Rap duos typically come and go in this game we call hip-hop. However, Bun B and Pimp C are not the typical case. With a professional career spanning over 17 years, this Port Arthur based powerhouse has been the backbone of southern sound since before kids were writing on their shades with white out. Their newest and final installment as a group, UGK 4 Life, serves as the exclamation point of their union.
As fellow members of the press grubbed on the best BBQ New York has to offer, Bun B shared some insight on the project before popping the CD into Jive's massive sound system.
"This is the first time I had to do so much on an album," the rapper admits. "I usually would just come to the studio, drop my verse and C would take care of everything else that had to be done with the record." This statement set the tone of the album before he even pushed play. The emotion that came with it was even that much more noticeable. Although this was Bun B's first time in the driver's seat of a UGK album, Pimp C's creative direction roared through the bass heavy sound system.
On "Purse Come First," featuring Big Gipp, the production was vintage Pimp C. From the melodic baseline to the southern tinged jazz guitar that weaved in and out of the politically themed content -- ranging from the war in Iraq to the rigged war on drugs. Bun B drops heavy lyrics aiming at the American public, warning them that they have been hustled by the government out of their tax money.
On the Corey Mo produced "Everybody Wanna Ball," UGK takes aim at the poor spending habits of their peers over a dreary organ melody that sounds like it is mourning over the careers of some of the big chain wearing "ballers" that we see popping bottles in the club. The Kings then take aim at their female fan base with the soulful "Feelin' You," also produced by Corey Mo. This track balances the album out with Pimp C singing better than most of today's auto-tuned crooners. The production was fitting to the obvious content of the song, and once again Bun B did not stray from the beat with his smooth and consistent delivery.
This would not be a complete UGK album without a cut such as "Steel Your Mind," which is simply a pimpin' for dummies type of manual that has C's backhand all over it. Produced by Steve Below and accompanied by the legendary Too Short, this guide to managerial sexploitation gives definitive insight on how to "take over her mind, once you get the mind then you got the body".
One noticeable misstep, though, was the Akon produced and featured "Hard As Hell". This up-tempo attempt at a club banger stopped all previous head boppers and made listeners look at each other as if they were waiting for a peer's approval, but to no avail. The song simply talks about a curvy stripper making a guy's jeans fit a little bit tighter than usual. Akon sounds as if he tried that dreaded Styrofoam cup for the first time and was forced to belt out a hook and recycle his "I Wanna F*** You" instrumental for the sake of an album filler.
Back to the UGK that we are familiar with, "The Game Been Good to Me" produced by Pimp C, closes out an album that highlights the career of arguably the most loyal duo in the game. Pimp sounds as if he is speaking ill of someone very particular in his verses, while Bun celebrates a career that has allowed them to live a comfortable lifestyle -- something that is to be appreciated in today's harsh economic meltdown.
UGK fans worldwide will be more than pleased with the 16 tracks in their final installment. Although Chad Butler is in the big studio upstairs, his brother will always remind us that it is UGK 4 Life.