"Hip-hop started with the whole bravado/braggadocio thing," says Bun B, the Grammy-nominated rapper and former UGK member. "But now it's gotten more to the point of intimidation. If I intimidate you enough through my music, then I don't have to brag about myself when I see you. Everyone is trying to paint such a large picture of themselves. People get caught up in that. But everybody is not the man."
Trill O.G., Bun B's latest, is 16 tracks as wise and collected as they are rebellious and fun. The album pays homage to hip-hop's past with songs featuring previously unheard verses by his UGK partner, the late Pimp C, and 2Pac, as well as tipping the proverbial hat to the future with appearances by Drake and others. From the party song to the deep song, the uplifting song to the gangster song, listeners experience the sweeping soundtrack to a life complete with protagonists, antagonists, conflicts and resolutions. Trill O.G. isn't just an album of songs, it's a ride, a trip, a movie — start to finish.
L.A. WEEKLY: We live very much in this iPod Shuffle culture now, song to song to song, as opposed to sitting down and listening to an album in its entirety.
BUN B: I've been very lucky to be around long enough to see great concept albums. A real album in its truest sense should have a theme behind it and the theme should, even if it's the undercurrent, still make sense through every song. When you have these disjointed songs thrown at random on an album, then it doesn't really give the listener anything to experience, other than just the song. Not only does Trill O.G. have to make sense on its own, this album also has to make sense in terms of the three albums and the trilogy. That's something that wasn't necessarily frontal lobe [laughs], but it's subconscious. You're constantly thinking, how's this gonna stand up? I'd like someone to have a night where they can go in at, like, 7 o'clock, start with Trill, go to II Trill, go to Trill O.G., and at the end of that the party's over — a full experience.
With the song on this album, "Right Now," that features Pimp C and 2Pac, how did you deal with putting together posthumous work from people you love?
There's no such thing as it being easy. When people leave you that you love and care about, you never stop missing them. Every day you find better ways to deal with it. We're at the point now where it's not as tender an issue, as far as dealing with Pimp C. For me, the music ... I can hear Pimp C verses and it doesn't really make me overemotional. To the average listener it would, because to a certain extent that's almost all they know, him through the music. Whereas I knew the person. For me the touchy moments come through real-life experiences. When I see things that I know he would have loved to do, like, "Pimp would have loved this hotel," "Pimp would have loved this club," "Pimp would have loved that girl," know what I'm saying? Those are the moments. When I see a dad with his daughter and I know how much Pimp loved his little girl. Or when I see a son and a father out playing basketball and I know how much he loved his boys and how much they love him. Those are the moments that get to me, the real-life moments. The music kind of makes me laugh because this dude said some of the craziest things ever.
And the music is eternal.
Absolutely. Every day gets a little bit easier to deal with. But I know for some people it's still fresh. The music takes you back to a good place.
Trill O.G. is now available on Universal/Fontana.