Bun B is like the Ray Lewis of rap. Like Lewis does with football players, the future Rap Hall of Famer has mentored dozens of rappers throughout the years on the ins-and-outs of the music game while maintaining an impeccable recording resume and top-tier lyricism.
So Bun B was a natural selection to serve as a mentor for the just-wrapped Red Bull Skooled tour through Texas.
The Trill OG met up-and-coming Texas artists Kydd, AD.d+, The Niceguys, Worldwide and DJ Sober in San Antonio and rode on the Red Bull bus with them to Corpus Christie, schooling the artists on the workings of the music industry before rocking a sharp headlining set with them at the House of Rock.
Before he hit the stage, Bun B explained the importance of giving back to the next generation of artists and reveals how a legendary rapper helped UGK along its way.
Words with Bun B
RedBullUSA.com: You rode on the bus with the guys from San Antonio to Corpus Christi, giving them a lot of lessons and allowing them to ask you questions. In the beginning of your career, did anyone you looked up to provide a similar type of opportunity to you?
Bun B: Yeah, definitely. Too $hort. He’s a person that Pimp C and I met early in our career and he really offered himself up to us as far as advice or needing to ask questions on how to deal with the label. He always made himself available to us. To this day, I still consider him a big part of why UGK was able to be successful and sustain as a group and as a brand.
Do you think it was $hort in particular because you were both weren’t from New York and you were both on Jive Records?
Absolutely. I think both of those things came into play. The Bay Area and Houston, we have a lot in common in the way people live. A lot of people from Oakland and San Francisco, their parents are from the South, so there’s a lot of kinship there, both spoken and unspoken. They had to fight for their identity [in the rap game] being so close to LA but not really being a part of that scene.
They had to sketch out their own path. We definitely paid attention to it. Same thing with E-40, as well. These are guys that are very business-minded and didn’t compromise the music for the business and didn’t compromise the business for the music. That’s the kind of people that we wanted to be.
What was a specific lesson that Too $hort taught you?
I remember one time we were doing a show in Cleveland in ’94, ‘95 and a big fight broke out in the crowd. We thought the show was going to shut down so we got off the stage. $hort was standing on the side of the stage watching. He was like, “Nah, get back on the stage. You’ve got to keep rapping no matter what happens. Just keep rapping. You control the energy.” So we went back out there and started rapping again. The crowd eventually came back. It was very ill.
What was a particularly insightful or noteworthy question one of the mentees asked you on Red Bull Skooled?
One of the guys asked about me and Pimp and how we would deal with other people trying to appropriate our brand. You just have to be careful of who you let touch what you’ve built. You can’t let everybody get a co-sign just because they’re hot. It’s got to be something real.
On Red Bull Skooled, the artists are looking to you as a mentor.
"You’ve got to give these kids a lot of credit because they want to learn."
What did you learn on the tour?
You’ve got to give these kids a lot of credit because they want to learn. I think a lot of people like to assume that the younger generation thinks that they know a lot. It’s not that they think they know a lot. They just want to be recognized for what they have accomplished and what they do know. At the same time, all these cats have been very humble and asking a lot of questions. They’re not scared to come to me and ask me about different things and I think that’s important. You’ve got to want to know. If you don’t want to know, then you won’t ever know.
Why was Red Bull Skooled important for you to do?
Because this wasn’t available for me. If this was available for me, I really would have really gone out of my way to be part of something like this. Like if I could have got on a bus with Rakim or somebody back in ’92 when I was coming up, I would have jumped at the chance. Not saying that I’m Rakim by any means, but if there was somebody I could have gotten game from, done a show with and get paid to do it, that would have been a great look.