RIP Pimp C – Interview Pt. 2
(If you missed it, click here for part 1.)
N: So this small crew basically built up Port Arthur rap from scratch?
C: We just wanted to be a part of rap, and we happened to live in a town called Port Arthur. There were a couple of little groups before us that made demos, that wasn’t trying to make no records. They had names like The Fresh Four, which was DMD’s original group, The Hardy Boys, which was Boomtown, the video director’s group which I ended up getting in at the time. You had certain people who was getting down on the demo level. Back then DMD was at the forefront of all of that. He a little access to a little bit more studio equipment than the rest of us. He was a DJ and he was good at it. And at that time, rap was really dependent on the DJ. He could scratch, he could mix real good and he could program drums a little bit, but he couldn’t play no keyboards
N: That’s where you came into play.
N: So when did you link up with Bun B and start forming what would be come UGK?
C: That was years later. We was in Junior High School together and he was friends with a cat, Mitchell Queen, actually me and that cat was the original UGK and Bun was his buddy. A few years later, because I had been around DMD and soaked up some things from him… at one time [DMD] had stopped making music. A lot of the original dudes had stopped, they graduated from high school and either went to college or just got tired of this shit. They didn’t see no future in niggas rapping in a little town called Port Arthur. So when all those niggas quit, when Boomtown quit and DMD quit, that left me. I was the only little motherfucker that had been down with the old motherfuckers. So when everybody quit I was the last one left to make beats and do this shit. ‘Cause all the old niggas that was my leaders had stopped rapping or making beats or DJing. So that left me. I still had all the equipment that we had accumulated over the years. Them niggas didn’t want it. They was like “Fuck that rap shit, I’m goin to school or I’m goin’ to get this job.” I still was in high school, but I could scratch, I could play keyboards, I had watched DMD loop them records with that turntable. And for the most part rappers don’t know how to make their own music, so anybody in the town that was trying to get into the rap shit, they had to come to me.
So Bun was in a group with another dude and they came to me to make some music for ‘em. And that’s how they started hanging out at my spot. So I start producing for Bun’s group with the other cat and somewhere along the lines we ended up merging the two groups together. And then the same things that happened to them other niggas happened to the two niggas that was in the group with me and Bun. Them niggas just didn’t believe that it would work, man. See half of the battle with anything is believing that you can do it. They didn’t believe that they could be rappers or that they could make money or that it was serious. So when time came for them to do other careers that they thought was gonna pan out for them, they took them opportunities. And I can’t blame them for taking it. But me and Bun stuck with the shit. So when we looked up one day it wasn’t nothing but me and him. And that’s how this group was formed.
We ended up going back and taking a name that me and the first dude had formed years earlier. We had changed our name from UGK and everything. Me and Bun ended up reaching back and grabbed an old name that me and this other dude had used years ago. Wasn’t nobody using it, because wasn’t no group right there. It was just a name, it could’ve been the name of his old group. But it happened to be UGK, we took it and ran with it. And that’s how this group that you see today.
N: Being that you came from a musical family, what type of response did your Dad have when he heard you making these rap records?
C: My father wasn’t with this rap shit at first. Let me tell you why. The same syndrome them niggas [DMD, Boomtown, etc] had is the same syndrome my family had. They didn’t think that a motherfucker could eat off this shit. And my father wanted better things for me in life than he had when he was coming up. It’s natural for you to want better things for your child. And he didn’t see this shit as no stable career for me to be going into. Not that he was trying to stifle my music, because every year, when Christmas came around, a lot of times he was the one buying me the equipment that I was making this shit with. But he wanted to see me go to college and do some better things than he was able to do in life. So my old man was not with this shit. He couldn’t see that this shit was gonna win. And frankly, I can’t blame him.
But my stepfather he came to me one day. My Mom was upset that I had dropped out of school to chase this music. I done got into it with my Dad over it. But my Stepfather comes to me one day and he say “You know the problem with that rap shit? The problem with that shit is that it’s noise.” So I got defensive, because that’s what we do. “What you mean it’s noise?” He say “Naw… listen to what I’m telling you boy, that shit is noise, ain’t no music in that shit. You put some music in that shit and you might be able to get paid.” So I thought about that, right? And at this time you gotta realize that we was listening to Public Enemy, The Bomb Squad, a bunch of sound effects playing in cadence with one another. The sampling thing was going strong right then, so yeah, it sounded noisey to him. So he said “Put some music in that shit, you know you know how to read music. Put some goddamn melody in that shit and maybe you can get some money.”
N: I guess that was the birth of the UGK sound?
