Posse Revival: Country Cousins
Shortly after Pimp C’s death I talked to legendary Meters guitarist and UGK collaborator Leo Nocentelli about his memory. With the release of UGK 4 Life it seems like a good time to revisit the long unavailable blog post. This originally ran on 1/18/08 as part of the since retired Posse On Blogway column at that other site.
Last week I told you that the JB’s may have been the greatest funk band of all time. The existence of the Meters is the cause for that indecision. The influential New Orleans troop perfected the art of dense swamp water funk for both their own records and in collaboration with similar minded NO stalwarts like Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, and sibling offshoot The Neville Brothers.
Though many a great hip hop producer – Dr. Dre, Premier, Marley Marl, etc. – took note of their sound (and loops from their catalog), only the late Pimp C truly immersed himself in it. Pimp’s trademark organ lines drew heavily on Art Neville’s rolling B-3, and he linked directly with guitarist, Leo Nocentelli. As Bun B told MTV News, Pimp’s stance was “I want this sound on the guitar and nobody can really play this sound on the guitar but this man.” As such, Nocentelli would contribute extensively to their sophomore record Super Tight as well as later songs like “Diamonds & Wood” and “Let Me See It.” I recently spoke to Leo about those sessions and the memory of his belated friend:
“I first met him years ago. [At the time] him and Bun B had some notoriety but not that much. He called me and we did a session at his house in Port Arthur. Just a regular house with a small room with a little studio in it. He played some tracks and had sampled a lot of the Meters stuff. Even though he had the samples he wanted me to play live. So a lot of the stuff that he sampled, I redid the guitar on ‘em. He had hired two other musicians from New Orleans, a keyboard player by the name of David Tornkanowsky and a bass player by the name of Chris Severin. And we three went up there and did one of the CDs [Super Tight]. He took a personal liking to me and, plus, he was a Meters fanatic. He would come up with songs that I forgot, and different guitar riffs and significant things about the song and I’d say ‘I don’t even remember that song.’ But he knew ‘em all, I guess because of the fact that Port Arthur’s not that far from Louisiana… So It was effortless for me to go in with him and just throw down some riffs on a bass or a drum pattern that he might have. It was like talking.
The last time I saw Pimp… I have a picture of he and myself in my house [from a few] months before he died. He was just over here. He came up to LA, I think, he was mixing the last UGK project. He told me he was in town, so I said, ‘well come over and get some food.’ He came over and we sat down for about three or four hours. Then after that a funny thing happened. About two weeks after he left my house, he called me up about five o clock in the morning. My wife woke me up and she said ‘Pimp C on the phone.’ I said ‘it’s five o clock in the morning.’ ‘He said he wanted me to wake you up.’ So I woke up, the first thing he told me, he used to call me Mr. Leo, he said he was getting ready to embark into a big production deal with some people and he wanted me to be involved. He said that he was moving into an apartment here, so I said ‘well cool man, let me know, I want to be involved with it, anything you want Pimp, just call me.’ And that’s the last time I talked to him. The next thing, somebody called me and told me they found Pimp in the hotel. And when I heard that happened, man, I was devastated. I still am, you know. He was just a beautiful dude, man. He was good a friend and I will miss him for the rest of my life.”