Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Bun B; The Trill OG

Under a recording session in the studio
of the Norwegian producer
and one of the founding fathers of
Fat Cap magazine, Tommy Tee,
we sat down for a real talk with Bun B,
the legendary Port Arthur rapper
and Underground Kingz partner
of the deceased Pimp C.

Fat Cap Magazine;
Last year you were asked by the
Museum of Fine Arts in Houston to contribute to
”Movies Houstonians Love 2006-2007”

along with three other legendary Houstonians;
Barbara Bush, Richard Linklater and Larry Dierker.
You picked The Award winning documentary
Style Wars by Tony Silver,
a documentary that was a huge influence
for the Hip Hop movement globally.
Many graffiti writers credit this
documentary as their biggest influence,
and maybe even the reason that they picked
up a spray can in the first place.
And there you are with conservative
Barbara Bush presenting a documentary that
celebrates urban decay and what
she probably sees as plain vandalism.
What were the reactions to your choice?

Bun B;
I think people were really taken a back by it,
you know,
it’s not what I think they thought it was going to be
– you know what I am saying?
When they heard it was going to be a Hip Hop documentary,
I think a lot of the more conservative people,
especially in a state like Texas
– a very, very conservative state
– they already have these preconceived
notions of what Hip Hop, and rap music,
and the people involved with the community is.
You know, we try to distort that image as much
as possible to give people a real inside
look into what it is we do.

Fat Cap Magazine;
What was the reaction from the audience?

Bun B;
Everybody loved it,
because of the fact that the crowd
that came to see the movie were not Hip Hop people at all.
As a matter of fact we were outnumbered
by people who normally patronize the museums,
and understanding that was part of
the reason why we showed Style Wars.
We didn’t want to knock people over the head with Hip Hop.
We wanted to make something that
could be easily absorbed and understood.

Fat Cap Magazine;
How come you chose Style Wars?

Bun B;
Well, I’ve got to tell you,
most of the people that patronize the
museums of arts and sciences,
and these different types of things,
all they know about Hip Hop is what they see today.
They don’t understand the original concept
of what the original people in
Hip Hop had conceived for the art form.
I think Style Wars was a film
that really showed Hip Hop,
as the way the people that started
Hip Hop would admit it to be.
You know, this was before people were
really making a lot of money off of
rap and Dj’ing, and the art scene and all that.
People like Basquiat were just starting
to get their exposure, and also people like
Keith Harring were on their way into the scene,
so with them graffiti went from a
street form to actually being sold in galleries.
Seeing young people in their actual environment,
seeing that there was good graffiti and bad graffiti,
with people who had cans and were just
fucking up people’s tags and stuff.
I didn’t want to give people a
too hard an introduction to Hip Hop,
I wanted something people could watch
that would be a good conversation piece to
somebody who had no idea about
Hip Hop, graffiti, DJ-ing,
breaking, MCing or any off it.

Fat Cap Magazine;
For many, especially graffiti artists,
this movie was a turning point for them.
What has the movie meant to you?

Bun B;
I was very young when I saw this movie Style Wars,
and it was really one of my first looks into the scene.
Me being from Texas and not having
actually traveled to New York,
this gave me a look in,
and an insider’s view as to exactly how the kids were:
you know, riding the trains into town
and painting on the trains in the city,
and how serious it was.
It wasn’t just kids playing around,
they took this to heart and they
didn’t mean it as a playful thing.
These people took it very seriously;
it was their life, behind these things.
It gave me more inside information,
instead of things just being writing on walls
– understanding that this was people’s individual tags
and what it represented.
Without seeing a movie like that
I wouldn’t have understood how to be able
to try to read peoples different tags and stuff like that.
And then with Kayslay, DJ Kayslay,
who is a good friend of mine,
in the movie he’s a graffiti artist,
he plays Dezzy Dez.
I was able to
– I knew somebody who was involved in the original movie,
and I thought he would be an excellent
person to bring for people who had questions
that I couldn’t probably answer about the movie.
I thought that he would be someone who could answer for them.

Fat Cap Magazine;
Done any graffiti yourself?

