Maybe if Bun B was my prof in college, I would’ve paid more attention. He’s a gripping writer and speaker who’s fearless in expressing his thoughts and opinions. And in a year like 2020, it was necessary to have someone as level-headed and outspoken as Bun B to call a spade a spade.
A man of the people, the second uprising of the Black Lives Matter movement and the devastating effects of COVID-19, Bun B has kept his head above water and helped others do the same, specifically within Houston. He’s a global ambassador for the city but these days, he seems fit to run for office, whether it’s for City Council or the Mayor of Houston. And that might be the case. After an illustrious career that includes two Grammy nominations, a solo albums, and an everlasting impact on the rap game, it might not be that far fetched to see Bun step into the political sphere.
“It's something that, at this point, I have to consider because there's so many people that are talking to me about it,” he told HNHH. “Our Mayor Sylvester Turner is a great man. I think he's done great things in the city. This is his last term, though. So if there isn't someone that he's going to recommend to replace him, and throw his support behind, if there's going to be someone that we don't feel has the city's best interest, then it's something I got to have to consider.” Unfortunately, if that were to happen, Bun would be hanging up the microphone for good which he doesn't necessarily see himself doing anytime soon.
For day two of HNHH’s 12 Days Of Christmas interview series, Bun B blessed us with an in-depth conversation exploring everything from the complexities of the COVID-19 pandemic, the election and Lil Wayne’s endorsement of Trump to tutoring Pimp C outside of a dope house and his relationship with Megan Thee Stallion.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. Please note, this interview was conducted during a two-day period.
DAY ONE OF HNHH INTERVIEW WITH BUN B
What's fulfilled Bun B during the pandemic?
Really, just, you know, self-reflection like I spent the majority of my career traveling like being on the road and so I was very seldom home. My wife is an amazing home caretaker and she worked very hard to give us a house that’s extremely comfortable. The problem is I was almost never home to enjoy it. So, it’s been amazing to just really be here with moments of self-reflection and just relaxing, finding peace. We always cook. We spend a lot of shared time cooking here. We just got a new grill from Traeger and so that’s gonna be basically what we’re gonna do from here on out. Just try to find different things that we can put on the grill.
But, I think for the most part music, right? Like music has been a big part of how everybody’s been dealing with this. Thank God for people like D-Nice, 9th Wonder, Statik Selektah. Like, the DJ’s who have been working overtime to entertain the people and share their love of music with us. It’s made for some really fun nights. Even I took up DJing for a while with Club Trill. But, music for the most part has been a medium that many of us have been using to fill time, put ourselves at ease and just kinda relax and reflect on everything.
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What has stood out musically this year?
For me, it’s been a couple of things. I can’t believe it took me this long, but I found Khruangbin this year. And just really going through their catalog and all their live performances and kinda following their trek has been amazing. They’re an amazing band. A three piece band for those of you that don’t know, Laura, Mark, and Beans from Beans and Cornbread. I mean, it’s really hard for me to classify the music, but it’s really good. It’s really soothing. It’s peaceful. It’s perfect background music. It doesn’t really get in the way or interfere with anything so that’s been a big addition to me as far as my music playlist and what not.
It’s been fun watching Griselda take off over the last year and watch them find their own individual spaces as well as the group aesthetic. It’s been amazing to really watch what they’ve been able to accomplish this year in music.
"I am really tuned in with G-Herbo. I love the way he approaches it. He is everything that young artists are but he’s a little different though. He’s a little bit different in his approach and I like that. I like that a lot."
G-Herbo, right? I am really tuned in with G-Herbo. I love the way he approaches it. He is everything that young artists are but he’s a little different though. He’s a little bit different in his approach and I like that. I like that a lot.
My guilty pleasure this year has been -- the one song that I find myself kinda just going to every now and then for no reason has been King Chip “Interior Crocodile Alligator” which is super short. Not even a really long song, but I love it. I really love the song. But it’s been a really good year for music for me. I’ve been enjoying the output by a lot of people obviously Lil Baby had a great year in spite of things. DaBaby had a good year in spite of his public trauma. Right now, obviously at my house, because we’re both Megan Thee Stallion fans, that’s kinda where we are right now with Good News. You know, I just try to keep my ear to the street with a lot of the different stuff that’s going right now.
How do you feel about the next generation of Houston rap?
Yeah I know it has been a great year for Houston. Obviously, Travis is always on the forefront of stuff. Don Toliver had some really good momentum going with him, coming off the Jack Boys album into his own solo album. I really hate that with COVID, he didn’t get to go on the road ‘cause he was going to be the opening act for The Weeknd this year which would’ve been an amazing opportunity for him as an artist to really travel the world and be put on that kind of stage. ‘Cause, obviously, The Weeknd is one of the biggest artists in the world. So, opening up for an act like that can put you right in front of the people that you need to be in front of in order to grow your fan base and grow your movement.
Favorite song off of Good News?
But I think for me, “Shots Fired” probably is the song because diss tracks are prevalent in hip-hop, right? Diss tracks -- you know, dudes dissing dudes and girls dissing girls. I can't remember many instances outside of “Roxanne's Revenge” where the girl is dissing dudes on a rap record. Like you don’t really see that that often nowadays. But yeah, I mean, that was a hell of a way to start an album off. I'll be honest, it's a hell of a way to start the album.
"[Megan] wears the risky outfits, and all of that kind of stuff. I get it. But outside of all of that, you can't really question Megan's lyrical ability. You know, so I think she did a good job. She does a good job in songwriting, overall. She has her flow. She's locked in with her flow, but she also has her subject matter. And she's locked in with that. And she's found a way to make both of them work; to be sexy and lyrical at the same time. It's amazing."
How do you think she did at flipping the "Who Shot Ya?" sample?
I think it's amazing, first of all, that a new young female artist has the frame of reference to go back and reach on through hip hop to grab these monumental moments. Like, “Boyz N The Hood” is a big moment in hip hop, right? That's where we really start to understand exactly what the streets of LA are all about, if you don't go to LA or you don't have family or friends in LA. So, it gives you a very good idea of what's happening on the West Coast. And then obviously, “Who Shot Ya” is one of the pivotal moments in hip hop history from one of our top three best lyricists ever. It's very ambitious to make a song like that to kind of go with that. But I feel like she did good enough, right? I feel like the level of expectation for her on that record is kind of on par for the course. Certain artists would be held to a higher regard, if they touch those records. But I think for what she was trying to do, she really was trying to, not necessarily replicate the record, but give you an idea of where she's going with the content. So, as soon as you hear that song, you already know what we're about to do. And the title is there itself. But I think she did a good job. I think, you know, Megan's a rapper. Like, Megan does all the dancing. She wears the risky outfits, and all of that kind of stuff. I get it. But outside of all of that, you can't really question Megan's lyrical ability. You know, so I think she did a good job. She does a good job in songwriting, overall. She has her flow. She's locked in with her flow, but she also has her subject matter. And she's locked in with that. And she's found a way to make both of them work; to be sexy and lyrical at the same time. It's amazing.
Texas was hit hard with COVID. What has been your role in the city to raise awareness of the disease and protect people?
I’ve just been trying to lead by example. You don't want to get out there and tell people to protect themselves from the virus and be smart about how they move and then people see you in compromised positions. So, you got to really practice what you preach in these moments. But I try to also keep the base of people that I have influence with updates about the numbers, about the severity, positivity rates, mortality rates, all that kind of stuff, in real-time.
And people know that when I speak about something I care about, I'm not just saying that to say it. Just to be part of a movement or whatever. Like, I've never embraced the whole 5G thing. I don't get into these little conspiracies or whatever. I try to give people facts. And if people don't want to accept it, that's on them. I'm trying to make sure, as an OG out here, that I'm saying and doing what needs to be said and done in these moments.
