The South wasn’t always as prominent in hip-hop as it is nowadays. Just as the West Coast made it’s rise to power in the 90’s with artists like Dre, Snoop and Pac, the South wouldn’t be where it is today without a handful of artists. Amongst these artists is Chad Butler (better known as Pimp C). As one half of UGK he represented a way of life that, for many, wasn’t previously acknowledged. As the South rose up during the noughties, when Chad was incarcerated, it seemed rare to hear a track that didn’t have “Free Pimp C” exclaimed somewhere throughout it. When Pimp C tragically passed away in 2007 due to an accidental promethazine and codeine overdose, he hadn’t truly reached his huge mainstream potential (as a rapper, singer, producer and song-writer, Pimp C would have fit in perfectly with the current generation of artists), due to the unfortunate route his life took during his final decade.
Three years after his death his first posthumous album The Naked Soul Of Sweet Jones has been released: it sees previously unreleased verses from Chad, alongside today’s most popular mainstream rappers such as Drake, Rick Ross and Young Jeezy, as well, of course, as his partner Bun B. As a solo artist himself, Bun is at the height of his game in 2010, releasing an album, Trill O.G., that received the prestigious “5-Mic” rating from The Source magazine, as well as contributing countless features to other artists; Bun’s career demonstrates the potential that has been lost due to Pimp C’s untimely passing.
I recently had the chance to talk to Bun about his partner; with both of them having new albums out now, it seems that UGK are just as relevant now as they ever were. I asked Bun about the effect Chad had on his own work; “To be honest, most of his musical legacy is tied in with mine,” he told me “so it’s automatic that I honor him as I do mine. Beyond that, folks don’t understand his influence and inspiration to me and so many others. Whether as a writer, producer, rapper and friend; he touched countless lives and careers, mine included.”
I inquired how much input he had in The Naked Soul Of Sweet Jones. As Pimp C’s musical partner for almost 20 years it would seem logical that Bun would have been consulted on the project, however he informed me: “My input on this album wasn’t as large as people would think. His estate controls his music, and wanted to be very hands-on with the project. I had to respect that. I had no say into who rapped or produced on the project.” Bun doesn’t hold any grudges about this decision – on the contrary he endorses and supports the release explaining, “I made myself available to his wife for whatever help she needed. No one could have done what he would, but she did a great job.”
With posthumous albums there is always the worry that perhaps the artist himself would not have been happy with some of the decisions that are made, and this makes the whole process tricky. Who really knows how Pimp C would have gone about putting together an album in 2010? Bun feels that The Naked Soul Of Sweet Jones would have made Chad happy, informing me “I think beyond music, he would have been proud of those involved that gave their best effort. That’s all he ever asked, and would’ve expected.” He also addressed the negative comments surrounding Drake’s inclusion on the album stating; “And for the record, because I knew him better than almost anyone, he would’ve loved working with Drake. I’d bet my life on it.”
Chad’s demise came from his use of “sizzurp” (the recreational use of cough syrup, which contains promethazine and codeine), something that has been referenced a lot throughout UGK’s records. When asking Bun about his own use of the drug he informed me; “I stopped using Codeine before he passed away, not after, for personal reasons. It was a personal decision for health concerns. I still have other vices though, so I’m not perfect by any means.” When asked how he feels about codeine now, after the passing of Pimp C, he replied; “I don’t condone underage use of any drug, and I don’t judge grown people for their choices. Just don’t hurt any kids with your habit and we are cool.”
The death of someone close is always going to have a major personal affect, and understandably Bun was less forthcoming about his emotional response to the loss of his best friend, “Pimp C passing affected me the way death affects anyone. Fame doesn’t make you immune from grief.” When asked how he managed to handle his grief in the public eye he used only two words, “Pain.” and “Prayer.”
For more from Bun B check out his video for “Ridin’ Slow” feat. Slim Thug & Play N Skillz