Houston is hot.
Actually, hot doesnt really describe the citys temperature. Sweltering is more like it. For the last few days, its been pushing 90-degrees at night. Even
with those temperatures many notables in the Hip-Hop and entertainment
community have come down to participate in Trae Day, the annual July event
awarded by the city to Houston rapper Trae for his outstanding work within
the community. After violence erupted at
the Trae Day last year many expected the festival not to take place but Trae, who
wanted to make sure kids still got to enjoy the carnival held in their benefit,
pulled off a successful event. With the heat, one would think attendees would pack up and head to the nearest place to rest their
heads. Not even. However, a select (and diverse) few,
including rappers Jae Millz and Lupe Fiasco, media personalities Angela Yee and
Julia Beverly, adult movie stars Pinky and Ice La Fox, and a several DJs,
producers, and others, travel to a nondescript studio just south of the citys
downtown. It is here that Bun B presents his third solo album, Trill OG.
Its been two years since Bernard Freeman released, II Trill, and nearly two decades since
he and his rap partner Chad Butler signed with Jive records as U.G.K., the
Underground Kingz. Under the monikers
Bun B and Pimp C the duo put out classic albums and gained the respect of fans
and artists like Jay-Z, T.I, Wale, Talib Kweli, and .well the list goes
on and on. Its hard to find an artist in Hip-Hop that
doesnt appreciate U.G.K. Since that first
album Bun has seen Pimp C become incarcerated, get freed, and then suffer an
untimely death. Throughout it all Bun B
has maintained the U.G.K. name. He almost
speaks in interviews as though Pimp C is still here and you can definitely feel
the late rappers presence in Buns music, which is about to take it to the underground again.
The new album features artists like Drake, Young Jeezy, Tupac,
Letoya Luckett and even Pimp C. That coupled with
production from DJ Premier, the Neptunes, J.U.S.T.I.C.E League, among other makes for a album for the ages.
After about an hour of milling around and listening to
radio singles booming through two large speakers, Bun quiets the crowd. Grabbing the mic he states, “Im not going to
say much. Im not going to say whos on
what song or stop the music to say who produced what. Im just going to let it play because this is
a complete album. After his brief moment with the crowd, Bun B directs his more vocal side to talk to AllHipHop about this new album and his place in the industry.
When you opened up the listening session earlier you spoke about having
the opportunity to make a complete album.
What did you mean by that?
Bun B: A
complete album to me is where the directive of the album is not to make songs simply
for radio consumption or to make songs simply for video consumption or to do
things we feel will just go on the internet.
My concept was to make a complete album.
When you make a full, complete album you end up with good problems. Like, damn we dont know which single to drop
because everything sounds like a single.
Damn, we dont know which direction to go because we have so many
options. Thats what I wanted to do for
myself. I wanted to paint myself in a
corner where all we could do was make good music. We just wanted to go against everything that
everyone was doing right now for the sake of the game.
AllHipHop.com: You also mention J Prince and how important he
was in creating this album? What was so instrumental
about him in this process?
Bun B: J
Prince to me is not just a CEO. We are
partners when we do these albums in terms of the financial situation. But beyond that before I was ever an artist,
before we had any financial situation, J Prince was always in the corner of
myself and Pimp C. He was always a very adamant
supporter of U.G.K. He would always give
us his time and advice. He was there whenever
we had any situation, as far as attorneys or helping us get out of any
situation. And this was before he was in
any position to make any kind of profit off of U.G.K. It was simply because he thought we were
representing the South, and Texas specifically, in the proper manner. Business wise, the reason I chose to sign
with Rap-A-Lot Records was because I wanted to have a personal relationship
with the person I was putting out music through. Im able to have that relationship with J
Prince. I can see my CEO if I want to
see him. Hes not hiding behind office
walls. If I call and say I want to talk
to you, hell ask Where do you want to meet and have a sit down? Its just that simple. As a friend he knew the situation I was in, personally
and emotionally, when trying to deal with everything. He told me not to rush myself, to take the
time to work through this process, and to just feel my way through it. Just make the best music you can. [He would say] We arent worried about a
single. If you want to work with this producer we can
but we dont have to. If you want to rap
with this dude you can but you dont have to.
Do whatever you feel you need to create this album but dont feel like
you need to lean on anything. Take your
time and do the best thing for you. I
feel bad that every artist doesnt have a person like J Prince in their
Now when you talk about dealing with everything emotionally I assume
youre talking about Pimp Cs death.
When you released Trill Pimp C
was in jail and you were pushing for his release. He gets out, you guys start recording,
release an album, and then he suddenly passes.
Youve released II Trill and
now Trill O.G so what is it like
creating an album without his influence?
Actually, I cant even answer that question. Its not like his influence has left me or
that he isnt still a part of the process.
Grieving for an artist is no different than grieving for anyone
else. Everyone deals with death
differently and everyone deals with it the same. We all hurt when we lose people we love. That being said, people that havent had as
much support as I have had, or have had as many people in their corner as I have
had, have gotten up and dusted themselves off.
They are able to keep it moving so why cant I? Im blessed to have a strong wife and family background.
