If you ask any celebrity, they’d probably tell you that media day is nothing short of a royal pain. Dozens of interviewers calling to ask questions about an upcoming project, droning off repetitive inquiries. Bun B, one of the most down to earth rappers you’ll ever come across, seems unfazed even though he is answering questions about the death of his best friend.
When he sat down and talked to The Crew’s David D., Bun B was the same cool guy one would expect as he discussed promoting the new UGK album without Pimp C at his side, dropping guest verses and what’s the perfect song to honor the Underground Kingz.
TSS: Hey Bun B, what’s up man? How’s it going?
Bun B: I’m good, man.
TSS: Before I get to this UGK album you guys have coming out, I’ve wanted to ask you this for years if I ever had the pleasure of talking to you. Every time you’re on someone else’s track and you have a 16, you kill it. So how do you prepare for that?
Bun B: I don’t really, to be honest. I’m a weird studio creature. I just go to the studio, tell them to cut on a beat and I write. And then I go in. The process is usually complete in about 20-30 minutes. I don’t make it a long, dragged out type of situation. It’s really just a matter of organizing thoughts. And because of the fact I’ve been doing this so long continuously, it’s not a problem to organize thoughts at all. As far as information, I have more information than I have an outlet to release. Every time I do a song, I’m still 30-40 verses behind as far as information I want to get out. I know my way around a record. And I know exactly how to hit the points that maybe other people in the song haven’t hit. If they send me a beat and there aren’t any vocals on it, then I just try to hit points that I know people are going to reach for.
TSS: Is that the same way you prepare for your own albums too?
Bun B: No, it’s totally different because in terms of UGK albums, a lot of that stuff originated from ideas that Pimp and I might have. And I don’t have to come in until it’s fully visualized. Until the beat is all laid out and everything, then I let my verses drop. For a solo album, I have more control of the process. My solo album is just about getting the right music. Any verse you’ve ever heard Bun B say was probably written in about 15 minutes. That’s not just me talking. You can ask anyone. That’s why I’m on so many records, because of the turnaround.
People send me the record on Thursday and the it’s gotta be done by Friday, because they know I’m gonna get it, go in, do what I gotta do send it in go home and go to sleep. I’m not a studio rat that likes to sit in the studio for six hours, invite every fucking body I know, buy pizza, smoke weed, drink, hang out and then try to find a fucking club and don’t even go to the club because you’re too high and drunk from the studio. I don’t make a day out of it. I’m an old head. I’m 35 years old, I got a wife and kids. I got a granddaughter now. If I’m in the studio by 2, I’m trying to be out by 7. I can still get five or so songs done.
TSS: So you must have a huge catalog sitting around, right?
Bun B: Actually, I don’t. Everything I record is usually for something. As of right now I have no songs stowed away. A lot of people assume that because I’m always on everything. People literally call me- I have my beats and do like five features. Then I go to the studio and knock out all five and go home.
TSS: That way you were on everybody’s song was kind of like ahead of its time because now everybody — Lil’ Wayne or anybody that’s got an album coming out — they’re always doing a lot of guest spots. Was that a conscious effort for marketing or were you just trying to get on records?
Bun B: It’s a little bit of both. It’s definitely a way of making yourself available to several different markets at one time. Also, it gives you the chance as an artist to bounce yourself around the game with like minded talents to see where you stand. It’s important for artists to know where they stand. And for me, being an older artists where you have some younger fans who are like 17-18 years old who may not know my entire legacy or my full repertoire. It’s important for me to stand next to the people they look up to today and let them see that I’m as good or better than anything they’re listening to right now.
TSS: As far as the marketing goes, now, how has it been promoting this album by yourself?
Bun B: Weird. I try to think of some deep way. It’s just weird. It’s different. It’s not necessarily difficult because I’m doing interviews and phonies and shit like that. But it’s very weird to constantly talk about him being dead. I’m gonna be honest. Nobody says “dead.” I have to say it every now and then because nobody says “Pimp C is dead.” They say “he’s passed” or “now that he’s gone.” Nobody ever says “dead.” Sometimes I have to say that word for the reality to set in. That’s just for me personally, so I can get it out.
TSS: Has it at all been therapeutic at least?
Bun B: It depends on who I’m talking to. See, with you, this is more like we’re having a conversation but if I do an interview with a person like Jon Caramanica, who I’ve known for seven years or Charlie from Mississippi who I’ve known for 12-13 years.. Then it becomes a little bit of a more personal situation. Same thing goes for radio DJs that Pimp and I have gone in and done promo for every album. It depends on the individual situation because some people know us better than others.
TSS: About the actual album, where the vocals laid down together or did you come back later and lay down the verses?
Bun B: Some of the songs were fully completed, a couple only halfway completed and some were just the basic structure.
TSS: What changed from the songs you had done before with him? Did you come back with a different approach?
Bun B: Naw, not at all. It was just a matter of filling in blanks. None of these songs had to be built from the ground up. Every song had some sort of music and structure and concept and theme laid to it already. There were no random verses. There’s no such thing as a random verse. Nobody goes to the studio and raps to a metronome. When you’re in the studio rapping. You’re rapping to some sort of beat. Even if you don’t put a hook or a chorus on it, there’s a theme laid in with the context and the words you’re speaking. It’s not that hard to complete that sort of thing. And Pimp C was a lot more forward thinking than people give him credit for. There was a lot to work with even when it seemed like there wasn’t a lot to work with. There was a lot hidden in each song that we didn’t even find until later on in the process, inside the songs if that makes any sense.
TSS: In what way?
Bun B: Well one song we had the sample for, we realized the sample wasn’t gonna clear. We kept trying to figure out how to remake the track or how to replay the sample to keep with the same feel and as we started going through different files, we found like eight tracks at the bottom of the file. And we pulled them up, and it was a reproduction of the song Pimp had already done, already on the song. So some of the problems we ran into that could have only been solved by chance, actually were songs by chance.
TSS: Now you mention his forward thinking, I remember a radio interview you did shortly after he passed, and you said that there were things he’d see that you wouldn’t quite see at the time until it was on the track. How much of this album were you like “what would Pimp think about this” or how he’d do the song?
Bun B: That was for the most part on every song but at the end of the day we had to make a decision to not get caught up in that and thinking it because we all already knew. It was a matter of not trying to think or figure it out. It wasn’t Chinese Arithmetic. We knew it like the back of our hands. We just had to get in the right frame of mind to have a clear train of thought.
The hardest thing involved with this process was the emotional thing because everyone involved with it loved him like a brother. The people that featured, the producers, the engineers—everyone involved with this album had a lot of love for him. When you’re emotional about situations, you gotta be careful not to make the wrong choices based on emotional feelings you have that day.