Bun B;
For me no, no I can’t draw.
I can’t draw, and I can’t DJ.
I MC, and I used to break (dance).
But I have a lot of respect for the
other two corners of Hip Hop,
because drawing is something…
I write ugly, but people that can draw
– I have a lot of admiration for them.

Fat Cap Magazine;
Was there ever a graffiti scene in Port Arthur?

Bun B;
Absolutely, there was allot of graffiti
done in the city simply because,
for one, we had what was called a sea wall,
which was a lot of cement that holds the water back up.
So whenever you had a lot of cement and a lot of open space,
people were going to tag it.
As the buildings started to decay,
people would come through and
do different pieces on the buildings.
And then we had a lot of trains that
would come through and stop,
and load up on oil and shit.
Once a train sits somewhere for too long,
somebody’s going to get it.
It was a good place for people to get started.

Fat Cap Magazine;
What about Houston?
I know there are a couple of cats that write in Houston,
but from what I've heard the scene is kind of dead...
Tell us a little about the scene
(if you know what's going on).
Do you see any Graff there these days?

Bun B;
Yeah, Houston, definitely.
Houston has a very strong graffiti scene.
Actually a local artist by the name of
Dez won a national competition.

^click image to enlarge^

Mountain Dew held a national competition
when they got all the different artists,
such as Haze, to redesign the Mountain Dew bottles.
And they did a national competition for artists
to submit their own version of the bottle.

^click image to enlarge^

The guy who does my t-shirts,
and does all my artwork
– his name is Dez
– he won the national competition,
so they designed his bottle as a limited edition bottle,

same as artists such as Haze and Chuck Anderson,
so he is in incredible company.
It came down, and he threw a party,
and they exhibited his work along with
the work from other people.
We have graffiti crews in Houston,
who are still bomb today,
that have been bombing for 20-22 years.

Fat Cap Magazine;
You invited DJ Kayslay to Houston.
In Style Wars he became famous to the
graffiti world as Dez TFA.
Have you ever talked about graffiti with Kayslay?
Has he ever done any graffiti Houston that you´re aware off?

Bun B;
He hasn’t done any pieces in Houston,
but he has a really big piece in Harlem (hall of fame)
that he did a couple of years ago.
That was the last piece,
I think, that ‘Slay did, about three years ago.
It might even be four years ago.

^click images to enlarge^

Fat Cap Magazine;
DJ Kayslay, mostly known for writing Dez,
also wrote Spade from time to time.
Bushwick Bill also wrote Spade
when he lived in Brooklyn as a kid.
Did you know this?
Do you know if Bushwick was seriously into
graffiti and wrote on the trains back in the day?

Bun B;
No, I didn’t know that.
I would believe it,
and definitely not be surprised if
Bushwick Bill was into
graffiti before he became an MC.
Bushwick Bill is an extremely learned person,
and a lot of people don’t often give him
redit for his knowledge of the world,
but also of Hip Hop and history.
He is a person that’s always been around
supporting people as much as he could.

Fat Cap Magazine;
Have you ever heard Kayslay mention
this or if Kayslay and Bushwick
have ever commented/talked about this?

Bun B;
I am not sure if they discussed the fact,
or that they even knew that they were around each other,
in the same borough around that time.
He calls himself Bushwick Bill,
because he wasn’t that far away.
He left the city when he was sixteen or seventeen,
so it’s been awhile,
since Bushwick Bill is close to his forties now.
‘Cause I’m 35, so he’s got to be close to forty.

Fat Cap Magazine;
On your Underground Kings DVD,
you say that you do country rap tunes, not Hip Hop.
What is country rap, and what’s the difference?

Bun B;
You know, the rapping and the MC’ing
is just one part of Hip Hop
– it’s not inducible to the whole Hip Hop lifestyle.
If you are living the Hip Hop lifestyle,
then you are – even an MC, a DJ, or a breaker.
If you are Hip Hop you can be an MC,
but just because you are an MC doesn’t make you Hip Hop.
It’s important that people understand the difference.
Not that we don’t have
love and respect for the art form,
but its just not what we do,
and when people traditionally
think of what Hip Hop music sounds like,
it’s not really what we do.
It was important for us at the time
to carve out an identity of who we were,
and where we are from, without disrespecting
any other thing that anybody else was doing.