I have a real strong church-house. I have a real strong connection with God and
that lets me understand that these things happen. We learn whatever lessons we can from it and
move forward. But we never forget the
people who have passed on to the other side because one day thats going to be
us and we dont want to be forgotten. We
just always remember the good times and make sure that we dont disrespect the
memory of him as a person as well as his musical legacy. Beyond that its U.G.K for life.
then how does this album differ from your first two solo albums?
Bun B: I
think that there is a different level of confidence behind it. With the first album we were kind of feeling
our way out. With the second album we
knew what we were doing but we kind of took it for granted. With this one were not taking anything for
granted. We are fully focused. We are aware of our position in the game, what
we need to present to the people, and how it needs to be presented. I think thats what we accomplished.
replayed the album for everyone because you still had artists like Lupe Fiasco
just arriving. He and a lot of younger
artists appear to have a lot of esteem for you and you guest star on a lot of
their songs. How do you stay on a level
of competition with artists that grew up listening to you?
Bun B: I
wouldnt say that. I wouldnt say its
competition. Well, everybody thats an
MC is in friendly competition. Thats
kind of the nature of the beast. That being
said, I just try to be as honest with people as I can. I think people appreciate that. I think its a welcome breath of fresh air
when people know that can go to someone with unfiltered commentary. Thats what U.G.K has always done. We cut through the red tape. We were never the guys to try to make up
fancy words for things or try to sugarcoat.
We just tried to give it to people straight up because we felt like that
was the problem that everyone was trying to sugarcoat what was going on in the
AllHipHop.com: One of the songs that got a big response was Right Now which features
Pimp C and an new 2Pac verse. How did
that all come together?
Bun B: Well
he came through about two months ago and . [laughs]. Nah, just kidding. It was actually a song that we had recorded
for a Tupac tribute album that unfortunately did not make the album. It kind of got lost in the archives and then
it ended up getting pulled out the archives.
The estate gave me the opportunity to bring the track back to life, so
to speak. It was really just a matter of
timing. Just being in the right place at
the right time. I definitely take my hat
off to Ms. Afeni Shakur and the estate of Tupac for giving us the
opportunity. Just giving us the
opportunity to to just mash on it. Its
a great verse. The irony of the fact is
that Pimp and Pacs subject matter is just so akin on that particular
track. I was trying to keep up with them
which is amazing because Tupacs verse was laid in the 1990s. Pimp Cs verse was laid in the 2000s and my
verse is made in 2010. Im trying to
keep up with these guys. It sounds like
they are recording right now.
have DJ Premier on the album. Now,
Premier is from Texas, a fact that a lot of people forget, so how did you end
up working with him on the album?
Bun B: Premier has been a friend and supporter of
U.G.K for a long time, and weve always been looking for the right time to
record. We were actually going to record
for the double album that U.G.K released in 07. Unfortunately he had just finished the album
with Christina Aguilera and he was going into the studio with Whitney
Houston. He had a lot of things going on and we just
couldnt schedule it out. So, we still
ended up doing a song, and incredibly Pimp C is still actually apart of the
song, so to us its a U.G.K record produced by DJ Premier.
also took the time out acknowledge the recently deceased Guru on your
album. Youve spoken before about how
artists from that golden age of Hip Hop have influenced you. What influence did Guru have in your music?
Bun B: The
group Gang Starr definitely had an influence on Pimp and myself. Pimp made the beats and I was the primary
lyricist. Even though Pimp rapped as
well, there were still parallels in the dichotomy between U.G.K and Gang Starr. We always looked up to them. Pimp looked up to Premier as a producer. I always looked up to Guru as an MC. I dont think [Guru] gets his credit as a
storyteller because he really didnt tell stories, but he painted his pictures very,
very well. He could go from a four [bar]
about his lyrical flow, spend eight bars
in the middle of a verse painting a picture, and then in the last bars go back
to the first four like its just .Man, dont get me started on Guru. The unfortunate thing about it is when I got
the recording process started with Premier, Guru was very much alive. It was during the process that he passed
away. Its unfortunate because we didnt
want to have to do anything like [have to honor Guru because of death] but God
works in mysterious ways. We were able
to honor him in a very real way right before the turning in of this album.
A lot have people came out to support you tonight as well as on your
actual album. Youre cited by many
artists as an influential force in their careers. Whats your take on your influence in Hip Hop
Bun B: Ive
just been lucky to have people like Too Short, E-40, and Big Daddy Kane. They have been in mentoring positions and
have helped to guide me in the right direction.
If I can be half as instrumental in other peoples careers as they were
in mine then God bless the situation.
Thats what Hip Hop is all about.
Trill OG Tracklist
“Chuuch!!!” (feat. J.
“Trillionaire” (feat. T-Pain)
“Just Like That” (feat. Young Jeezy)
“Put It Down” (feat. Drake)
“Right Now” (feat. Pimp C
“That’s a Song (Skit)” (feat.
Bluesman Ceddy St. Louis)
“Speak Easy” (feat. Twista &
Bluesman Ceddy St Louis)
“I Git Down for Mine”
“Let ‘Em Know”
“Listen (Skit)” (feat.
Bluesman Ceddy St. Louis)
“All a Dream” (feat. LeToya
“It’s Been a Pleasure” (feat. Drake)