AllHipHop.com: Since the late ‘90s, a lot of artists have complained about the South’s dominance, but by all accounts you guys are tight with a lot of East Coast artists, including Brand Nubian. How was that experience?
Pimp C: Yeah, they’re friends of ours. As a matter of fact, I was a fan of theirs before I ever met them. We went on a promo tour back in the early ‘90s. Whenever I used to come to New York, I would always stay at Lord Jamar’s house. He used to stay in Brooklyn in the same building as Jay-Z before he came up and moved out of Brooklyn. Those are good guys. Lord J has been instrumental in my career as far as giving me game at the right time and other insights. I look at him and Too $hort as guardians or godfather types in terms of helping me with what I need to do at different times in my career—so that answers that.
Okay man, the bottom line is this: at one time everybody in the East was eating, n***as was eating out West, but nobody was eating down here. If anybody should’ve been mad or bitter it should’ve been us. But now that things have evolved and the game has switched some people are bitter about that, and that’s cool. That’s their opinion, everyone has one, they’re just like a#######. The bottom line is that the s**t we make ain’t even Hip-Hop music. It don’t even have anything to do with the Hip-Hop culture except that it’s Rap. We ain’t got no backpacks, we ain’t never rode on no trains—we got Cadillacs and Gucci briefcases around this motherf**ker. And I’m not bashing nobody, I’m just telling you straight up. I can’t spraypaint worth a motherf**ker, I don’t know a thing about graffiti other than the fact that it looks pretty to me. I don’t even know how to catch the subway, but I know how to drive a Cadillac though. The only things I know about Hip-Hop culture is what I’ve read in books or seen. So, when Kris [KRS-ONE] was saying, “Y’all n***as ain’t real Hip-Hop,” it offended us back then, but he was right. Oh how right was he, so very right. I think the misconception is that we wanted to be Hip-Hop. Maybe some of us did, but at a certain stage if someone keeps telling you that you’re not a part of this and you cannot be this you’ll see. If you keep turning somebody down then eventually they’re going to stop trying. What we did was we created our own thing, our own culture and our own artists. Our sound was what we grew up on, both Hip-Hop and the s**t that they labeled “Gangsta Rap,” [which] to us was just West Coast music.
It may be some people salty that we’re selling records right now, but here’s what we need to do. Let’s put all them n***a’s records on one side of the store and put all the Country Rap s**t on the other side of the store and see who sells the most records. If your records ain’t selling, maybe you’re rapping about the wrong s**t! It’s not their fault, it’s not Mike Jones’ fault your s**t ain’t selling. Don’t be mad at him ‘cause he’s got 14 cars and he just bought the new Ferrari. If you’re really mad, say some names then. Don’t just shoot your little cap out on your mixtape, say somebody’s name if you’re really mad then. What you mad over? Y’all had your time to shine, and truth be told, the ball ain’t gonna stay in the South forever. It’s going to go back to one of the [other] coasts. But, while it’s our time to get it respect that and do you. I think a lot of these n****s wasn’t selling no records at first. If that’s how you feel, then say it and say someone’s name. Just know that every action has an opposite and equal reaction. So, after saying that…whatever, we ain’t trippin’. Just know that we’re listening, we’re buying y’all records. I know about everything that happened from 1979 on up until today. You can ask me about any artist who has come out and I can tell you that I’ve either had the vinyl or I’ve heard it. I bought half of that s**t with my own money so I know my Hip-Hop history. I’m a fan of Hip-Hop music, but what we’re making is a hybrid form of it.
AllHipHop.com: Don’t you think you guys helped redefine what Hip-Hop is though? There are people outside of Texas with Screw Tapes and Grills.
Pimp C: Yeah but gold fronts didn’t originate in Texas. My aunties and s**t from Louisiana have golds in their mouths. People in the South have been wearing gold in their mouths for years. You can gold all the way back to the ‘20s and ‘30s and look at the pimps that had gold in their mouths. People had gold fronts in New York way back in the ‘80s. It’s a misconception. Who can take credit for that? It’s just that it’s being revised right now. Paul Wall put it down and a lot of people were feeling that, he’s got a good thing going and there are a lot of imitators. Some are better than others, but it ain’t going anywhere.
It’s just like Rolex watches. Remember when everybody wanted to wear Rolex watches? Now it’s changed and went to something else, but Rolex ain’t go out of business. They’re still making watches, but it’s just not the fad anymore. Them boys from New Orleans been wearing slugs in their mouth. Now that it’s popular and makes money when you see a grill you relate that to Texas but that’s not necessarily the case. Yeah, we’re doing that but we can’t take full credit for that.
AllHipHop.com: You’ve said that your sound was influenced by The Chronic, among other things. Do you take any credit when you hear people using the 808’s and organs that seem to be influenced by Supertight and Too Hard To Swallow?