And people can either embrace it or reject it. It's really on them. But I feel like, a lot of people, at some point, put their own selfish wants before everything else. I understand there's a lot of people who've had to go through COVID by themselves at home. And it's nerve-racking. Because that's not what their life was at all. Their life was built around socializing and communing with people in public places. And that's a very human thing. I'm not saying they're different from people. But I mean, you look at certain people, and they're literally in this very small apartment, right? There are maybe the third or fourth floor. In New York, it could be the 10th 12th floor. They don't have a balcony. So like, even me, for example, like even though we can't -- when COVID first started, you couldn't really leave the house. I have a front yard. I have a backyard with a porch so we can go and sit out and relax or listen to music or cook food like we've been doing lately. So I'm not necessarily inside separated from people. But there are a lot of people whose lives consist of that. Of them basically being stuck in their apartment, right? And they can't go out and see the people they want to see and go to the places they want to go. Eat the food they want to eat. Dance. And for some people, that's a priority in their lives, right? And so they're willing to go out and chance it for that opportunity.
For other people -- this is where I talk about there's a lot of violence that's happening right now because people are frustrated. People don't have money. They don't there's no opportunities for people. You already have the basic criminal element that already exists. But now, you have people who are determined to provide for themselves and their families no matter what. So they're taking penitentiary chances they wouldn't normally take. Trying to rob somebody in the spur of the moment. There's been a lot of that lately. People seeing an opportunity to take something from someone, and it's not necessarily their thing, but they don't have. So they're going to do what they need to do to get what they need for themselves and the people they love.
We're in the holiday season right now, which is always a very real time of year. Like, there's a lot of purse snatching and robbing people at cars and stuff like that. And taking bags out of backseats because there's a lot of people that shop from store to store. So, they'll go to one store, they'll buy this, then they'll go to another store, they'll buy that. And so people will see the leaving one store, follow them to the next door, as soon as they leave the car and go in and take what they bought from the previous store.
"You look at Chicago and young people in Chicago, they're being shot at and murdered at a high rate. For them, if you tried to tell them to avoid COVID, like a virus or flu, they’re like, 'Man, I'm trying to avoid the ops.' You know what I’m saying? I'm trying to avoid people spinning the block. So it's like, 'What am I really going to be afraid of? This thing that I may catch. That even if I do catch, maybe I even get it asymptomatically? I don't even get sick from it? Or do I avoid this real physical threat that's apparent, that I know is there.'"
And so it's just a very serious time in America, right now. And so you want to keep people aware of that kind of stuff, as well. But people are more concerned with the threat that they could see and they can feel than one that they can't see or feel. So, you look at Chicago and young people in Chicago, they're being shot at and murdered at a high rate. For them, if you tried to tell them to avoid COVID, like a virus or flu, they’re like, “Man, I'm trying to avoid the ops.” You know what I’m saying? I'm trying to avoid people spinning the block. So it's like, “What am I really going to be afraid of? This thing that I may catch. That even if I do catch, maybe I even get it asymptomatically? I don't even get sick from it? Or do I avoid this real physical threat that's apparent, that I know is there.”
And so there's a balance that people are going through between what they feel they want, and what they feel they need in this time. And so I try to impress upon people what the reality is about this situation but if people have active physical threats against them, I mean, they're going to do what they need to do in the moment. And if that means going outside, in a pandemic, because they don't want to just be like a sitting target or something. There's a lot of different excuses I’m hearing for why people are active in the streets right now. But the volatility is high. I could definitely tell you that there's a lot of anxiety. There's a lot of tension in the streets of America, and people are gravitating to crime and violence in these moments.
With that in mind, how do you balance these feelings of empathy towards the experiences of Americans and the frustrations of having this virus hit close to home after your son and his wife tested positive?
Well, for me, the proximity is different. We're all dealing with the ramifications of the virus in this country. But there are still a lot of people who don't have someone close to them that has been affected by the disease. Our son and his wife both contracted it right at the time where they were giving birth to a new child. It was like the day of the birth my son found out he was infected. The day after the birth, my daughter-in-law found out she was infected. So the baby couldn't go home with them. They had to go in quarantine when they left the hospital. The baby came home with me and my wife for a week and then went with my daughter-in-law's parents for a week. So just that immediate understanding that as much as I would love for them to spend this time with their child, it's just not safe.
That baby has to come from a way out of that environment, because we don't know how a disease like that can affect the newborn child. That's more emotional than anything. But the parents understood it, they weren't crazy about it, but they understand it, because the last thing they want to do is hurt their beautiful baby girl. On the other side of it, my father had it, my aunt had it, as well. They came through pretty good. Everyone in my immediate vicinity, with the exception of one person weathered the storm fairly well. Now, my brother's wife, her mother, who's an older woman, her mother was already in her 90s, she contracted the disease. And unfortunately, she passed away from COVID. And so for them, it was a lot more emotionally taxing. My niece and nephews lost their grandmother. My sister in law lost her mother. And so that was a lot more emotionally taxing than some of these other situations. And it's just in these moments where you want to make sure that you're there for people emotionally, give people an ear to speak or a shoulder to cry on, so to speak.
But we were very happy and lucky in that moment that we were not infected, and we were able to provide a safe environment for our granddaughter to be in those times. But it really makes you think, like, this is real. And I felt the need -- I very seldom put my family's business out there. But I felt it was important to let people know that trust me, whereas they may not trust it news, they may not trust social media, whatever. But they have, there's a trust factor that I have built up with certain people. And when I get out there and say, ‘hey, it's real, my son has it,’ people started looking at things a little bit different.
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DAY TWO OF HNHH INTERVIEW WITH BUN B
You have always been at the forefront of many social causes in Houston and America. You were obviously very vocal about the Breonna Taylor case. You shared something after the election that really stood out to me about how people shouldn’t be complacent about making change just because the Biden-Harris administration won the election.
This government will not actively promote ideas, legislation, [and] reform for people of color, specifically Black people in this country, without being forced to do it. Like, America is not going to wake up one day and acknowledge its complicity in systemic racism. That's far from a government aspect, right? It's complicity and systemic racism. Its complicity in oppression. Suppression. All of these different things that have been done to create roadblocks for People Of Color in this country trying to get to the same level of equality as white people. Anytime the rights of the citizen have been either reclaimed or redirected to benefit the citizen, it's only because of citizens standing up to be heard. So the government doesn't necessarily look over the law of the land, and purposely make reforms that benefit us just because it's a wrong that's being done. We have to scream that it's wrong -- that we've been wronged in these circumstances. And that change must happen. It has to be very strong demands, it has to be very loud demands, there has to be a disruption of normalcy on some level. The least of it tends to be -- you know, you'll see a group of people doing sit-ins in government buildings and disrupting traffic on interstates, right? That's like the low end of it. Obviously, the higher end, the further end of it, is when you see structural damage, like looting. That kind of stuff. And all these things, whether you agree with them or not, caused change to occur. And it's funny that whenever we talk about looting in this country and rioting in this country, it's always from the perspective of People Of Color committing these acts. No one really talks about the hundreds of acts of rioting and looting through Black communities in their earliest days of formation, right? From the 1800s up until maybe the 1900s. It's funny how it's always framed when we commit these acts, but there's no accountability for what happened in Tulsa, Black Wall Street, things of that nature. Although it wouldn't be my course of action, I don't denounce people that choose to act out in that way.
