For Texas rap legend Bun B, dropping gems is second nature. After a short musical hiatus, hip-hop is buzzing about his homecoming, with last week’s “Gametime” single release.

Still, while the Trill OG is gearing up for the grand reveal of his forthcoming project and Houston’s sixth “Bernard ‘Bun B’ Freeman Day,” it’s clear his influence extends beyond the studio. With nearly three decades in the game, he likes the music — not the message — to be chopped and screwed.

After his performance at Brooklyn’s Grits and Biscuits, Bun B  spoke with Billboard about Pimp C’s legacy, Bun B Day, his new record “Gametime” and more.

It’s been four years since you released Trill OG: The Epilogue. How did it feel when your latest single “Gametime” dropped?

It felt good. In the new state of making music and recording, “Gametime” was literally the first song I wrote. It’s actually like a year and a half old. I’ve been ready to get back in [music] for that long. I’m molding my craft again. Making songs for radio and clubs is one thing — we can phone that in — but I’m a lyricist. I’m expected to speak about the current state of affairs. So this is the lyrical part. We will be getting to the current state of affairs shortly.

Parquet Courts’ “Captive of the Sun” [which features Bun B] was a different record. How did it come about?

That’s that 409 [Texas area code] link-up. We are both “golden triangle” boys. Austin [Brown of Parquet Courts] is from Beaumont; I’m from Port Arthur.  If you have a strong enough arm, you can throw a baseball from one to the other. I see young artists from the region, not just rap artists, and try to make a push. I want to support all I can. I had no idea I’d be able to support that musically, but we found a common space. It worked out. We debuted it on the [Stephen] Colbert show, of all places. It was beautiful. I thank Austin for the opportunity to work with him and perform with him on TV.  And I congratulate him because he just got married.

What’s your best UGK memory?

The initial days of Pimp C and me — a lot of people don’t know that Pimp and I initially didn’t get along in high school. We didn’t know each other. There was a football game where we confronted each other, about preconceived notions we had of one another. And we were both wrong. From that point on, we became very close friends. I always remember, like it was yesterday — the day that he and I realized we were close to [being] the same person and about the same things. The next day, I went to his house and listened to some music. It was him and me ever since. 

What do you want the world to know about Pimp C?

Pimp C was a great man, not just a great musician. He was a great producer, rapper and friend. He really cared a lot about Southern hip-hop and artists. He wanted us to be recognized as the professionals, musicians, producers, craftsmen and businessmen we are. He wanted the South to get credit. I think he can look down on it and smile, and see so many different regions, people and movements he helped to give birth to.

What did Too Hard to Swallow Bun B think about the music industry when UGK was first coming up in 1992?

He didn’t really understand the music industry. That was a wild time for us, because we just wanted to make music, put it out and see if people liked it. We didn’t really understand the intricacies of business contracts in publishing, publicists and all that kind of stuff. We just wanted to make music and represent Port Arthur, Texas.  All the other stuff that came with it — the baggage and drama — was necessary. It was never anticipated, but somehow, we persevered.

What do you think about the music industry now?

It’s worse, actually. [Laughs] But I’m much more informed. I’m much more prepared for it, but it scares me to think of the young artists that come into the game now. [They] aren’t as prepared for it as I am. Yeah, there are a lot of opportunities to make money.

But in any place where there is an opportunity for someone to make money, there are people that live their entire lives to stand around those areas — and leech. It’s real easy to say you can do something and provide services in the industry when you really can’t — i.e. radio promotion, or sh– like that. I just feel bad. These young cats make a lot of money, really, really fast. I just hope that they have really smart people around them, that they can trust, that love them, and care about them, more than just being an artist.

What can we anticipate from you next?

Next up will be some music. Bun B Day in Houston is August 30th. I’ll be dropping a project the day before. I won’t be giving the name away. There’ll be some music for people to listen to. The song “Gametime” probably won’t even be on that [project]. This is just to let people know I’m still here, and I can still get down like I’ve always gotten down. We’ll be dropping the real single in the next two to three weeks or so. This was just a teaser to let people know Bun B was back. They’re not even ready for the songs I just did a month ago. I have to peddle this stuff out accordingly. I don’t want to hurt nobody.

By Bianca Alysse Mercado for Billboard

Photo: Roger Kisby/Getty Images

Bun B poses for a portrait backstage at The Fader Fort presented by Converse during SXSW on March 16, 2013 in Austin, Texas. 


About The Author

Bianca Alysse is a creatively driven Bronx-born writer and editor. Before becoming The Knockturnal‘s music editor she served as Latina‘s creative coordinator and was a contributor at Billboard. The Boricua scribe has a lengthy resume in the music industry and has penned for Universal Music Publishing Group, Epic Records, G.O.O.D. Music, Compound Entertainment, Artistry & Récords, and Arcade Creative Group. Her work has been seen on platforms like VIBE, mitú, TIDAL, Remezcla, and behind the scenes at New York Fashion Week. As an independent contractor, she has written for Sony Music Entertainment’s global business affairs department, Warner Music Group, and currently Roc Nation.

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