me home about three, four weeks ago. I did my thing. We do what we do to get haters up off us, you know what I’m sayin’, but…yeah, don’t ever sit around and think ‘cause you have a nice record and because the majority of people come up to you and shake your hand, and like what you do…most n***as that don’t like you, and want to harm you, they don’t come up to you and say nice s**t to you, they in the background, lurkin’.

Karma and all that, all that s**t is cool, but you gotta be a realest in this world. I believe in karma, but that don’t mean the next mothaf**ka believe in karma. So I gotta be real in the world I leave in. Amongst my peers and other artists, yeah, I get respect and I appreciate that – and from the regular cats on the street, that’s cool. But I’m eatin’, and there’s a lot of n***as that ain’t eatin’ right now. N***a thought I may’ve been slippin’ that night. He found different, but, I’m sayin’. N***as’ll try they luck. N***as down, baby mama might be sick, mama might be dyin’, you don’t what kinda s**t they be goin’ through. At that moment, at that time, I might’ve looked like a meal for them – but he ain’t eat what he thought he was gonna eat.

AllHipHop.com: You’ve got this song, “Real Women” with Talib Kweli, another surprising collaboration to some. After years of rhyming hard about pimping, sex, and speaking to the male ego —

Bun B: — We spoke on b***hes and hoes, let’s say what it is! We tend to talk about b***hes and hoes a lot, and will continue to talk about b***hes and hoes on records, because that’s real s**t – there’s b***hes and hoes in this world, b***h ass n***as [too]. At the same time, there’s women in this world too, and that’s something that we haven’t spoken on before. We gettin’ older; we started rappin’ when was 16, 17 years old. N***as start to get older, and we start to see s**t differently. You get one perspective of women as a bachelor. You get a different perspective of women as a father or husband. As we go through these different life changes, [you change perspectives]. Let me say this too, all our fans ain’t hood people. We got respectable people that f**k with UGK, and they deserve a record made for them just the same as the cats in the hood, the b***hes and hoes, and all that s**t. “Real Women” was something that I wanted to give back, like my mom, and most of the s**t I make, my mama can’t listen to. I wanted to make a record that, if she wanted to ride around and listen to me rappin’, she’s got one.

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