"And it's funny that whenever we talk about looting in this country and rioting in this country, it's always from the perspective of People Of Color committing these acts. No one really talks about the hundreds of acts of rioting and looting through Black communities in their earliest days of formation, right? From the 1800s up until maybe the 1900s. It's funny how it's always framed when we commit these acts, but there's no accountability for what happened in Tulsa, Black Wall Street, things of that nature. Although it wouldn't be my course of action, I don't denounce people that choose to act out in that way."
I mean, look at Kyle Rittenhouse. Like, the whole idea that he decided that it was necessary for him to cross state lines with a weapon he's not old enough to possess to protect the property of people he doesn't even know. Lawfully -- legally, you have the right to protect your property. So if people were in Kyle Rittenhouse’s yard, knocking on his door, threatening him in that manner, or at his place of business -- he’s a 17-18 year old kid, he doesn't have a place of business -- then, yeah, I could see a situation where excessive force might be justified, in that moment. If there's an actual threat upon your person or your property. I've dealt with that. The threat of someone on my property so I totally understand that. But I can't leave Houston, and go to New Orleans because my friend Derek has a sneaker store there and they might do something to his store. I'm not justified in protecting someone else's property.
Look, I have friends that own businesses that have been looted. I talked to Don C in Chicago when they looted RSVP Gallery. And, you know, my whole thing is, like, ‘Man, I hate that this happened to your store. I hate that. You know, this happened to you in the moment, but I'm sure you see what's happening.’ And Don was like, ‘Look, if taking things from my store would have helped ease the pain of people dealing with police brutality in this country, I would have opened the doors and given it to them. I have no problem supporting them in that effort, understanding their pain, wanting to help them deal with the trauma of these acts. If that's what it would have taken for somebody to come in and take some Bape shirts or a couple of Mastermind tees or a pair of sneakers, I would have opened the doors.’
I talked to Sean Wotherspoon in LA about Round Two and stuff like that, you know, and people are like, ‘Look, we can replace property, we're dealing with loss of life.’ That's the real issue. Most of these business owners are not necessarily throwing pity parties. Not all of them, because I understand that for some people, it's a lot harder for them to rebuild, and I get that. But I mean, not all business owners are like, ‘Man, this is wrong. This isn't right.’ The real wrong in America is the police brutality, is these crimes of violence acted out against people of color in this country. If we don't have that, then there's no reason to riot or loot.
People look at Minneapolis, and they want to talk about Target. We're not going to feel bad for Target. Target’s a multibillion dollar corporation. And a lot of people don't know what happened in Minneapolis. When people were protesting, they were in the area of the Target, and tried to go into Target for refreshments. For water chips, snacks and stuff like that while they were out. And Target wouldn't let them in. That's basically Target sending a signal that ‘we don't stand with you in this moment.’ That's why people reacted the way that they did to that particular Target.
Minneapolis has been a hotbed of police brutality for a while. The reason the city reacted in a way that it did, in terms of George Floyd's murder, is that they were fed up. This was the straw that broke the camel's back, so to speak. And it was like, ‘we can't take it. They're consistently doing this.’ And then the officers that commit these crimes against us continue to police our neighborhoods. So when the police cars drive by, I don't see police officers. I see murderers, right, stalking my neighborhood. That's how the local community looked at it. And there's a lot of communities that feel the same way as far as these things are concerned.
So I feel like we have to be adamant about this level of reform. About policies that protect people in their communities in terms of police relations, police escalation, and all of that. They want to act like, ‘Okay, well, we don't need to defund the police. We just need to get them the proper training.’ They already get that training.
The level of escalation that's allowed in the moment. The need for cutting on your body cam. Policing in neighborhoods of Color with people that you don't necessarily look like? They get training for that. It's about whether or not they choose to embrace that training and apply it in the moment. And unfortunately, not enough of them do. So, we have to continuously hold the powers that be accountable regardless of who's in the White House. Because as positive as I feel about Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’s administration, I don’t feel strongly that they’re going to prioritize the need for that level of reform. Joe Biden already said he doesn’t believe in defunding the police. Much less dismantling the police. Those are things that we're gonna have to push for and fight for.
With this present administration, who many of us supported getting in office, I do believe that we will be allowed to be afforded a seat at the table to have these conversations. All we want as a level of negotiation, right? What are you willing to accept and what won’t you accept? Then we can kind of go back-and-forth over what we can actively apply on a national basis. That's my thing. There's going to be state laws and localized city laws in terms of these things. But to have a blanket level of reform, set out by the government, by the administration starting in 2021, would do a lot to help push this forward. I don't think it's something they're going to do right out of the gate, because obviously, the priority in America right now, from a government standpoint, is COVID. And then, the economy. But once we've rebounded from the infection rate, right? Once we've rebounded in terms of getting local businesses and small businesses reopened and getting people back to work, trying to get back to a level of normalcy that people can live by, right? And continue to prosper in this great country. We're gonna have to keep up the fight. I mean, it's just that simple.
It was just the fact of Trump being so bigoted in his views. So racist in his views and basically, being complicit in the conversation that people are having in regards to not allowing black bodies to live peacefully in this country. That was a big problem. So I was like, look, this guy isn't trying to hear what we're talking about. He basically represents the other side of the argument. We just need to replace him with somebody who is willing to have these conversations, hear us out and potentially do something. And if they choose not to act, then we'll know very early on that there's a need for a better administration. And once these candidates start presenting themselves -- probably it's going to be in maybe 2023. That's the time when an Ice Cube submits his CWBA, while people are actively running. So, that someone can say, ‘You know what, if I embrace this, I recognize this as essential for life for Black people and People Of Color in this country. So, if you elect me as President, I will enact this.’ That kind of a thing.
I think that the reason that [Democrats] weren't necessarily receptive to Ice Cube is because they didn't feel like they needed to be. They felt that Trump was enough to make Black people vote for Biden. That they didn't need any other inherent reasoning as to why they should not vote the incumbent back into office, right?
I do feel that the things that Ice Cube presented need to be addressed, at some point. And if people aren’t willing to accept these things, and try to enact, let's say seven out of 10 points, then we realize that this administration is not going to benefit us in that way. And that we need to start putting our power and weight and our vote and our voice behind people in this country who will look to enact some of these things. And help to push black people over this set of hurdles and give us a more equal place and more equal chance of life in America. Getting us to that American dream that we all always want to talk about America has in values.
You bring up Ice Cube and the Contract With Black America. Do you feel like the meeting with Trump overshadowed the content that Ice Cube presented in this contract?
I think the problem is that the Trump administration tried to make it look as if Ice Cube was working with them, as opposed to Ice Cube presenting something to them. Now, the reality is that if you want change, you do have to negotiate with the powers that be. But there's no need to go into a negotiation with people who are not going to hear you out and actively do something about what you're negotiating about. There's a difference between a presentation and a negotiation. What Ice Cube did was present something to the administration to look for a place where a negotiation was possible. What were they even open to negotiating these points? And if not, then we'll go to the other side. And if neither side wants to negotiate these points, then it's time for us to start looking to put someone into power that will. I think the timing was the issue for a lot of people. I saw that in terms of Ice Cube, and people like Diddy coming into the conversation when the majority of presidential candidates for the Democratic Party had already been eliminated.
"I think it was a bold gesture by Ice Cube. I think that he knew at some point that there would be blowback from it, push back from it. And people kind of pointing the finger, right? If you don't know who Ice Cube is at this point, and whether that Ice Cube gives a fuck about how you feel, then that's on you."
