Bun B was recently interviewed by Daniel Isenberg for the The Tanning Effect website. The interview is quite lengthy, ranging on topics from the neighbourhood he grew up in, working with Jive Records, and what UGK's biggest hit record was, but here are some of the highlights:
On UGK's Biggest Hit:
Let’s fast forward a bit in your career to your hit record with Jay-Z, “Big Pimpin’.” Did you notice the demographic of your fanbase start to change after that song and video was released? Did you start getting recognized more on the streets?
Bun B: Yes, but it wasn’t a racial thing. I think it was just because it was [a big video]. UGK never really had any visuals. “Big Pimpin’” was the first time that anyone had ever really seen us. We had a lot of people that knew our music, but had never seen our faces because we never had any real videos. Ridin’ Dirty went gold, and we didn’t shoot one video for that album. They even shot a commercial without us
When did you notice a shift and have that first “tanning” moment?
I saw more white fans gravitate towards us after [our song with Three 6 Mafia] “Sippin’ On Some Sizzurp.” I think it was a big crossover moment for us and [them]. It was the beginning of [both of us] moving towards a broader audience. We didn’t really want to accept it at the time.
Why do you think that particular song had such crossover appeal?
It was a jammin’ song, and that usually helps. The song was different, the video was different, and it was something that was absolutely brand new. It wasn’t something people had been hearing about.
We never spoke about what it was, because we weren’t promoting [the actual drink when we made the song]. So when we were asked about what it was in interviews or something, we would just say “no comment” or make something up. I wouldn’t tell people what it was. It wasn’t something we were trying to promote like, “Hey, we’re on ‘Sizzurp’ and you should be on ‘Sizzurp’ too, and this is what it is and this is how you should go get it.” Because that’s the first thing that people [assume]. It was kind of like when Dr. Dre’s The Chronic came out, and people wanted to know, “What is this ‘Chronic’?” We were already doing it, so the song was really for people like us who were already fuckin’ with it, but it became this big phenomenon.
On Asher Roth:
I interviewed Asher Roth recently, and he mentioned a moment that was very memorable for him, which was when you came backstage at one of his shows and showed him love. What is it about him that you think has allowed him to be accepted in hip-hop?
I think it’s about people being true to themselves. Asher is who he is. The label used the most marketable music he had to get him known by as many people as possible, but I think every other thing that I’ve heard from him [outside of “I Love College”] is exactly who he is. If you listen to songs like “Lion’s Roar,” you realize that the kid is kicking raps. He’s a lyricist.
In hip-hop in 2011, if you portray yourself in a certain way, I don’t care if you’re black, white, Latino, Asian, I don’t give a fuck what you are, if it’s fake, hip-hop is going to call you out on it. In terms of white fans and white listeners, anyone that’s in a position to sell records in the music industry knows that the majority of records being sold are to people with the most disposable income. Throughout hip-hop’s history, the majority of those people have been white. The white person has most certainly had an impact on the culture because it has decided who is who.
But is it different now that there are so many white rappers and producers actually making the music as opposed to just purchasing it?
Not at all. If you look at it at as a whole today, the listener is becoming the the practitioner. There are more and more people making music specifically for a certain group of people.
On the N-word:
I think it’s time to have that conversation. We’ve been able to talk about everything in America, but we still skate around race. It’s 2011, and they repealed “Don’t ask, don’t tell” so that you can be gay in the military, but we still can’t talk about race.
Why, if we’ve come so far with so many other cultural and human rights issues, is it still so hard to talk about race in America?
Because there’s race issues within races. And until those are resolved, we can’t handle issues outside the races.
Is that why there is still such controversy surrounding the “N” word? Because black people still disagree with each other about whether or not it is appropriate to use it?
No, I think you have a stance on whether it’s right or wrong to use it and that’s it. There is no middle ground when you start using terms that already had prior associations. You can’t just throw away the meaning of the word like that.
Read the entire interview here