During a recent appearance on The Steven Sulley Study podcast, Bun B shared that his late rhyme partner was initially against the idea of UGK appearing on JAY-Z‘s 2000 single, “Big Pimpin’” out of respect for 2Pac.
“So, 2Pac was not a JAY-Z fan, this is very well-known,” the Trill Burgers founder said. “2Pac was not a JAY-Z fan in his career, and when there was a West Coast, East Coast beef, he felt JAY-Z was part of the collective that were his enemies. JAY-Z was good [friends] with Biggie, good friends with Biggie, who 2Pac felt betrayed him when he got shot.
“JAY-Z had been introduced to UGK by a big DJ in New York named Clark Kent. And he’s like, ‘I like these guys, I wanna work with them,’” Bun continued. “And Pimp C did not want to fuck with people that 2Pac did not fuck with, because he thought 2Pac was the best judge of character.”
The late Port Arthur legend weighed all of this up when JAY-Z reached out to request UGK’s involvement on what would be the best performing single from his fourth studio album, Vol. 3… Life and Times of S. Carter.
“When that first call came from JAY-Z, we were at the house in Atlanta, and [Pimp C] looked up at the wall. And he just stared at the picture. And I’m like, ‘What are you doing?’ And he said, ‘I’m thinking what would 2Pac do right now? And 2Pac wouldn’t want me to fuck with him. That’s why I said, I’m not coming to New York.”
Jay’s unwillingness to leave New York to make the collaboration happen only served to cement Pimp C’s reluctance, Bun explained. Ironically, “Big Pimpin’” remains UGK’s best performing single – both as lead and featured artists – and the only song of theirs to crack the top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.
Bun attributed Pimp C’s feelings about the situation to the fact that both he and Pac held those around them to very high standards, refusing to associate with anyone that they felt were not people of high character. But Oakland rap pioneer Spice 1 said there was another regional and cultural factor.
“It was crazy because on our side, over here on the West, all we seen was Pac go out there and come back shot,” Spice 1 told The Art of Dialogue last month. “And that’s what we reacted off of in the Midwest and in the West. Half the people from California be from Texas and shit. Everybody was rocking together. And when that shit happened, it hit everybody. So yeah, we had a lot of questions. It was a lot of tension going on, a lot of confusion.”
During his conversation with Sulley, Bun also explained how delt with the death of his musical partner in 2007. He recalled going through a very deep depression and turning to alcohol to battle his grief. He said wife’s encouragement helped him pushed through what he called “one of the darkest moments of [his] life.”
Ultimately, he found motivation in the music and the desire to keep Pimp C’s legacy alive.
“I started looking at things differently and realized, ‘Yeah, he’s gone,” Bun explained. “But you’ve honored him before. You can still honor him now with the music. And you know how to keep the music going because we just did it while he was in prison.’
“And things started to become clearer,” he went on. “And I’m like, ‘Look, this is just where we are. We just have to be thankful that we have everything we need internally – strength-wise, spiritually – to move forward.”
Picking up the honor in Times Square, an ecstatic Bun B posed alongside GMA co-host Michael Strahan with a trophy in one hand and a $10,000 check courtesy of the morning show in the other.