Bun B: Trill Recognize Trill
Now with Pimp gone but hardly forgotten, Bun B continues the legacy of UGK, the unofficial ambassadors to Port Arthur, Texas, their life-long stomping grounds. He sat down with HipHopDX this week to talk about his solo project II Trill [click here to preview], and preserving the memory of Pimp C. As Bun B continues his candid interview, he takes a close look at the impact of the lyrics of his past hit Sippin on Some Sizzurp, why peace is better than beef, and why the media needs to leave Lil Wayne alone.
HipHopDX: You have been a pillar to the underground as well as successful veterans, so what was your thinking in bringing a newcomer like Sean Kingston onto the single?
Bun B: Sean Kingston was a youngster I'd meet at a couple of different award shows. And as I got to know him, I realized not only was he a talented artist, but he has a strong team behind him and he has a strong head on his shoulders. And that in itself is a good enough reason to work with people in this business...
DX: Now I also heard that youre a huge Punk rock fan...
BB: Yeah, I listen to a lot of Punk rock.
DX: Who are some of your favorites right now?
BB: I tend to listen to a lot of west coast Punk like Suicidal Tendencies, Black Flag... but then I still listen to The Ramones every now and then... The Sex Pistols, or go across the water and get my Clash on every now and then... nowadays angst is all pretend and imaginary to me. Most of theses people that swear theyre suffering or have it all bad, you read their Blender article and find out that their daddy invented paperclips or some shit... like lets be serious. [Laughs]
DX: [Laughs] So will there be any elements of that genre on the new album?
BB: Umno, probably not. Ive actually been talking to a publishing company that Ive been considering doing some business with and they have a lot of different Punk music in their catalogue. So weve been talking about seeing if theres a way to work that into the next project.
DX: I Also heard there is a dedication track to Pimp C
BB: Yeah, its called Angel in the Sky
DX: How did you decide to approach such an obviously personal and painful topic?
BB: I realized at the end of the day, that when doing my song for Chad, that I shouldnt worry about what fans and friends and family would think. I should only be beholding to myself. So I wrote the record that I needed to hear as opposed to that.
DX: How have you been coping with his loss?
BB: Its been difficult at times. Id be lying if I didnt admit that. But at the same time we have a really clear understanding over here about what the UGK family needs to be doing. So we get by with the grace of God and we keep moving forward.
DX: What memories of him stand out to you the mosthow do you like to remember his spirit?
BB: Chad was a very silly person. He joked a lot. He always wanted people around him to have a good time. He was very adamant about that. So it was kinda like whatever it was that you enjoyed to do, if he could help facilitate that he would. 'Cause at the end of the day, he just wanted everyone to have a good time and just be the best person that they could be. He always inspired me when I wasnt strong enough to move forward with the things I needed to do.
DX: You guys had been in the game for a long time you were making music together years before the first UGK album dropped in '92, and still managed to bang out a #1 hit this past year, plus a Grammy nominationdo you think Pimp C ever fully recognized the impact UGK had on the industry before his passing? And for that matter have you?
BB: Yeah, and I think the industry has started recognizing that as well. Slowly but surely, we started to really grasp exactly how deeply we were hitting people with our music. Its one thing to have fans recognize it or give you accolades and lift you up, but its another thing to have The [Grammy] Academy. The Academy may not necessarily understand what I do or why I do it, but they understand the impact of the music we make with respect to the people we make it forand they were willing to acknowledge us for that. And at the end of the day, I can't do nothing but accept that with open arms. Any true musicianany real producer, any true writertheyd be lying if they said they didnt want The Grammys to acknowledge them. Thats the world stage for saying "You did your thing" in music.
DX: IndeedNow is there any possibility of another UGK project with previously unreleased recordings?
BB: Yeah, theres one more. We were in the process of putting together the last UGK record to fulfill our deal with Jive. So that album was already in motion and there was a lot of music already done, and vocals laid down for it. Its just a matter of making sure theres no sampling issues, no content issuesjust making it the best well-rounded album. We about to bring in some other producers, some more artistsyou know, just making sure everything makes sense. You know, not just going out and doing a song with Whitney Houston or somebody just because we can. At the end of the day, we still gotta be respectful of the legacy that UGK has already put forth.
