still trill after 25

Houston's hip-hop icon Bun B reflects on the 25th anniversary of UGK's legendary album

Houston hip-hop icon Bun B on 25th anniversary of his legendary album

Bun B black shirt black hat
Bun B looks back on Ridin' Dirty, UGK's historic and influential album. Photo courtesy of Bun B

Twenty-five years ago this Friday, July 30, the duo of Bun B and Pimp C — better known as UGK (Underground Kingz) — released their third album Ridin' Dirty.

Despite not having any singles or music videos for listeners to sample, it became their best-selling album, moving 70,000 copies in its first week and 850,000 copies sold to date. It has also become one of the most influential hip-hop albums to come out of Texas.

"If a hundred people approach me," Bun B tells CultureMap, "ninety-five of them will immediately go to Ridin' Dirty."

However, Bun B says he would've loved to have some singles and videos out there. "We simply didn't get any support from [Jive Records]," he laments. "UGK wanted what everybody else wanted. We wanted big videos, big marketing campaigns, tour buses and all of that. But our record company never believed in us enough to do that kind of stuff... We didn't want to not have videos for Ridin' Dirty. Pimp actually wanted a video for every song on Ridin' Dirty."

Though Jive didn't give Bun and his late collaborator Pimp C (who died in 2007 from an accidental overdose of codeine and promethazine — aka "purple drank") the major publicity push they wanted, they still dropped an album full of vivid, inventive wordplay and funky beats.

With Pimp handling most of the production, Bun says his partner made sure that his style of hip-hop funk (where the guitars were performed by Leo Nocentelli, of the funk group The Meters) wasn't an imitation of the G-funk other West Coast cats were doing.

"Pimp C was actually trying to avoid any of that West Coast/Dr. Dre/G-funk influence, because everybody started putting heavy synths in their record and trying to imitate that sound," Bun B says. "Pimp was trying to be as far away from that as possible."

If Pimp worked on the beats being distinctive, Bun worked on the lyricism being immaculate. His bars were so tight and timeless, Jay-Z would later jack one for his classic "99 Problems." (Of course, Jay-Z would get the pair to collab on the Timbaland-produced "Big Pimpin'.")

"The reasons why the rhymes still work today is because we consciously would talk about not dating music, right?" says Bun B. "So, if you wanna talk about a Benz, you could talk about the class of the Benz, but try not to say the year of the Benz, right? So if you stick to those kinds of general themes in life — money, sex, power, love, betrayal — all of these kinds of themes that have always existed, then albums will stand the test of time." 

While Bun doesn't have a big anniversary celebration planned for Dirty, he is interviewing the people involved with the album on his radio show The 2 Trill Show, which can be heard weekly on SiriusXM's Rock the Bells Radio.

Of course, you can still listen to the album, which — as the kids say — still slaps.