If this is something that you want the next administration to consider, then I think it's something that you approach at an earlier place. I don't knock the idea of doing it. I think it was a bold gesture by Ice Cube. I think that he knew at some point that there would be blowback from it, push back from it. And people kind of pointing the finger, right? If you don't know who Ice Cube is at this point, and whether that Ice Cube gives a fuck about how you feel, then that's on you. You know, I'm saying I don't know why anyone is surprised by Ice Cube actually wanting these things for black people. And willing to talk to whoever he needed to talk to, to do it. Because in his mind, he doesn't give a fuck who puts Black people in the best position to prosper as long as they put Black people in a position to prosper. That’s how we should be right. I think a lot of people got offended because of the way that representatives of the administration -- with the tweets and everything saying we're so happy to have sat with Ice Cube to talk about the Platinum plan. This was about them perverting the narrative and subverting the narrative to benefit them with People Of Color and Black people in this country. They didn't give a damn about the way Ice Cube ended up being perceived by those same people. I support someone like Ice Cube trying to use his platform and his level of fluence to bring about change for Black people. That's kind of been part of his agenda for a while. He's very close with the Honorable Minister Farrakhan, as well as super informed people like Chuck D, who are very active and have always been active in this space.
I commend Ice Cube for doing it. I supported it fully. But, I could understand how based off the way, certain people tweeted about this, where people could be like, ‘Oh, no! Ice Cube’s fucking with Trump’. Nothing could be further from the truth. And I think anybody that really knows Ice Cube knows that.
It’s very easy for people to voice these very skewed opinions through social media. Like, nobody's gonna run up to Ice Cube and be like, ‘Yo, that's fucked up. You workin’ with Trump!’ Nobody's gonna do that. Right? I tell people like, it's funny to me that people have the audacity to try to wait until this moment to try to prove their tough to Ice Cube. He’s gonna keep on doing whatever it is he feels he needs to do in order to help Black people, whether or not all Black people agree with him or not. Because all black people haven't agreed with him up to this point. So, there's no need for him to stop now. He's not here to please every Black person. He's here to initiate change that helps to benefit every Black person. And when you do these things, it's not always understood in the moment. So, I understand how there could be a concerted effort to subvert Ice Cube’s message and Ice Cube’s effort to look at it another way.
Was it disappointing to see more and more rappers coming out with endorsements for Trump? The one for me that stood out was Lil Wayne. That certainly came out of the left field.
I'm not here to make excuses for anybody, right? Whatever Wayne chooses to do with his life, that's on him. And he has to deal with the ramifications of these actions. I do feel like money was a part of it. Because 50 Cent came out afterwards, and talked about how the Trump campaign offered him a million dollars to come out in support of him. So, I can see them making these different phone calls to different individuals. I think Rich The Kid spoke about how they wanted to send a private plane and bring him out. So I could see them trying to cater to egos, or pockets, in order to get -- like they were willing to do anything they could to repurpose the Black vote in their favor. Because they understand that the only reason that things have been going with this country. It's because they've been able to eliminate the Black vote. It's always been understood that when Black people choose to vote, the elections tend to go in their favor.
When they saw that black people were coming out in record numbers, getting registered, sitting in early voting, being prepared to push other people to get involved. All these different initiatives for Black people to get Black people involved in this election. For them, the best thing is that Black people not vote. Disenfranchise the Black voter completely. Keep them out of the polls at all costs. But if they are going to go to the polls, let's try to find a reason that would allow them to even consider voting for us. And because they don't have real true frames of reference with Black people, Black culture and the Black experience in this country, the first thing they can do is, say, ‘Hey, let's get some rappers behind us right now.’
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Now, I love Lil Wayne as an artist. I love him as a person but Lil Wayne is not informed enough to speak on these types of things. You could look at Lil Pump on the stand at that truck rally. I would say probably 85% of the people in there had no idea who he was. And he didn't have any idea of the issues or anything. He gets up there, and, you know, Sleepy Joe and all that kind of stuff. He doesn't really understand how politics work in this country. He saw an opportunity to be out there to be seen. And look, if he likes Trump, he likes Trump, that's him but he has to understand that a large part of his base don't agree with it. That's why it's important for entertainers to be very careful whenever they speak out about certain things. Particularly, when it deals with race and politics in this country. It’s for your own good that you really, really only speak about things that you care about, right? Because there's a very good chance that you could be vilified publicly and lose your standing with your base. If you make the wrong decision and come out for or against the wrong issues, depending on where the majority of people who look up to you, support you and look at you as a person of influence, feel. I don't think they really took that into consideration when they did these things. And if they did, then that should tell you a lot about how some of these artists feel about you.
"I don't look for policy information from Lil Wayne or Lil Pump. Those are not the people I would go to. Even if I was young, and part of their core fan base. Like I'm a big fan of Lil Wayne. I've known him since he's about 14 years old. I've watched his whole growth in this world, and he's been amazing in terms of his artistry. We're not going to take that away from him. But I don't think he has the knowledge and wherewithal to really even enter into this discussion. I mean, everybody can have an opinion. I just think that he put himself in a position of criticism. And just people just coming for his head because of this."
I don't look for policy information from Lil Wayne or Lil Pump. Those are not the people I would go to. Even if I was young, and part of their core fan base. Like I'm a big fan of Lil Wayne. I've known him since he's about 14 years old. I've watched his whole growth in this world, and he's been amazing in terms of his artistry. We're not going to take that away from him. But I don't think he has the knowledge and wherewithal to really even enter into this discussion. I mean, everybody can have an opinion. I just think that he put himself in a position of criticism. And just people just coming for his head because of this.
Wayne is very important to Black culture. Lil Wayne as an artist, his music. His legacy is very important to Black culture and has very deep resonation with a lot of Black people, but they're not going to put that before the needs of their community, the needs of their family and the needs of black people in America, right? So, if black people got to choose between police reform, the destruction of systemic racism, and policies that help benefit black people in this country, they're not going to put Lil Wayne in front of that.
You know, because there's a lot of other music we can listen to. I think people are starting to forget that people have a choice. And you when you do these things, you put people in the position of having to make a choice. And when it comes to the betterment of Black people, very few of us are going to win against that, if any of us.
It’s not like Lil Wayne hasn’t made political statements in his music but that’s not necessarily a frequent theme in his music. How did you feel when Trump referred to Lil Wayne as an activist? Especially given your documented history with philanthropy and activism in your community and across America.
It doesn't bother me at all, because the Trump administration knows exactly who the entertainers that are active in their communities in this country. The problem is that the majority of those people who are active in that space are against him. When he decides to bring these people in, he has to make it seem as if these people are more highly regarded in this space than they really are. So, the idea of calling Lil Wayne and activists is only to tell the people that support him, ‘Look, this guy is active in the community, but he's active on our side.’ Right? That's the message that's being sent out to people. It’s all a subversion, right? It's all about painting a picture and presenting something in the way that you want it to be presented. I'm on the frontlines. People like Trae Tha Truth are on the frontlines. Mr. Rogers is on the frontline. Stephen Jackson, on the frontline. Mysonne, on the frontline. We don't take offense to that, because we know these people deal in misinformation. The idea of putting little Wayne, next to the president is all about subversion. We see some version tactics on every level. On a localized level, the state level, on a national level. And if you really look at it, on an international level.
We don't get caught up in it, because that's really designed to pit Black man against Black man and take the attention off of the oppressor. So we're not going to fall for the banana in the tailpipe. We're going to keep directing things at you. At the same time, we would hope to get to someone like Lil Wayne and impress upon him the need to not do that. But Wayne's been very, like anti Black Lives Matter. There's a history of him speaking out, like against Black Lives Matter, and not really moving in this space and having a concern to move in this space. So when people who don't carry our same concerns speak opposing opinions to our concerns, we disregard these people. Now. I think that's what's happening with people like Lil Wayne. I think Ice Cube inadvertently is getting grouped into this. I mean, we can work that out. Ice Cube is going to be fine. He's okay. It's not going to hurt his feelings. If people decide not to fuck with him anymore. That's not going to be a problem for Cube but I think it could potentially be a point of concern for people like Lil Wayne.