Fat Cap Magazine;
The Southern Hip Hop scene and (music) style
has been under attack by Hip Hop purists
in the last couple of years.

What's the biggest difference from
Southern Hip Hop and East Coast/New York Hip Hop?

Bun B;
It is more of a soulful sound.
We do a lot more of a
… blues influenced [sound],
and a lot of live instrumentation in the records.
Like, out of the six UGK albums,
on four of them all of the music was played live,
as opposed to being just sampled music from records.
Because we grew up listening to
live records and soulful music,
it’s a way that we can pay respect
to the music we grew up listening to.

Fat Cap Magazine;
I also heard that you use gospel music?

Bun B;
Yeah, gospel music, early R’n’B, and blues music
is all almost the same type of music.
It’s all born out of the
same environment: the Deep South.
All the same music came from the same people.
That’s why you see people in the R’n’B world
go back and forth from gospel,
and sometimes R’n’B goes to blues.
You have people like
Al Jarreau, Al Green, and people like that.

Fat Cap Magazine;
The Internet has been a blessing to
graffiti and team-up writers globally.
They can share their works in
minutes after they painted them,
get inspirations from artist all over the world,
and even team up in crews without even meeting.
However, this is not the case for the music industry.
Do you have any opinions on how the
internet can be a more positive thing for the music industry?

Bun B;
Well, I think the difference is that
graffiti is an art form where
most of the people involved
still do it purely for the love,
because probably 99% of graffiti artists don’t get paid.
So they are still in a position were
a lot of people are doing it just for the love.
In the music industry it always ends up being:
“what record label is going to put it out,
who’s going to get this,
and how is it going to be split,
and how it’s going to be divided”
– not “how we are going to share the art,”
whereas graffiti artist are more like:
“how can we give the most art to people for free,”
that type of thing.
I also notice that when I watch
artists all over the world,
they are always giving.
And I think that’s a beautiful thing,
that’s really what it was meant to be.
Unfortunately, money kinda messed up rap,
but graffiti is still keeping it real.

Fat Cap Magazine;
I’ve read that you don’t
see yourself as a solo artist,
and that the only reason you released
Trill was because Pimp C was in jail.
Will you go solo from now on,
or will you go serious with Mddl Fngz,
or team up with other rappers?

Bun B;
UGK will never be me and another artist.
It’s always going to be just me and Pimp C.
There is going to be one more album that
we were working on out after that’s ready.
We are trying to make sure that we
put it together the right way,
and that we do it with respect and honor to him and the legacy.
I am still going to be doing solo albums,
but everything is still in the name of UGK
– still UGK for life.
To me its still feels like UGK albums.
Mddl Fngz is still going to be a group
that I will be recording music with,
and I will do Bun B albums,
but it’s still UGK for life.
UGK is more than just a group,
or a name, it’s a movement.
It’s a way of life, the way you carry yourself
and the way you represent yourself,
where you are from, and the people that you roll with.
It’s more the ideology of UGK than
the memories that I want to make sure carries on.
I’ve got to make sure that Pimp C and I,
and that our ideals, remain in the music.

Fat Cap Magazine;
Rumor has it you’re going to be the new
lead rapper for the new Geto Boys.
Is it true or false that J.Prince would like to
form a new (Geto Boys) group with you, Z-Ro and Scarface?

Bun B;
No, that’s not true.
No, Geto Boys and Scarface will always be Willie D.
Except for Big Mike.
Even Big Mike will tell you that
the Geto Boys and Scarface belong to them.

Fat Cap Magazine;
Although, you would be perfect!

Bun B;
Thanks a lot, my man!
You know what you’re talking about.

Interview originally featured in
Fat Cap magazine #17

Related links;
Bun B; The Trill OG (Fat Cap magazine interview)
Free download Bun B; No Mixtape (street album)
DJ KaySlay AKA Dezzy Dez picks his: Top 5 dead or alive
Dezzy Dez TFA – Interview From The 80’s
Style Wars Outtakes
Bun B on MySpace
UGK official site
B is for... (Bun B of UGK)
Purchase Bun B´s music on Amazon
The Source Crowns Bun B’s “Trill OG” a Hip Hop Classic
Bun B accepting his Source 5 MIC award (Video)

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