“You know how The Pimp be, that nigga gon’ speak his mind/ If he could speak down from heaven, he’d tell me stay on my grind…”
Similar to Tupac Shakur before him, the legacy of Chad Butler remains a beautiful, yet painful memory shadowing over Hip-Hop. While I am able to clearly differentiate music from reality, any pure lover of the genre can tell you his passing is an event many still do not want to come to terms with. I, along with millions of other UGK fans, never knew the man personally. To this day I’ll be honest with anyone when I say I’m still a bigger Bun B fan, but that defeats the purpose of this piece. What it is about is paying homage to a man whose sometimes perceived ignorance paled in comparison to his prowess in a recording booth.
You see, Pimp C passed on December 4, 2007. This day serves as bittersweet importance to me because it is my fraternity’s founding date as well. And, so not to offend my political connects, Jay-Z’s birthday too. For basically the entire first semester during my senior year at Hampton, “International Players Anthem” found itself as a theme song the entire campus could literally rap in unison. For good reason, too. It was one of those feel good records which wasn’t subjected to boundaries or regions. Ironically, the last song which was played that day during 12-2 (basically a big ass party in the student center) was the aforementioned UGK and Outkast cut. Walking back to the apartments across the street, I received a text message I still remember to this day.
“Yo, this nigga Pimp C died bruh. Found him dead in a hotel room.”
It was one of those surreal moments, to say the least. I was 10 and 11 when Pac and Biggie died and even then I was fans of their music, but admittedly did not truly understand the significance of their deaths until later. With Pimp C, I knew exactly what this was and what it meant to the Hip-Hop community. We lost a voice who had only had only really begun to regain his rap-legs after an incarceration stint. If you didn’t follow UGK’s early career, you at least knew who he was from the now legendary ‘Free Pimp C‘ campaign. You knew he was a big deal and you knew he was respected for a reason. You knew his music was the soundtrack of those whose voice did not and would not carry as far as his. But just like that, you also knew he was gone.
More so than anything else about Chad, his (and Bun’s) willingness to mentor and guide younger acts attempting to follow his legendary blueprint commanded respect. All too often in Hip-Hop, a generational gap seemingly prohibits the stars of tomorrow from rubbing elbows with their predecessors. Excluding his brief spat with Jeezy, he constantly expressed unity and lead by example by co-signing rhymers like Lil’ Wayne, Rick Ross, T.I., Gucci Mane and most notably Webbie and Boosie, while influencing countless others.
Lost in the roller coaster which was his life, many fail to remember Pimp C was only 33 at the time of his death. In a genre which has seen some of it’s brightest stars fall due to assassins’ bullets and incurable diseases, 33 may be considered ancient in some circles. Regardless of who analyzes the situation, Hip-Hop will likely never replace the high pitched, stern, southern drawl the light skinned portion of UGK embodied. As with anyone who I’ve lost in my life, personally and musically, I’ll celebrate their life more than their death. Timeless music and legendary quotes. That’s what I choose to remember Chad Butler by. However, one request must be fulfilled. Where ever you happen to be reading this, stop what you’re doing and follow The Pimp’s one commandment:
“Smoke somethin’, bitch.”