We don't take these kinds of distractions, right? Like, I'm not gonna stop doing everything I'm doing to diss Lil Pump. It's not what I'm here for. We're focused. We're staying on message. And we're going to continue speaking out against these things, regardless of who chooses to be with us or against us. Neither one is going to stop us. You want to roll with us? Cool. If not cool? We're still going where we're going.
Have you ever considered entering the political sphere? I know Scarface was running for city council. Honestly, you feel like the unofficial mayor of Houston, anyway. Is that something you want to see materialize?
It's something that, at this point, I have to consider because there's so many people that are talking to me about it. I understand what it takes to win in a political position, whether it’s local state or nationally. And so, because of the fact that I do have the awareness of what the community wants, I have the connection with the community for them to be able to come to me and tell me what it is that they feel they need, and quite honestly, I have the popularity t it takes to win a public office. You have to consider it, right?
I have to take into consideration that if -- our Mayor Sylvester Turner is a great man. I think he's done great things in the city. He's also been a state representative. He's been on City Council. He's been a part of a lot of great things in terms of helping the city. This is his last term, though. So if there isn't someone that he's going to recommend to replace him, and throw his support behind, if there's going to be someone that we don't feel has the city's best interest, then it's something I got to have to consider. Like, I've had someone tell me like, ‘If you don't run for mayor after Sylvester, his last turn, this person is going to run for mayor. They already have the funding. They've already run before but lost, but they have now they have the name notoriety in the city. And if you don't run, that person becomes mayor.’ I have to weigh that, right?
I don't think you should run for mayor because you can, I think you should run for these elected offices because you care. Because if I just ran for something, because I felt I could, there's a number of offices that I could run for and potentially win. I could definitely win a City Council seat, that's not even a question. I could definitely win for a comptroller or a county clerk or any of these different types of things. I even feel like if I ran in the right county, I could win a state rep seat.
But is that really where I want to be? Is that really what I want to do? That's something that you have to really consider. So I have to weigh the pros, as well as the cons. And keep in mind, if I become the mayor of Houston, I'm not rapping. I can’t do concerts. Because if I just ran for something, because I felt I could, there's a number of offices that I could run for potentially win. I could definitely win a city council seat, that's not even a question. I could definitely win for a Comptroller or a County Clerk or any of these different types of things. I even feel like if I ran in the right County, I could win a state rep seat, right? But is that really where I want to be? Is that really what I want to do? Right? That's something that you have to really consider, right? So I have to weigh the pros, as well as the cons.
And keep in mind, if I become the mayor of Houston, I'm not rapping. Because I can't be in Nashville at some festival, getting ready to go on stage and then get a call that a firefighter died in the line of duty or a police officer has died in the line of duty. Because it's my job, for one, to contact the families and give them the bad news but it's also my job -- let's say a cop is murder, right? It's my job to let the people in the city know that we're going to find this murder it take them off the streets. If a cop kills a citizen, it's my job to call that family and let them know that we're going to do everything we can to find out if someone's accountable for this murder and it's not justified, right? It's not a justifiable use of deadly force. We've got to hold that officer accountable.
So there's a lot of different things that you’ve got to navigate. And running off trying to do a second job is not going to allow me to do that. But we get so mad when we see Trump golfing on the weekend, when people have real concerns, when people are dying in this country. I wouldn't want my city to have a spout of violence and I'm in Miami for Art Basel. Like, it just doesn't work like that. So, I've got to weigh all of that, in terms of deciding whether or not I want to run for public office. But, I'd be lying if I didn't say that there isn't an active consideration. I mean, we're literally looking to put together an exploratory committee about it.
It's something we're talking about, but I mean, we'll see. I don't want to say no, but I'm definitely not saying yes right now because you never know.
I feel like that’s a great segue. Would you ever be ready to hang up the microphone? If that were to happen, would you be fulfilled with your career and what you’ve contributed to the game?
No, no, I still get so much out of it. I love being a part of the culture. And there are artists who are 10, 15, 20 years older than me, who are still actively out here rapping. I'm on a song Kay Slay put together. Melly Mel is on the song. Grandmaster Caz is on the song. Ice-T is on the song. So these people are older than me, right? They're the generation before me, yet they're still active in the culture. Now, for people like an Ice Cube or Ice-T, it's not their main stream of revenue, right? But no matter how much money it makes from Law & Order, no matter how much money Ice Cube makes from the Big3, they never dropped the mic.
You know, and I remember when people like Too $hort used always say ‘I’m retiring’ and then two years later, they put out an album. I don't want to be contradictory like that. Like, as long as people appreciate what I do, and by the level of execution I have in terms of my art, I'm gonna do that! Will it always be full albums, promo tours and all of that stuff? Maybe not, but I'm not ready to put them right down by any means. I still feel like I have some things to say. And here's the thing, right? If ever, I want someone to be the next Bun B, I have to actively support those people. So, I have to use my platform and my level of influence to tell people, ‘Hey, if you like me, and you fuck with me, and the way I move, not just inside music, but outside music and the way I represent the culture, then you need to really be looking at this guy because he's the younger version of me. And he's a smarter version of me.’ Whenever people try to give me a lot of accolades or whatever, always point to Killer Mike or David Banner. Like, those are the next Bun B’s. Those are the guys who are really good at their art, but also have deep concerns about their community and a level of intellect that allows him to speak to those things.
Yo, yesterday, before the internet situation came up, we were about to dive into the Jeezy and Gucci Mane Verzuz. I believe you mentioned you were watching it from backstage at Dave Chappelle’s show in Houston.
Dave Chappelle was in town for three days. If you seen the video that Dave posted to his page about the Netflix situation, I was 10 feet away from him standing side stage while he delivered this. I had no idea they were filming it or anything but it was very profound that he was -- because none of us knew it. You look at the liquidity of Dave Chappelle and this level of celebrity that Dave Chappelle has, the assumption is that everything is going his way. Right? And it turns out, that nothing could be further from the truth. And so we were all kind of taken aback.
The day of Verzuz is different from the day that we were at the Dave Chappelle show. So, the day for Dave Chappelle, it was myself, Paul Wall and TOBE. We're all together watching Dave Chappelle get up there. And in that moment, you realize that you have to consistently work to protect your art. That there are people out here whose job it is to profit off of art that they don't create because they're not creators. So, it's about manipulating contracts. Not allowing proper music business education, right? Or trying to find people who don't have that type of education. And of course, it's bigger than the music industry, because we're talking about comedy, right? But any level of entertainment that deals in intellectual properties. If the people that owned the label could create the content, they wouldn't need you. So. it's their job to get the content and to own the content.
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If they're gonna make you a star and make you popular, it's going to be based off of the content that you create. And that's where the money is going to come. Because, you know, people are still laughing at Eddie Murphy jokes from 30 years ago, Richard Pryor jokes from 40 years ago, you know? George Carlin routine from 50 years ago. So, you have to actively, consistently work to protect your art.
And just knowing that something that entertains so many people, in the moment, and still to this day, like The Chappelle Show, is not in the hands of Dave Chappelle, is confusing to the average person. To artists, it's disheartening.