DX: Do you have a time frame for when the last UGK album will be released?
BB: Um, right now like I said, were still getting some of the music collected and I'm not in control of all of the music Pimp C left; his wife is. So its a matter of seeing what she wants to do. So were just waiting to see. I would love to see the album come out in fourth quarter 08, personally. I think it would be a great time to drop an album like thatbut at the end of the day, its gotta be right, and its gotta be done with respect.
DX: Definitelyswitching gears for a second, Lupe Fiasco spoke recently to us about your friendship. Tell us a little more about that collaboration "Swang On 'Em," and your mutual respect?
BB: Yeah, man, Lupe, to me, is one of the great up-and-coming writers in this rap genre. ..one thing very few rappers do is let other rappers know that they are tight because a lot of times those people can be a threat to them. So number one, I wanted [Lupe] to know that I liked his flow and respect his content and is there was any advice that I could impart on him; then I would try to impart itbut also hes just a great friend and a good person to talk to on a regular basis. We have a lot of common world viewsnot allbut we have a lot in common. Plus hes a fan of the Houston Hip Hop scene: Willie D and Scarface, Geto Boys and what not. And Im a big fan of Chicago Hip Hop. I listen to a lot of Crucial Conflict, and Do Or Die, and Twista, and Psychodrama, who are very good friends of mine too. So we arent just fans of each other, we are fans of each others' scenes. So theres a lot of things we have in common to build on. We were even able to record together for my album. The song is called Swang On Em and its probably not the record you would expect from Lupe, but he definitely drops that "Go Go Gadget" flow it and its crazy.
DX: I think its dope that you guys can speak about your friendship. Its so unfortunate that in this industry theres always so much talk about beef. Its about time that two grown men can sit down and say You know what? We have respect for each other."
BB: Just to be 100 about everything, Im a street person. I come from the street and I reflect the street. And in the street, beef dont make money. And we about makin money. So anytime you got beef or war or whatever, that shit stops the money flowand it costs money to go to war too. It costs money to beef. And Im about keeping this money right now; Im about gettin this money and keepin it. Im not fittin to let these lil' rumblings get to me. Im not wit' these third and fourth and fifth party conversations. If somebody got something to say to me, Im everywhere. At every awards show, album release parties, red carpet, [NBA All Star Game], Super Bowlall that shit. I'ma probably be at the [MLB All Star Game]. All that shit. I ain't hard to find. So anybody that got a problem with me, I'm very easy to reach out to. But Im about my money. So if you coming at me and plan on stopping my money, you better have a good reason. And you better be ready for a fight.
DX: I seeWell, with or without beef, music sales are down across the board but especially within Hip Hop. Do you think youll follow in the lead of other rappers and begin to venture into other artistic mediums like acting, fashion etc?
BB: I think everyone in the industry, not just rap, but I think everyone across the board is gonna have to put some type of slash after their title because a lot of these outletstheres not a lot of money left like there used to be. There used to be incredible artist budgets and incredible endorsement budgets and a lot of different things. But people have abused these things and taken advantage of them to the point where theres no weight or validity to them anymore. Now people are finding it harder and harder to spend money on rap-related shit. You got these morality clause and people arent really living life the way they wanna live it. So with downloading and the incredible accessibility people havewe gotta cross-collateralize ourselves. We can't just expect the music industry that has been paying bills to keep paying bills. So we gotta find some other shit to get in to pay the bills.
DX: Have you been looking into anything specific?
BB: Im talking to a lot of different people. I wouldnt wanna say anything before its all done in paper but, yeahmy promotional tour is mainly sponsored by Microsoft and the Zune MP3 player. Im not just promoting my album; Im promoting the technology that Microsoft is putting out there. Its something that I believe in as a consumer and secondly its a great look for me as an entertainer. It gives me a way to connect with my fan base in a way that I never would have. People get to look at my Zune tag and see what Im listening to, they can go [click here] and get daily updates, photos, touring info these things were never available to me solely with a record company because there is only so much money they can devote to things like that. So with Microsoft coming through with about 90% of the promotional touring budget its just a beautiful thing that probably never would have happened had it just been a music thing.
