In his own words, Bun B talked about his rap career and having the trillest burgers in the game.
Bun B is hip-hop royalty. He helped put Port Arthur, Texas on the map as a force to be reckoned with as one of the forefathers of Southern rap in the 1990s. With his cinematic lyricism and vivid storytelling, he remains one of the most highly regarded MCs in the hip-hop landscape.
Bun B first emerged on the national scene as one-half of the legendary duo UGK with his partner Pimp C, releasing classics like their debut Too Hard to Swallow and Ridin’ Dirty, a bonafide masterpiece. After Pimp C was incarcerated in the early 2000s — and his untimely passing in 2007 — Bun B built a rep as an elite MC, dropping numerous guest verses and acclaimed albums. But now years later, Bun is enjoying a new phase in his career, as a hip-hop elder and a chef.
Bun B is cultivating a burgeoning culinary career. After gaining thousands of views with southern cooking tutorials on social media, he launched Trill Burgers in 2021. Recently, Trill Burgers was named Good Morning America’s Ultimate Burger Spot as the best burger in the country by Good Morning America.
We spoke with Bun B about this new phase and who would win a cook-off between him and E-40.
As told to Rashad Grove
On why Pimp C was skeptical about being on “Big Pimpin.’”
Pimp was not as receptive to the idea of doing “Big Pimpin’” initially because it was so far away from what we did and what he felt we represented. He understood that this record was going to open us up to a large demographic of people who maybe had no idea who we were and he was concerned that the song was going to give people an unfair idea of who we were, and what we represented. He was very hesitant but I saw it as an opportunity to present ourselves to a huge group of people. He didn’t know if it’s worth doing it if you’re not gonna present yourself in a true way. I didn’t think the music took away from who we were. There’s no beat that Pimp could rap over that doesn’t come across as Pimp C. The song was so different in terms of music, the sample, and everything. It was a legitimate concern that he had and it exposed us to people who had to go back and do the research and listen to who we were.
On hosting the 2 Trill Show on Rock the Bells on Sirius XM.
So I was contacted by Rock the Bells, to contribute to a piece that they were doing around DJ Premier and I did that. Afterward, I just made an offhand reference and I said, “Hey, have you guys ever considered doing a show built around the Dirty South?” They replied back, “Well, we thought about it but who would be the right person to host? We definitely didn’t know enough about Southern culture to be able to differentiate who the right person would be.” They were like, “Do you want to do it?” I said, “Well, I mean until we can find the right person, I’ll do it. If you guys are willing to consider it so that somebody else doesn’t fuck it up.” They were like, cool and we gave it a try. Here we are now, a little more than a year later, and we’re still going strong.
With 2 Trill, I wanted to give support and show love to the pillars of our community that helped to build the foundation for southern hip-hop and hip-hop in general. That’s a big part of what we do. For those who are not fully immersed in southern hip hop culture, we want to teach them about who were some of the earliest participants. It definitely works. It’s an educational piece.
On working with David Banner.
Banner has been sending over production for this album that I’m working on. It’s a collaborative album that I’m doing with another artist that I don’t want to give it away yet. I think people are really going to be blown away by this collaboration. Banner has been the primary producer for that project and the person I’m working with said they had some beats from Banner. Some of them are beats that you would listen to and be like, “OK, yeah, that’s a David Banner beat.” And then there are others that had me like, “That is not what I thought a David Banner beat would be.” It’s really just a testament to the fact that Banner is a full-on producer and he can pretty much create anything that he sets his mind to. So it gave us a lot of great opportunities to stretch our boundaries and feel good about experimenting with music. Because sometimes you can just get stuck in the routine. He snapped on “Swangin.” When he played that for me, I was, “That’s really dope.” I can’t believe nobody thought of sampling that Mint Condition track before.
On curating the Trill Mealz Food Court at the Rock the Bells Festival.
I saw that they were doing a festival which looked amazing. I’ve been working with Rock the Bells outside of the show with different corporate partnerships that they have so when they contacted me very early in the process and I was like, “Well, what are y’all doing with food-wise? I would love to bring the Trill Burgers up there but what if we got some of the hip-hop artists that are currently in the food industry and have them all present their brands at this festival?” The team at Rock the Bells loved the idea. So after a lot of phone calls and a lot of emails we made it happen. There are still a couple of people we wanted that we couldn’t lock in because of time constraints and scheduling conflicts but I think we put together something super dope for the culture and products that actually taste really good. I think the way that the partnership exists between myself with Rock the Bells is not only something that you’ll see at the festival but it’s also something we’re looking to possibly take on the road at other concerts. So the Trill Mealz Food Court could very well be coming to a concert near you soon.
When you think about it, it’s the same demographic of people that we would perform in front of, so we’re reaching out to them with a different product. Whether it’s Mia X, E-40, Nas, Jadakiss and Styles, or Ghostface Killah, the way that they trusted us to present the highest quality of music, you can trust us to present you with the highest quality of food as well.
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On Questlove loving Trill Burgers.
Of all the Trill Burger reactions my favorite had to be Questlove. Everybody knows that Quest is a foodologist but he’s also not scared to tell you how he really feels. That’s one thing about the brother. He’s painfully honest with people and so I was able to bring them burgers recently after a performance they did at a festival in New York and his review was literally four words. It was, “Yes. Yes, Bun. Yes” [Laughs]. That’s all I really needed. I didn’t need some long dragged-out New York Times food review. A thumbs up and a yes from Quest made it official.
On who would win a cook-off between him and E-40.
I would probably say it would be a tie. We both come from the same soil. We both come from families in the South, you know? We both have that sensitivity, the skill set, and those reference points. The same people that taught him how to cook growing up basically come from the same area of people that taught me how to cook growing up. So I don’t expect it to be too much of a difference in terms of the execution. It will probably end up being whatever your preference is as far as what we cook. But as far as the quality and people enjoying the food, that’s gonna be neck and neck for sure. Or as 40 would say “For shizzle.”
Rashad Grove is a writer from NJ whose work has appeared on BET, Billboard, MTV News, Okayplayer, High Snobiety, Medium, Revolt TV, The Source Magazine, and others. You can follow him at @thegroveness for all of his greatness.