I'm always for artists, letting the public know where their money is going. Because the only reason people support these things is because they believe in that effort that they're supporting you. People buy your music, because they believe you're going to get the money, right? They want to see you come up. People go and watch your movie because they believe you're going to come up. They watch your TV show all of these things in an effort to support you and put you in a certain place of comfort. Or atleast have you benefit from the art, right? And so when people find that stuff out, they don't understand it. People don't understand how contracts work and all this stuff. They think you make a song, you get paid for the son. A lot of that doesn't necessarily work like that.
For one, I'm glad that Netflix recognizes in the moment that whatever money they make streaming, The Chappelle Show, isn't worth what they could potentially lose in terms of support for Dave Chappelle on their platform and support of their platform, as well. And keep in mind, Netflix is paying Dave Chappelle $20 million a special. If for some reason Dave feels offended, and you guys don't act on that to erase that offense, then now Dave is like, ‘Okay, well, I'm not doing any more specials here. Let me go talk to Hulu. Let me go talk to Amazon Prime. I'm sure any of these people would love to have this content on their platform.’
I do think it's troubling, man, that we haven't rectified this, these issues of intellectual properties in terms of contracts, right? So, the more that artists like Dave Chappelle go out and let people know that their rights have been infringed upon by the powers that be, the less likely the next people will go into these situations not thinking to protect their properties, their names, their likenesses. He's not the first person who didn't find out they didn't own their name. He's not the first person to find out that they didn't own their art. Now, because when you're young, and you know, you're in the midst of the struggle and the grind, you really just want to get on. Signing that contract for a lot of people is the end all be all. But once you get into the business, you realize that the contract is the beginning. This is how we decide how this thing is going to end. It doesn't end here. It starts here. And so, the more awareness that artists have going into those negotiations, the better it is for all artists.
Now, getting back to Verzuz, this was me, Paul Wall and Trae sitting around watching Verzuz. We're watching it on my phone. For me, it's very strange because I was there in the beginning of both of these guys, right? So, the day I do my verse for “Trap Or Die” is the same day I do my verse for the “Black Tee” remix. Like, we're all in the same studio. So like I'm in the studio recording “Trap Or Die” which is my second song with Jeezy. My first song was “Money Over Here.” That was more like a feature-for-hire type of thing. My friend D Money reached out to me, like, ‘Yo, there’s cat Young Jeezy in Atlanta. He's coming up musically. He wants to put you on a song.’ ‘Okay. Does he have a budget? Yeah? Okay, this is what I charge.’ I do the song right after that. We get to know each other, we become friends. And then the next project comes up, he's like, ‘Yo, I need you on this one, too.’ I'm like, ‘Let's do it.’ So I go to the studio, I lay my verse, I go out in the hallway, and Gucci's literally walking down the hallway when I go out. So we talk, he's like, ‘Yo, I'm in the other room. I'm working on this song.’ I'm saying I'd love to have you on this song. I'm like, ‘Let's do it.’ And so, they get to know each other. They end up recording “So Icy” produced by Zaytoven featuring Lil’ Wil; So, I'm there literally.
To my knowledge, they'd only perform that song together twice before, because I was at both of those. But then that's when Jeezy’s buzz starts to go, Def Jam wants to sign him based off, “So Icy.” They're trying to figure out who actually owns the song because it's not necessarily Gucci featuring Jeezy, or Jeezy featuring Gucci. It's Jeezy and Gucci, at the time. And so their friendship kind of -- basically, that's where the friction starts. Based on who owns “So Icy,” they end up falling out. Shit gets deep. Very deep. Very street. Very quickly. And so, we see 15 years go by with these dudes not really even fucking with each other at all. We see the murder. The home invasion and the murder, which makes things even worse. But to see that they were actually able to put whatever issue they have with each other to the side to come together in that moment.
As crazy as it seems, I was very proud of Gucci. He's come a long way. Like there was a time where that never would have happened. I was very shocked when Swizz was like, ‘Yo, first Verzuz season two, Gucci vs. Jeezy.’ I'm like, ‘You sure about that? Like, where's that gonna happen? Who's gonna be there? Do I need to come?’ They were like, ‘Nah, it's good. We're just gonna let it fly. We're just gonna let him see what happens.’ They talked about it.
If I'm not mistaken Jeezy was well aware of what Gucci's approach was going to be because I feel like they're speaking to two different people. Two different audiences. Like, there's three audiences, right? There's the people that love the idea of Gucci and Jeezy being in the same room together. And then there are people who are hesitant for Jeezy to enter that room. And there are people who are hesitant for Gucci entering that room. But somewhere between them, the two men, they decided that they were ready. However it was going to happen, they were ready to make it happen. And so everybody needed to be prepared for what was going to happen in the room. Jeezy showed up. Typical Jeezy, right? His mannerisms, his body language, all of that. Typical Jeezy. Same thing with Gucci. You know, the clothes, the jewelry. Typical Gucci, right? So, they went in there as themselves, they left as themselves but we still got to see them share that space and actually perform “So Icy.”
You have to realize that unless you were in Atlanta at that time, and those clubs, you've never seen them perform “Icy” together. It was groundbreaking because I can't think of any active beef, right? Like, obviously the biggest hip hop beef would have been Death Row versus Bad Boy. That's bigger than pretty much any rap beef we've had. And then obviously, in current times, we see things with King Von’s camp versus Quando Rondo's camp and stuff like that, but we won't really get into that. Rest in peace, King Von. But as far as active beef, where two people have beef, that are both prevalent and relevant in hip hop culture, but still live in the same city. That's the other thing. Like, living actively in the same city with each other. To kind of put that aside, not permanently, right? I don't think anybody walked out to their liking the other person more than they did when they walked in the room. But they were able to agree on that moment and create something that was bigger than them as individuals. Bigger than their collective beefs with each other and bigger than rap. All of those things happen in Magic City last Thursday, and I'm glad that I was able to witness it.
Was that the most legendary shit you’ve seen at Magic City?
Oh no, I've been to Magic City with BMF, with Meech before.
Can you tell me a bit more about those times?
You really can't. Like everything that you see in music videos today, everything you see on Instagram and all that kind of stuff. You see the guys you know with tons of money and stuff like that. I've never seen what I saw with BMF before. I've never seen it since.
I remember specifically being in Atlanta. I'm going to a nightclub. Now, this is a nightclub, not a strip club, right? This is like the Sunday night cool out spot in Atlanta. I saw them throw $20,000 in that club. Like, in a regular nightclub for no reason. That doesn't even speak to what they would do in strip clubs in that city.
God, I can’t even. It's really hard to kind of put to -- like, when you go to a club and you see a giraffe, you don’t really know how to take that. Like, Meech’s birthday party at the Compound is probably the craziest thing I will ever personally bore witness to. ‘Cause there's animals. Like, it's not just a giraffe. There's a monkey. There's some other shit but I had never seen a giraffe before in person. I wasn't expecting to see one at a nightclub. It’s the craziest shit.
Meech doing what Meech did in those times was never a like, ‘fuck these n***as. I'ma show these n***as how we do it.’ It was more like a -- how do I explain this? Meech’s life was like an infomercial. It was like, ‘We're balling. You can be ballin’, too. Everybody's woman is taken care of. Everybody’s kids are in a good school.’ You know what I’m sayin’? Like, ‘if you're a woman and you like a man, whatever kind of man you'd like, we got it. You like a tall guy? We got ‘em. You like a short guy? We got ‘em. You like skinny guys? We got ‘em. You got fat guys? We got it. Anything you could want and they all got money. So, you just pick whoever you want because we all got money. We all take care of our kids. We’ll take care of your kids, too, if you got them. You riding with us.’ It was insane. Every time was insane but Meech was very -- I don't really have a word to describe ‘em, right? To be so much larger than life and be down to earth at the same time. And it was never about Meech. It was always about us.
