Bun B, one-half of Southern pioneers UGK, and hip-hop legend, speaks with Peter Marrack of RESPECT. Read what Bun has to say on comparisons to Drake, his stance on the Southern drink Lean and his life as Head Spokesperson for the Red Bull EmSee Competition, which currently has him placed in Seattle. Bun’s no louse when it comes to spitting the hard facts, but heck, we already knew that from his music.
How’s it going in Seattle so far?
So far so good, man.
What do they have you doing?
I’ve been interviewing some of the people doing their thing in Seattle, some local guys, up and coming people. Talked to Jake One.
You’re the host of the Red Bull EmSee event. What’s that entail?
Let people know where we are. Give a little background on the city, the hip-hop scene, which these guys are coming out of, show a little bit of where it started in that city, who are some of the people who started it, some of the originators of the region. We’ve talked to some of the up-and-coming talent, some of the guys doing their thing on the independent scene. And at the show, basically to explain the rules and keep the show together, keep the show going.
Do you have any history in Seattle?
No, not particularly. We’re just in Seattle for this particular stop. But I’ve been here in the past, done a couple of good shows, definitely got a lot of love for the city. Love the city, love the people.
The official creator of the event is Red Bull. Have they endorsed much hip-hop in the past?
Red Bull has been very supportive of hip-hop over the last couple years. Red Bull throws what they call like a Beat Battle, where they have different hip-hop producers come out and play their beats, and have the crowd pick the winner. Basically the same format as the EmSee Competition but with producers. Whoever wins the production battle, this year it was 14KT from Michigan, they give you a list of emcees you can work with and you pick the one you want, and they fly you all out to Los Angeles to the studio to create an original song together.
And it’s the reverse for the EmSee Competition, correct? You can work with the producer of your choice.
Any producer at all?
They have a list of people they work with, like they do a lot of stuff with 9th Wonder. But I mean Red Bull is a respectable company, and they’re doing it big in Hip Hop right now.
I heard the new Pimp C album. I guess it’s a collection of his older work?
It’s not necessarily a collection of older work. There’s a common misconception that I’m the guy with the Pimp C music, and the verses, putting that stuff together, but I don’t even control any of that stuff.
In Toronto, where I’m from, people seem to love UGK. I’ve always thought your music influenced some of our artists, like Drake and now The Weeknd.
Yeah, I’m familiar with it. The Weeknd just had his big show this weekend, didn’t he?
Yep. Do you agree with that comparison though, between you and Drake?
Umm, wow, that’s a touchy subject.
I didn’t mean any disrespect by it.
Oh no, not at all. I just don’t want to say the wrong thing. I can see how people would draw that conclusion. But there’s a new generation of artists in general who communicate music in a different way. I think Big Sean has a song you could fit into that same mellow vibe, also Wiz pitching that same kind of vibe. It’s a real laid-back mellow kind of vibe, because there’s a lot of up tempo, crunk, high-energy beats out there. I think this is just a different take on it. Possibly there may be Canadian sensibilities shared between two artists, but I think even Drake and The Weeknd have their own lanes. And they’re both great talents. I think it’s just a great look for Canada right now.
Do you have any records on Take Care?
Not yet, but it could possibly change by the time Take Care comes out.
I caught the verse you have on the Cool Kids album. What else have you been working on?
Right now I’m working with my new off-set label @ Trill, that I created with my homie Big Capo. We’ve got a new artist, Money Moe. We just finished up his first mixtape, Tunnel Vision. It’s going to be coming. We’ve got a single with him and Busta Rhymes. It’s crazy. There’s a lot of good music coming up. I’m going to be starting up my next album pretty soon. Also working with my son’s group, now that my son is a rapper. His name is Young B. He has a group, YNC, Youngest N Charge. I’ve really just been giving him, over the past couple years, time to grow into who they were going to be. I didn’t want to give them too much influence. I give them advice, but I didn’t want to be like standing over them in the studio. I wanted them to grow naturally and organically in the game, and they’re doing a great job. I’m going to be doing a lot more stuff with them now. I feel they’re really ready to move forward in the game and progress.
How old are they?
They’re between the 23-25 year old range. There’s three guys in the group. They got a couple of good songs out.
Back to the Toronto artists for a second. They have a lot of songs where they talk about promethazine-codeine. Is this something you’d rather not be associated with?
No one underage should be doing anything illegal anyway. But grown people make decisions to do what they want to do, and I can’t say anything against that. I wasn’t the first person to do a song about it. I probably had one of the more popular songs though. It’s nothing that just started with this generation. People of my father’s generation, and his father’s generation, all kind of did the same thing. As long as that’s not the only thing they’re talking about. You can’t just sit around, and all you do is smoke weed and sip syrup and all of that. What else are you doing with your life?
I mean, I’ve made a song about that, but I’ve also had other things I’ve talked about, records that I hoped had more content, that would last longer with the people than records we made about doing drugs and stuff.
How will the new album compare to previous Bun B records?
Really just trying to reinforce the brand. I don’t want to start branching off and doing new stuff. I am going to be working with a couple of people I haven’t worked with before, but other than that, still keeping that core sound that UGK is known for, stay as close to my movement as possible, keeping in mind we don’t have Pimp C here to produce the music. But definitely making music that pays respect to the legacy of UGK.
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