Aside from being half of the legendary duo UGK and an icon in the South, Bun B is one of the few people in hip-hop who doesn’t scramble to say something retarded when he has the spotlight. Rather, Bun is one of the most knowledgeable and insightful people in the business. I talked to Bun B almost three weeks ago for our Pimp C Beat Drop and he was cool enough to field some extra questions.
ML: How would you describe the final UGK project?
Bun: It’s still not in the position to be describable, I think. We have a lot of music and a lot of vocals. Right now, we’re in a position with enough music to merit a release, but it’s all about making sure that it’s the right music and that it’s presented the right way and if we do decide to let people be a part of this project, that it’s people that would make sense to be part of a UGK project were Pimp C still alive. I’m not gonna go get Norah Jones or some shit. No disrespect to Norah Jones. I’m not gon’ bring people into the equation that wouldn’t have been into the equation. You know.
ML: Has the attitude toward the South changed since “[Quit] Hatin’ the South” off Underground Kingz?
Bun: That’s a very good question. Honestly, I think you would have to ask the haters. I couldn’t answer for a hater, I have no idea how long a hater hates for. Mostly, the people that hate on the South, they hatin’ on New York rap for different reasons, they’re hatin’ on West Coast rap. They just have to hate on something. I don’t even take it personally, because the people who hated on me down south for being popular, even if they’re from the East Coast, they hated on East Coast people for being popular.
ML: What are some of your favorite 90s non-UGK Southern rap albums?
Bun: Definitely On the Outside Looking In, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, Soul Food, but even like the early Dayton Boys stuff and, well this is probably going back to the eighties too, but Gucci Crew and the first Poison Clan album and stuff like that. A lot of stuff like that was real influential on me as well. When I was making my own music I was still a fan. Then of course R.I.P to MC Breed. Definitely his first album. Not to mention the “Tight” album [The New Breed] as well and especially for me as a lyricist with the “Tight” album collaboration between him and D.O.C.
ML: What would you say is your best verse?
Bun: I don’t think I’ve written my best verse yet. If you asked a Bun B fan, I would imagine ninety-nine percent of them would say “Murder” simply because of, I guess, the state of Southern rap in general. We were really getting pigeonholed into a certain position and the only person that was really getting any real credit for lyricism from the South was really Andre 3000 and Scarface. And I’m like, ‘You know what? I’ve been down here wrecking too.’ And in the South everybody knows and they give me my card, but I was like ‘I need a song where I can just go in and wreck where it’s unequivocally a lyricist on the mic and it’s not just a Southern or West Coast or Eastern, but this dude is a lyricist and I don’t know where he’s from or who he is, but he’s a lyricist. He can go.’ And “Murder” was the one song that finally opened up the doors to that. Then after that, I went in on a lot of other songs. Some people may say “Three Sixteens,” some people will even say my verse on “Big Pimpin’,” but I think the one that really caught everyone’s eye like ‘Whoa, this dude got serious flow’ will probably be “Murder.”
ML: A lot of people that wouldn’t have heard of you otherwise have heard of you because of all this work you’ve done with smaller acts like Wale and Termanology and Kidz in the Hall. You reached out to all of these guys right?
Bun: Right. A lot of these guys I knew before and these were people that I called personally. And the whole reason being is that even though he’s from Boston, Termanology is really me fifteen, sixteen years ago — well not Boston really, Lawrence actually, to be exact. To be more on point about it, Lawrence is no bigger a town than where I’m from. The neighborhood that Wale’s from in Maryland is no bigger than the neighborhood that I’m from. And I know what it’s like coming from that kind of an environment trying to make your way in this world. Not just in your immediate vicinity, but in the world. And even a person like a Killer Mike from Atlanta, from Adamsville or a young Lansky from California. It’s about really just trying to give these cats as much inspiration personally and professionally as I can and direction personally and professionally, because it’s a thing where it wasn’t available for me and I know how hard this game can be and how frustrating, and I know how it’s gotten me down to the point where I probably wanted to quit. And I just wanted to make sure people knew that they had somebody that they could call that didn’t want nothing from ‘em other than to seem them do good.
ML: Did you know Termanology and Wale personally or did you just hear about them?
Bun: Nah, I just heard music.
ML: Where do you hear about them? Are you on the blogs or-
Bun: Yeah, I’m on the Net, I still cop mixtapes, check my spot from the hood, Nah Right or anybody in the New Music Cartel or XXL or Vibe or Fader or one of these will put something up and I’ll peep it. It’s just about understanding what music is and not to mention where it’s going. I know what music was because I was there when a lot of it was being created. I make a point to know today what exactly music is and where it’s going tomorrow. So I’m just paying attention and making sure some of these kids who are in the perfect position to really take advantage of the game and life in general don’t make any missteps, because it benefits us all for a Wale or a Kidz in the Hall or Termanology to win in this game. It benefits everybody because for one, they’re real dudes, two, they’re talent, and three, it’s not a gimmick, they’re really standing on some real shit and the game needs more representation like that.
ML: Tell me about working with DJ Premier. That’s amazing.
Bun: Oh absolutely. He’s somebody that I’ve known for years, I consider a good friend. A good friend to the point where — most people, if they have DJ Premier’s number in their phone, would be burning him up for music, but I really valued him as a friend, his opinion, the interaction that we have, the way that we see the game, just like a Kay Slay or somebody. Kay Slay is a friend of mine, but he’s never hosted a mixtape for me, because when you meet real people in this industry on a very real level, you don’t want to fuck it up with business. So with the Termanology situation, it was just something where ‘I wanna rock with this dude, this dude is hard lyrically’ and also it gives me a chance to see where I stand today amongst the best of the best, which I think maybe some of the people from my generation are probably a little leery to do. You have to be very careful if you’re a Jordan to put yourself with the rock in front of an AI and allow yourself an opportunity to be shook. But that’s cool, you can’t win every game but you can still leave with the NBA title.