BMF was not designed to make Meech the big man but it was based on how Meech moved. BMF was composed of people from all around the country. So there's Detroit people, obviously, because Meech is from Detroit. There’s Chicago people, the St. Louis people, California people, New York people, Florida people, and of course, Georgia people. And it was really about a show of unity. Like, if you're out here in this life, everybody ain't your enemies. Like, there's a way for all of us to get money together. To come up together. He tried to show street unity, which really didn't exist on that level. And it was just, it was just something to witness. I mean, my wife talks about it all the time. Like every time, I'd be like, ’Yo, Meech is doing this. You should come down to this.’ She would come and she'd be petrified because my wife understands the streets. My wife is from the hood. And she was like, ‘I don't feel safe. Not from them but I know that people are watching them.’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, they're watching. They're definitely everywhere. We're gonna go this weekend, there'll be there. Like, they'll be there. But I'm not here to say I'm not doing anything illegal, right? I'm just a rapper. So don't worry about that because there's not going to be any film, or any pictures where I'm in a room with money or drugs. So we're good. We're rappers, right? As long as you act like who you are, right, stay in that space, you'll be fine. If you try to pretend you're doing more with this group of people than you are, that's when problems are going to arise.’ So she eventually started to find a level of comfort. And a lot of people don't know, Meech was on his way to my birthday party when he went to jail.
"Meech was arrested in Dallas. Meech was on his way to Houston for my birthday party. Because he was like, ‘You always with us when we party for our birthdays. We comin’ to party with you. So, we comin’ to show Houston how BMF gets down.’ And I was really excited for people to see it in person. Because I come home and I try to explain it to people. And this is before the proliferation of camera phones and video and stuff like that. So, there wasn't really a lot of proof."
Meech was arrested in Dallas. Meech was on his way to Houston for my birthday party. Because he was like, ‘You always with us when we party for our birthdays. We comin’ to party with you. So, we comin’ to show Houston how BMF gets down.’ And I was really excited for people to see it in person. Because I come home and I try to explain it to people. And this is before the proliferation of camera phones and video and stuff like that. So, there wasn't really a lot of proof. We would be in Miami, right? And Meech would be like we're going to the club tonight. So they'll call the club and be like, ‘Yo, we need like -- we don't need a section, we need the stage. There's no section that can hold us so we need the stage. And we want 100 bottles of champagne, 20 bottles of vodka, 20 bottles of tequila for this section.’ Sometimes, the club will be like, ‘Well, we only got 50 bottles for the whole club. Like, we only got 50 bottles of champagne for everybody.’ [Meech said], ‘Alright, don't worry. I'm going to bring some send somebody over there with the bottles. Just have them cold when we get there.’ I'd seen bottle servers before, but I'd never seen sparklers before. I never saw that level of presentation. And to just see this endless stream of people. It would be like a 5-10 minute thing for them to get all the bottles there because there's only so many bottle girls in the club. So, let's say you got eight girls working, each one of them got two bottles in their hands, that's only 16. We still got another 84 bottles. And that's just champagne. And each one of these bottles has a sparkling so the club is lit up now at this point with this whole idea of what's happening. And then after that I saw it but I never saw like bottles and sparklers and this whole like big presentation before that moment. I'm not saying it didn't exist. But I've never seen it before. T
I've seen Drake in Houston for HOF. I've seen a lot of money. Like, I've seen him with a lot of money right in the moment but that's all his money. When BMF used to do it, that wasn't just Meech’s money, right? That's J-Bo’s money. That's Big Cuzz money. That's all these different people. It was amazing to see. There'd be times when, let's say this guy only has 50 grand. Somebody will tap you, like, Meech will tap you, like, ‘Tell so and so I need another 30.’ And then another guy will just have 30 grand on him and send it off. Everybody had enough money for anything.
I mean, you just don't see that level of unity. The crazy thing about BMF -- like, yeah, there was snitches involved. There are people but they were never from the core. Nobody in that core group did anything out of pocket from what I saw. That could be different, I don't know. But everybody that I saw that was in that core group of BMF members, like Captains in that unity, they all stayed down. They all stayed solid. We still say Free Big Meech. BMF for life.
I love hearing these BMF stories from people who’ve witnessed it first hand because it’s almost unearthly.
No, no, absolutely. And again, because there's not a lot of proof for this stuff, It's hard for people to believe. But if everything you heard about them that seemed like, ‘there's no way there.’ There was a way (laughs). There was really a way.
Just getting back to Verzuz, you recently posted the possibility of a UGK Verzuz Outkast. When can we expect this to go down?
People keep asking for that. My conversation with Swizz was about UGK Verzuz 8Ball & MJG. It's the people that are now asking for UGK and Outkast, right? I talked to Ball and G when Verzuz first started. At first, it was just producers, right? This whole concept come from the idea of beat battles. And so, when they were first doing producers, and they were starting to move into artists, I remember DJ Paul saying that you wanted to do Three 6 Mafia and Bone Thugs. And he put it out there and Swiss was like, ‘Okay, we'll consider that, you know, let's put that down and figure out when and how we can make that happen.’ And so in that time, I reached out and I was like, ‘Look, man, I reached out to Ball & G. Would y'all want to do this?’ And they really didn't know. But this was a very new concept and I explained exactly what it was. And Ball was like, ‘Man, I trust your judgment. If you think this is a good thing for us to do. I'm with it. Let's do it.’ And so I reached out to Swizz and Swizz was like, ‘I love it. Let's do it.’ So, we're still moving on that. Like, UGK Verzuz 8Ball & MJG. Now, if another Verzuz presents itself. I'm open to it. You know, my preference would be obviously to do the one that we already talked about. But if the people say that, we really feel like this is a better one. Then we'll do it.
You shared the cover Too Hard To Swallow for the anniversary. Tell me about the day you guys shot the cover art.
We were in Dallas. We were doing a lot of recording in Dallas. And the record company sent us out to go do the photoshoot. And so, I feel like I'm sweating on that cover. I might not have been but it was a super hot day. And the guy, like, everything he wanted to do with outside. So, we kept getting a little bit more and more pissed about that. Shooting everything outside. And then we just ended up like pulling over on the side of the road. And there was a gate and railroad tracks. And he was like, ‘we want to shoot here.’ And we were like, ‘Yo, we shoot here. This is it. We're not shooting shit else.’ And so when we did that cover, if you look, you can kind of see my irritation in the moment because he's like, ‘I want to do a low shot.’ At this point, I’m the heaviest I've been in my life. If I wasn't 300 lbs. in that picture, I was 300 lbs. probably a week later. Like that's how close I was. I was really out of shape, it was really hot, and it was it was torture for me. And I was like, I don't want to fucking do this.
Literally, after we shot the group of pictures, that became the album cover. I was done. Like, we're done. Not about to be walkin’ around and sweating. You want to shoot some more shit, we could shoot it tonight. Or we can go into some kind of studio and shoot it but I ain't shooting shit. Because it's Texas. It's summertime. It's hot as shit, you know?
I mean, we were very proud of the idea that our first national album was getting ready to come out. But we had no idea what went into it. Like the preparation and promotion, the art direction, all that type of stuff. So that was like a very big life lesson we had to learn that day out in the Dallas sun.
I was watching an old interview that you and Pimp did with Sway. I don’t know if you remember this but he was explaining how you were helping him with his homework outside of the dopehouse. What subject did you tutor him in?
It. was math. It either would have been trigonometry or calculus. Oh, well, I want to say trigonometry.
Can you talk to me about the importance of pushing Pimp to pursue his education?
