Bernard “Bun B” Freeman is talking about how his passion for rapping has changed since the passing of his longtime UGK partner and friend, the legendary Chad “Pimp C” Butler. In an interview with HipHopDX, the Underground Kingz’s icon shared how he grieved and healed through that unfortunate time in his life.
“I haven’t really enjoyed making music since Pimp passed away,” he told the platform. “And so now that I get to make music with friends and I’m not under any contractual obligation, I make music because I want to not because I have to, so it’s a different experience for me. For me, it just has to be fun or I’m not going to do it. I just don’t want to do it.”
The Texas duo started in 1987 and established themselves as an unmoveable force taking over the southern Hip-Hop scene in the aughts. Their self-titled album scored the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200 chart and went on to be their first and only project to reach a height of that caliber. UGK’s sixth and final posthumous album UGK 4 Life, arrived in 2009 with verses from the late Pimp C, but Bun B made it clear that recording music just wasn’t the same without his right-hand man.
Although Bun B wrote and recorded the duo’s 2005 single, “The Story,” after Pimp C’s arrest on a probation violation, the 49-year-old rapper expressed how the song chronologically listed UGK’s journey, but in hindsight, served as a therapeutic mirror to reflect on how far they had come, and what they overcame.
“The beautiful thing about music from a cathartic standpoint, is you can use it as an outlet to say what you want to say and express how you feel, but you don’t have to release it commercially,” he said to DX. “But it could be something that you do it. Like when I did ‘The Story,’ I recorded it one time and all the way through. Then for months, I couldn’t listen to it because it was so emotional and it was a mark in a specific time in my life where I was very low.”
He added, “And so to listen to it was a reminder of how low I was, for me, initially. But now I listen to it and I realize, ‘Wow, look how low you are and look where you are now.’ So it just reminds me no matter how bad you think you feel and how low you think you are, remember how low you were here.”
Bun B mentioned that although he comes “from a community of people where grieving publicly was frowned upon,” he believes that his public grief may have “allowed other people to do the same.” And as social media makes it even harder to show lows and struggles, the Houston native thinks of the many different platforms as “superficial,” camouflaging everyone’s “perfect” lives.
“Initially, when he passed away, I didn’t want to do day-one songs that would resonate in that way,” he said. “But I come from a community of people where grieving publicly was frowned upon. And so, so many people hold in so much pain. And what happens is that pain comes out at the worst time against the best people, and it just puts people in a terrible place.”
Today, Bun B stays inspired. He recently dropped a joint project with longtime collaborator music producer Cory Mo titled, Mo Trill. He has also tapped into his entrepreneurial spirit with food venture Trill Burgers, which will be available at Rolling Loud Miami this weekend (July 22).
The rapper and avid foodie has also partnered with the Rock The Bells Festival to headline and curate the first-ever Hip-Hop-themed food court. He’ll be bringing the Trill Mealz Food Court Experience to this year’s festival at Forest Hills Stadium, in Queens, New York, on Saturday, August 6, 2022.