DX: Now despite a general sales decline in music, Trill did very well in 2005, without much radio or video love for that matter. Now that Asylum has found radio and video success with Boosie, Webbie and Shawty Lo, how do you think II Trill will market differently than before?
BB: Well I dont want it to market too differently. I like the way we connect with the people, and I like the way we getting the music and the message across. So as long as we stay true to what we do and what weve been doing, I dont see why we cant benefit from [everyones success] incredibly. But at the end of the day, we still gotta get out her and touch people, greet people, take pictures, shake hands, answer questions. Interact with people on MySpace, and television, and Facebook, none of that replaces hand-to-hand contact with the fan-base. Thats something that I continue to do, not only during album time, but on a daily basis. Ive never been ashamed to touch my people; I dont have a big wall of security around me where people cant walk up to me and shake my hand and ask me something. Ive always been accessible to people and I think thats the way it should be as an artist.
DX: Yeah, youre somebody who has always kept it real in this industry. What's the secret? What motivates you to always be accessible, and be yourself no matter the circumstances?
BB: I remember where I came from. And the people from where I came from will never let me forget where I came from. So no matter where I go, I know Im representing P.A.T. and if Im not representin Port Arthur, Texas to the fullest they gonna definitely let me know when I come home. And I go home. Im back in the hood and back on the corner, Im not just from Port Arthur, you can catch me in Port Arthur. So when I go back home Im standing on the corner or you can catch me in the barber shop or the projects in the cityI gotta be able to walk through with my head held high because nobody else in that small town is in a position to represent them, so it really falls on me. It fell on me and Pimp. Now that Pimp is gone, it really falls all on me. I'm like a one man band, as far as the city is concerned. And Im dedicated to makin' sure were represented right.
DX: You were also vocal about the syrup epidemic recently, after the passing of Pimp C. And just within the past couple weeks Lil Wayne has started to talk publicly about his addiction to itwith that being said, how do you look at a hit from your catalog like "Sippin' on Some Sizzurp" nearly 10 years later?
BB: I mean, if everyone judged themselves at 28 on what they said or did at 18 I dont think anybody would be happy with themselves. You get older, you learn different things, you go through life experiences. If people close to me hadnt passed away from syrup, maybe I wouldnt feel the same way. Its the same thing like you may be happy to have a gun in the house till maybe one day one of the kids or a family member gets a hold of that gun and shoots themselves, then you probably gonna have a different mentality about guns in the house. Everything comes with life. People change at their own rate. This is my change that Im dealin' with. And keep in mind I had already stopped sippin' syrup. I didnt just stop after Pimp passed. I had already made a conscious decision that I was tired of wakin' up with my stomach all twisted up. I grew older.
As far as Wayne is concerned, people can't look at my statements and expect Wayne to move off of what I say. Hes a grown man and everybodys gotta do what they do in their own time and own speed. People have been dying from cocaine for years; doesnt stop people from using cocaine. People have been dying from driving drunk for years and unfortunately that doesnt stop people from driving drunk. So everybody just has to [stop their addiction] at their own pace. I kinda wish people would leave the kid alone. They're putting too much pressure on him, and you can't make anybody do anything. And if the media really wants to see Lil Wayne put his cup down, then I think they need to give him some room and time to personally figure it out for himself. You can't force people into a corner. People need to give that kid some room to figure it out for himself.
DX: You might be right on that onenow you talk about all of the personal changes youve gone throughso with this new chapter of life beginning, whats next for you?
BB: Like I said, its still UGK for life. Im gonna make sure people know Pimp C was here and remind them of what his contribution to the game was and remind them of what the game is lacking now that hes not hereand just take this movement as far as I can take it. Im here as long as the people want me here to represent. I look at the Chuck Ds and the Willie Ds of the worldthe LLs and the Ice Cubesthese people are still impactful. These people were already making records and were already who they were when I came in the game. So why would I think with my little 15 years that my run is over when these dudes are workin' on 25? Public Enemy will be eligible for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in a minute. Thats gangsta. Thats what Im working for.