The whole thing with Pimp was that. You know, Pimp had an illness when he was younger. He had an autoimmune deficiency when he was young. He eventually overcame it. When he was younger, he ended up having to be homeschooled. His entire junior year of high school, he was homeschooled. And then going into his senior year, which is when this happened because I had already graduated, he was still in high school. And he literally did not want to do anything. Like, ‘I'm done with school., I'm just gonna do this music shit.’ He was like, ‘I'm not worried about a plan B. It’s music or nothing for me.’
And we just didn't want him to pigeonhole himself into a situation that didn't allow him to have a plan B prepared because we didn't know if this was going to work at the time. For me, I was like, I'm gonna take a year off. I had opportunities to go to college. I turned them down in order to rap. They call it a gap year now. You know, I was like, we'll give it a shot and if it doesn't work, I'll retake my college entry exam here and just kind of go back to what it was going to be before I fell in love with music. The way it turned out, I ended up signing with a major record company like a week before that year's deadline. So kind of all kind of worked itself out.
My thing was is like you always want to leave yourself with opportunities, right? You could put all your heart, all your passion and all your effort into something and it doesn't mean it's still going to happen. Right? So you always have to be prepared for that stuff and have something to fall back on. So for me, which sounds crazy, but for me, going to college was my fallback. And with Pimp, he didn't really have one.
You have to keep in mind, Pimp was an introvert at this time. This is not the Pimp C that we all see and know. He was a very reserved person. Wasn't really an outside kind of guy. Just really liked staying home and making music. We kind of wanted to keep him centered around that and it worked for about three, four years, and then probably around ‘95, ‘96, he just, like, ‘I don't want to be inside. I want to be outside. I want to go out and enjoy this notoriety that I have. I have this earned privilege, do what I'm doing, and I want to go and try to enjoy some of it.’
"I was the wild one in our younger years. Luckily, there's no video or pictures of that kind of stuff, right? But I was the wilder one. Smoking Angel Dust and shit like that. Ridin’ around with illegal guns and stuff. And then when [Pimp C] decided he wanted to go outside and be outside, as we say now, I was like, ‘Well, both of us can't be out here wildin’. That's not going to work. And I've been wildin’ for the last four or five years so if he decides it's his turn to come out, then I'm going to go in.’ And so that's kind of how the dynamic shifts. And this is the only idea of UGK that most people have."
And he ended up there like, just like, ‘Okay, I like the way this feels. This is where I'm going to be.’ So, that's kind of when I started to show more reservation about things and kind of pull back. Because I was the wild one in our younger years. Luckily, there's no video or pictures of that kind of stuff, right? But I was the wilder one, right? Smoking Angel Dust and shit like that. Ridin’ around with illegal guns and stuff. And then when he decided he wanted to go outside and be outside, as we say now, I was like, ‘Well, both of us can't be out here wildin’. That's not going to work. And I've been wildin’ for the last four or five years so if he decides it's his turn to come out, then I'm going to go in.’ And so that's kind of how the dynamic shifts. And this is the only idea of UGK that most people have. So, you really have to be like a day one person to really know how that dynamic shifts at a certain point.
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Just before we wrap this up, I have to ask you about the situation with Tory Lanez. You didn’t hesitate to come to Megan Thee Stallion’s defense, and it seemed like you were one of the few male rappers to speak out in condemnation of it. What was your reaction to the hip-hop communities reaction to the alleged shooting? Especially after the protests for Breonna Taylor.
Well, I think it's multi-layered. Right? Like, initially, like many people are hesitant to get into other people's business. Like, this was a domestic issue between a couple. And so, most people tend to stay out of those. Things can get very touchy. There's a lot of instances where people will insert themselves into these situations, like trying to defend a woman in an abusive relationship. And you do all that, you put yourself in harm's way to defend this woman and then the woman for one reason or another goes back to that same relationship. So, people are more and more hesitant to even assert themselves into those situations. And even less so when we're dealing with black women. Black women are probably the least protected human being on the planet. But Black women throw themselves in a line of fire for their men, their families and their community, time and time and time again. Anytime there's a movement or an initiative to help better the Black conditions in this country, Black women are on the front line. Always. We have to make sure that we are standing up and supporting and defending our Black women. Because if Black men don't say, ‘don't touch our black women,’ white men and white women will do and act however they feel or choose against our women. And those days are done. Those days are done like we're not going to stand for that anymore. Black women are essential and vital to the Black family, the Black community, and women in general. It's very important that they be heard, they be seen, they be respected, and they be protected.
"My wife was friends with Megan's father. And so when we've been around Megan, my wife has been in a position to kind of tell her things about her father that she maybe didn't know because her father died when she was very young. He was murdered. And I let her know, like, as you move through hip hop, things can get crazy. Every now and then, if you find yourself in one of these crazy situations, don't worry about it. We will protect you. You know, I’m an elder in the city, we're gonna protect you. So, if you have some issues out here, don't concentrate on it. Don't focus on it too much. Just keep doing what it is you need to do."
And to go even deeper with Megan, my wife was friends with Megan's father. And so when we've been around Megan, my wife has been in a position to kind of tell her things about her father that she maybe didn't know because her father died when she was very young. He was murdered. And I let her know, like, as you move through hip hop, things can get crazy. Every now and then, if you find yourself in one of these crazy situations, don't worry about it. We will protect you. You know, I’m an elder in the city, we're gonna protect you. So, if you have some issues out here, don't concentrate on it. Don't focus on it too much. Just keep doing what it is you need to do.
Now, I understand her need to vocalize her concerns with reference to this story and situation. Because it speaks to the larger issue at hand. Particularly, at the moment when looking at the Breanna Taylor situation. Normally I don't get involved with other people's situations, but because of my relationship with her, who I am in the city, and what I told her I would do, I felt it was only right for me to speak up for her behalf at that moment.
I mean, people are usually waiting for that first person to say something, and then more and more people will step to the table. I feel like if I hadn't said anything, I'm not sure how much people would have even spoken on this issue. And if my relationship with Tory Lanez is damaged, then so be it. We have to protect our Black women and any Black man that doesn't feel the same way is not my brother.
"If my relationship with Tory Lanez is damaged, then so be it. We have to protect our Black women and any Black man that doesn't feel the same way is not my brother."
Do you think he’ll ever be able to perform in Houston?
Maybe not Houston. I don't think it'd be easy for him to do shows in many places. But, hell. People still went to R. Kelly concerts, so I can't really say what people will and won't do.
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Final question. I’m very appreciative of your time in the past two days. But with the year doing to an end, what’s your prediction for 2021? Do you think things are gonna be a little bit better?
I would like to believe that 2021 would be better than in 2020. When you look at everything that happened like you look at the whole year in its totality, right? You would like to believe and have hope that 2021 is going to be better. But I look at a lot of old footage from 2019 and we were very ready to be done with 2019. We were literally saying, ‘I'm over 2019. 2020, bring it on.’ In retrospect, I think we all would have loved to have maybe four or five more months in 2019 than going into 2020. I mean, but you always have to have hope that it's going to get better, right? Whether or not I actually think it's going to get better, I'm not sure. But I think we all actively work to make 2021 a better year, right? And a big part of that was this election. So I think as long as we make the effort to do better and to go further and to lift each other up -- not just in America -- but in the world, in general, we put ourselves in a better position to have a better year next year. It's gonna take everybody to turn everything around. Because there's been so much damage to the connectivity of human beings in this world right now. People have been trying to find any reason to separate themselves from people, right? We just got to get back to this base notion that we're all human beings, and that we all respect the value of life. And we build up from there. I mean, things will inherently be better. And if they're not actually better, we're going to be better at dealing with it.