C: Well, I took his suggestion and I put some music in this shit. I started putting some basslines in the shit. It ain’t like I invented it, Too Short’s been playing his music for years. Niggas had music in their shit, it’s just at that time that wasn’t popular. And I told you I had an organ when I was little, I went into the closet and dusted off the old organ and I came up with something that was closer to blues and soul than what was going on at the time. Originally we had a lot of reggae influence in our music. We was mixing roots and culture samples with hip hop drums. We had the idea that that’s how we was going to take this game by storm, it really didn’t happen like that. But the last remnants of the era was a song called “Cocaine In The Back of The Ride.” which has Bob Marley samples in it.
But we ended up going in another direction. I took a different turn in my music. My music started getting influenced by what Dr. Dre was doing, with the basslines and things that was goin on with the NWA records. So you see, it’s a lot of people that was doing the same thing, putting music in the records. Dre been putting music in the records. Too Short been putting music in the record. But when he told it to me like that “get that noise out of there, make some music” I took that shit to heart and I ran with it. That’s the best advice I ever got. Later on in life I was able to thank him for that advice, before he died I was able to tell the man “You was right, man.”
N: What did he say when he started hearing your more musical productions?
C: For one thing, he could see I was getting money every week. I was a little young motherfucker playing with a big bank roll. So it made sense to him. And after the paper started rolling in, my real Father came on in. He seen this shit was serious. And then my Mother, having a business mind saw that we needed some guidance on a business level. So she stepped in. It became a family affair later on, but we had to prove that we could do it. We was already signed to Jive by the time these people got on. My Daddy got on before that. His way of doing this is by going “Hey man, let me get one of them t-shirts?” and right then I knew he would cosign me.
N: How did you go from making tapes to signing with Big Tyme?
C: Actually the tape that Big Tyme signed us on had all four of us on it, from the group that had merged together. Actually the tape was a combination of songs that we had been making for about four or five years in several different groups that Big Tyme heard. I had went to the mall one day with some motherfuckers I knew, I rolled out with a nigga named Marlon Banks and these two broads from Port Arthur in a hooptie, came to Houston and went to King’s Flea Market. We pulled up on the flea market and went up in there and this dude had a record store. And he had a sign outside the record store that he was looking for a group. So shit, I always walked around with a demo tape in my pocket ‘cause I didn’t know who I was gonna meet. So I went up to a motherfucker and played it for him. He actually wasn’t there, his wife was there, she was like “let me go get my husband,” that was Big Russell [Washington] who owned Big Tyme and that was the start of that shit.
So he put the money up and we started going to the studio and recording every week, trying to get it going. I figured we in the big time now, lets go and get some producers that know what they doing, but everybody we went to get with fucked us out our money. The studios were fuckin’ us out our money, the producers were fuckin us out our money, givin’ us trash and when we looked around we didn’t have no more money. So Big Tyme, not having no more money came to us and said “What you wanna do – we either gonna stop recording or we gonna sell this goddamn dope and keep going to the studio every weekend?” We didn’t have no choice, so we started hustling. But not to buy cars and not to buy clothes. We started hustling to go to the studio. We’d hustle all week and at the end of the week we’d go to the studio every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. And we did that until we got the record done. And you gotta understand this work was being sold in Port Arthur, not in Houston, he didn’t have nowhere to sell in Houston so the work would come from Houston to Port Arthur. And everybody had a job to do. Bun was in transportation, I was in packaging. The other motherfucker was in delivery. And we made that shit work and go the money to put us through the studio and get the record done.
Everything was cool until the record got done and the motherfucker hit. That’s when this nigga [Russell] started talking like he was our boss. Like, “nigga we all sold crack to get this goddamn record done, what the fuck is you talking about about? You fitta give it us this little percentage over here and you fittin to take the largest [percentage] when we all risked our motherfucking lives to put this shit together.” That was the breaking point with us and Russell. We all hustled to put that shit down, and we felt like we all should’ve had ownership in this shit.
N: You should’ve been equal partners.
C: Exactly and he was a few years older than us and he had a few people influencing him. He wasn’t that much older than us, he was 23 years old. I was 16 or 17. He was our OG at the time, a 23 year old OG. So he made a lot of mistakes. He had a lot of people in his ear telling him what to do or whatever, how to handle us. And instead of him going by what his heart and his head told him to do, he went with what people was telling him. ‘Cause he felt they had his best interest at heart. In all honesty and all fairness, I can’t blame Russell for all the mistakes that he made. He was young. We all was young. But that’s what made us move around from Big Tyme Records.
Click here for part three…