HipHopDX recently spoke with Bun B in New York's Universal Fontana offices. In part one, Bun explained how Rap-A-Lot Records' purchasing a studio allowed him more creative space. In the next segment, the UGK legend was asked about his relationship with 2Pac, honing the sound for Trill O.G., and getting the right personnel.
UGK and 2Pac were both rising stars of the early '90s. Both having a mutual alliance in Scarface, Bun B was asked if he ever met 2Pac, especially given the 'Pac verse on Trill O.G.'s "Right Now" . Bun explained, "We never did [cross paths], actually. It's funny you brought 'Face up, because 2Pac's introduction to UGK was by Scarface, during the recording of 'Smile.' 'Face gave 'Pac the [Ridin' Dirty] album, and 'Pac played the album." In the years following 2Pac's 1996 murder, Bun B would go on to work with his former Rap-A-Lot label-mates, The Outlawz. Bun appeared on "Big Ballin'" from the group's fourth album, Outlaw 4 Life: 2005 A.P. Through this association, Bun learned of his brief impact on 2Pac from his closest circle. "EDI from The Outlawz came home [from Texas in late 1996] and was like, 'Yo, I don't know who these cats is, I don't know where they from, what they do, - 'Face just gave me this album, but these cats talkin' 'bout what we talkin' 'bout, these cats gonna be down with us." Although 2Pac really enjoyed the recordings he heard from Bun and Pimp C, time would never allow anything greater. "Unfortunately, he passed away about two weeks later. We never got to meet him. But EDI was like, 'He definitely loved [UGK's] music."
DX and Bun also spoke about the personnel changes within Trill O.G., and how the esteemed emcee crafted an overall sound. "I've been very lucky to have built a lot of incredible relationships with some of the best people in the [music] business," began Bun. "I've also been lucky enough to have those who I haven't necessarily been able to have a personal connection with be fans and admirers of myself [sic]. The beautiful thing that's happening in the music industry right now is that people who could be charging hundreds of thousands of dollars for their contributions are taking their power and using it to help bring people up who they always felt should've had a better shot, or should've had a better look." With Trill O.G. being a largely independent release through Rap-A-Lot, high-profile collaborations with artists such as Drake, T-Pain or Gucci Mane would have been difficult to secure just a few years ago.
Bun continued, pointing to the eagerness and generosity he witnessed from some of Rap's top hit-makers. "During the process of recording [Trill O.G.], we sat with J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League - I recorded eight songs with these guys within three sessions. Whatever I wanted to rap to, 'Whatever you want, just take it.' The same thing with Play-N-Skillz." The Irving, Texas duo is perhaps best known from their Grammy Award-winning effort in Chamillionaire's "Ridin'" just three years ago. "[Throughout] all three Trill albums, Play-N-Skillz have brought everything. I mean, they've pulled out all the hard drives." Bun also revealed that he recorded three sessions with Florida's Cool & Dre, and completed two songs with The Neptunes' Pharrell Williams that he described as "incredible." Although the latter examples did not make the final cut, Bun B said there is good reason. "I think that the people we picked and the sound that we picked for this album was just what was needed for this album. When we go from this level to the next level, we start bringin' in the people like Pharrell and stuff like that, and it'll make a little bit more sense. But you don't want to shoot too big, too fast and bite off more than you can chew." With all three of the Trill albums received by fans and critics warmly, Bun declared, "I can't compromise something good in hopes of something great."
However, with Young Money's Drake a large presence on the album, Bun was also asked the same question he's got since Houston Rap's resurgence five years ago: based on his influence on today's stars, will his own base expand? "I think it's also possible based on the people involved with this album," Bun answered with a smile. Then again, he's answered that question since his solo career began in 2005. "At the same time, we've had Jay-Z on [Trill]. We had Lil Wayne on [II Trill]. So with this album having people like Drake and Trey Songz, who was also on [Trill], I mean, you always want to shoot for the stars. As long as I can make an impact with the people who got me here, I'm fine." Bun refuted the logic that it's worth disappointing 20,000 core fans for 10 new ones. "If I have to choose, I'm gonna keep the [20,000] happy, 'cause they've been there for 18 years."