Pimp C: No, I was tremendously influenced by the West Coast in my production style. Dr. Dre had a big influence on the way I was trying to organize and put my beats together. If you go back and listen to early N.W.A. records, actually go all the way back to World Class Wreckin’ Cru, but his formula of letting the bass run live all the way through and putting a guitar in is a lot of what we do. They used that 808 for years on the early Eazy-E records and some of the stuff that was happening out in the West. Rodney-O & Joe Cooley also had a big influence on my sound as a producer. Those were the things that I was listening to then. The Chronic was the blueprint and it’s still affecting people now: the way it was mixed, the way he arranged the instrumentation, the way he incorporated samples with live instruments. You have to recognize it as a classic, I see a lot of different ratings that say this, that and the third. What record was bigger than The Chronic? Show me that record! Tell me what record, rhyme for rhyme and beat for beat, was doper than that. Show me that record g######## ‘cause I wanna hear that motherfu**er.
AllHipHop.com: Speaking on your production style, how do you adapt from that rough, live feel of “I Left It Wet For You” to today’s crisp, high-tech sound with the newer equipment like the MPC-3000 and Pro-Tools?
Pimp C: When everybody’s studios are ran off of computers of course it changes what I do. What I used to do was a different way of doing things, so I try to keep it as close to what we were doing as possible. Do I like Pro-Tools? I like some things about it, but I feel real nervous knowing my songs are still in some motherf**ker’s computer and I can’t even get my s**t out of there when I leave. That s**t is some bulls**t designed by people that like to steal records. But, as far as editing, it’s a dream when it comes to doing things faster. Do I think that all studios having that computer s**t has cheapened the quality of the music? Of course it has, records don’t sound like they used to bro. There’s too much technology involved and you can hear it. Go listen to some of those old records that we were doing in the studio with SSL boards and a two-inch tape machine. You can hear the difference between that s**t and what these n****s are making right now. The game is popcorn, it’s like comparing something that was cooked in a microwave to something from a gas stove. It might be the same ingredients and even the same recipe, but it don’t taste quite the same in the end. It’s gonna to go back to the real and people are gonna figure it out. It’s all about finding a happy medium between the technology and the old way of doing things. Some will perfect that and some won’t, some just don’t care.
AllHipHop.com: A lot of people from this next generation of Southern artists such as T.I., Mike Jones and Lil’ Flip credit UGK for influencing them. Are you similarly influenced by seeing them take that sound to another level?
Pimp C: Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to work? Wasn’t Run influenced by Grandmaster Caz and them? Weren’t they influenced by them the same way me and Bun were influenced by KRS-ONE, Ice-T and Schooly D? Things just run in cycles and all we’re talking about now is timing. UGK came in the game before them and there were people who came in and influenced us too. The things that are jammin’ at the time when you’re growing up are the things that will influence you when you become a man. They’re just going off of what was jammin’ in the ‘90s.
We just happened to be putting out records that they could relate to at the time. I grew up off of a different set of rappers than Mike Jones and them did. To me Big Daddy Kane and them was some bad motherfu**ers ‘cause them was the n***as I grew up listening to. What if UGK came before the Geto Boys? They inspired us, but that’s one hell of a “What If” right? Timing is a motherfu**er. Them motherfu**ers raised me off of those records. So, yeah it’s nice that people like T.I., Flip, and Killer Mike give it up. That’s what they were listening to in high-school out there running them streets, but it’s all about timing, man. Back when I was in high-school Big Daddy Kane was the coldest motherfu**er I ever heard in my life, next to Run. N***as couldn’t f**k with Run’s style man. That n****s whole persona was the s**t. Of course, I’m talking about the Run from back then, you know what I mean.
AllHipHop.com: It’s ironic that you mention the two different versions of Run, since we all see him doing the family thing now…
Pimp C: Everybody grows, and as you get older you change man. Change is a natural thing that comes with time. You can’t expect for a man to be doing what he was doing 15-20 years ago in 2005. As you get older you want to change for the better don’t you? I would think so. He’s doing what he has to do to feel good about himself and be the best man that he can be. So, yeah I miss the old Run, but when I want to hear it I go back and play that record. If I can remember correctly, I don’t think I’ve ever met Run. I think I saw Run way back, but he was such an intimidating character to me that I was afraid to approach him. I saw him around, what was that album where it looks like they’re walking in the sky?
AllHipHop.com: Tougher Than Leather?
Pimp C: Yeah, I seen him around the Tougher Than Leather time and I was afraid to approach him. It was just so unreal to me.
AllHipHop.com: Now that we see him doing the family thing on Run’s House, I wanted to ask about you, since you’re a family man too. How about the family side of Pimp C that we don’t see? Are you going to PTA meetings and helping out with science projects?
Pimp C: I pick up cleanings, buy clothes, grocery shop, and pick my kids up here and there. I’m not home as much as I’d like to be, but I am home on some family s**t. I go to the car wash and do the things that a father and a husband are supposed to do. I think anything else would be quite ludicrous. All of my kids have a really good understanding of who daddy is out there, who daddy is at home and what daddy does. It’s not always a healthy thing being in the music industry, but I feel you don’t bring your work home and you don’t bring your home [life] to work. That way if one is not doing as well it doesn’t affect the other.