July 7, 2022

There wasn’t lots of hoopla across the final Verzuz battle. The face-off between UGK and 8Ball & MJG, two of the all-time nice Southern rap duos, was solely introduced just a few days earlier than it occurred. This showdown didn’t convey the chaotic drama of some previous Verzuz battles. So far as I do know, there was by no means any unhealthy blood between the 2 teams, and the entire thing proceeded in orderly style, with out anybody throwing any punches or ripping anybody’s bandana off their heads. It went down in a not-huge membership, with what appeared like a reasonably sedate crowd. There have been friends, however there have been no stop-the-presses friends. And the entire thing needed to occur with out Pimp C, the largest character of these 4 rappers, since he’s been useless for greater than 14 years. It was nonetheless nice. It couldn’t assist however be nice.

A part of the greatness was the entire laid-back vibe of the night time, the distinct lack of competitors. When the Lox took on Dipset, or when Three 6 Mafia battled Bone Thugs-N-Concord, there have been stakes. On some degree, at the least just a few of the folks on these levels felt like their legacy, or perhaps their pleasure, trusted stomping out the opposite workforce. Bun B, 8Ball, and MJG are too safe for any of that. The one whiff of static got here when 8Ball corrected a narrative that Gillie Da Child had informed on a podcast, insisting that he’d by no means needed to run from J Prince. That wasn’t directed at Bun. It’s exhausting for me to think about anybody having something unhealthy to say about Bun.

If Pimp C had been there, perhaps issues would’ve gone in another way. As of late, Bun is a kindly rap grandfather who writes forewords to Shea Serrano books, pops up for 5 shock units a day throughout SXSW, and rhymes “grippin’ grain” with “sweet paint” each time he raps one other verse. He’s not attempting to start out shit with anybody. Pimp, against this, was attempting to start out shit with folks till the day he died. Pimp C was each a musical genius and a real maniac, and his unpredictability was a key a part of his fantasy. He was all the time aggressive, and it’s straightforward to image him taking the entire Verzuz course of personally. Not Bun, although.

Bun stored a mutual-appreciation society going with Ball & G, and with all of Ball & G’s friends, all night time. One in all my favourite moments of the present was when Twista got here out for MGJ’s “Center Of The Evening” remix. When the tune was over, Bun rhapsodized about his Twista fandom and stated he’d been within the room when Twista recorded that tune. He’d run to the studio in his flip-flops as a result of he simply wished to see Twista do what he did in particular person. I really like that.

That Twista story hit my heartstrings as a result of it jogged my memory of the time after I nonetheless regarded sure rappers, Twista included, with a way of awe. I nonetheless do typically, however age and repetition make that more durable. 8Ball & MJG made an excellent match for UGK as a result of each teams come from that period. They each began making data within the early ’90s, earlier than Southern rap grew to become large enterprise. They have been each regional establishments earlier than they grew to become canonized rap legends. They each have deep catalogs stuffed with hits, they usually each have types constructed round slow-roll beats and towering charisma. Each of them have data which have held up fantastically over the many years — partly as a result of they have been so influential and partly as a result of they have been simply nice.

I love 8Ball & MJG. They’ve obtained classics for days, they usually’re each deeply underrated as rappers. They made “Chill out And Take Notes,” a tune that comes from their post-peak interval that by no means actually grew to become an enormous hit and that’s constructed round a slightly-forced Biggie pattern, as if to remind the world that they have been on Dangerous Boy on the time. However I play that tune on a regular basis. That observe has what is perhaps my favourite Undertaking Pat verse ever, and all three of its verses are good. (I travel on whether or not I favor 8Ball being poetically understated — “Unlawful hustlin’, soiled cash musclin’, spend it like I by no means noticed a day of ache and sufferin’” — or MJG being cartoonishly overstated — “Rattling! I finished made all of y’all shit your denims!/ This appears to be like! Like! It’d! Be a job! For Mr. Clear!”) The UGK set, in the meantime, was largely devoted Bun half-rapping alongside to Pimp’s recorded verses, like he was a ghost’s hypeman. And but Ball & G by no means stood an opportunity, at the least in my coronary heart. These UGK songs are too good.

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Ever since that Verzuz battle, I’ve been confirming one thing that I knew all alongside: UGK are the all-time champs within the essential class of music that makes me really feel unbelievable after I’m driving round on a scorching day. The group’s music advanced in lots of instructions throughout their years collectively, however it all the time got here again to a central sound — woozy natural instrumentation layered over slow-thunder drums, the fashion that Pimp C all the time known as “nation rap tunes.” Pimp was so dedicated to that fashion that he got here near turning down his guest-spot on Jay-Z’s “Huge Pimpin’,” the tune that grew to become UGK’s greatest hit, after which he went forward and wrote one thing good for the observe anyway. If you happen to’ve ever been in an enormous group of individuals rapping together with Pimp’s verse — “unnh, now what y’all find out about them Texas boys, comin’ down in candied toys, smokin’ weed, talkin’ noise” — you then already know.

UGK’s arc is virtually a Shakespearean tragedy. These two guys provide you with this sound that’s thus far faraway from what everybody was doing on the time that they might promote lots of of hundreds of albums with out approaching the mainstream. They launch 4 nice albums, two of that are good, they usually construct themselves up to a degree the place they’ll’t be ignored anymore. However then, simply as they’re lastly getting ready to breaking by means of, Pimp C will get himself locked up, sentenced to eight years on a probation violation. This could kill most teams, however Bun B goes on a legendary guest-verse rampage, screaming “free Pimp C” at each out there alternative and making Pimp right into a mythic cult hero. When Pimp comes house, UGK are greater than ever. They make a double album that has fellow legends on nearly each tune, and it debuts at #1. Then, two years after getting out of jail, Pimp C dies from a mixture of codeine and sleep apnea on the age of 33. It’s all simply too fucking unhappy.

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However the music isn’t unhappy. The music hits notes that no person else might. As a producer, Pimp C, a classically skilled musician, had an early understanding of what rap might do. He was quietly bringing in Meters veterans so as to add delicate gutbucket funk accents to his tracks for years. He additionally knew the way to use his voice. His choruses have been ethereal and exquisite, and his raps leaned exhausting into his monster twang. He appeared like essentially the most assured particular person on the planet. Bun B was a technical virtuoso with a rumbling godlike voice and a commanding writing fashion, and the 2 match one another completely. A factor I take into consideration typically: You might make a case for 2 totally different verses on Ridin’ Soiled, UGK’s 1996 masterpiece, as the best rap verse of all time. On the opening observe “One Day,” Pimp comes with one thing so suffocatingly, shatteringly unhappy that I’ve seen it scale back folks to tears in a nightclub. Then, on the very subsequent tune, Bun offers one of the gorgeous pure-rap shows I’ve ever heard.

On the Verzuz battle on Thursday night time, host Greg Road stated a few occasions that Bun had been Pimp’s favourite rapper on the earth and that Pimp had by no means been shy about saying it. Earlier than he carried out that dizzying “Homicide” verse, Bun stated that he was about to point out why he was Pimp’s favourite rapper — a uncommon present of ego from certainly one of rap’s humblest greats. In the course of the battle, Bun made the purpose, repeatedly, that it was not a battle. It was a celebration, with two legendary teams coming collectively to point out why they have been legends. But when it was a contest, Bun would’ve gained it with that verse. Huge Boi popping out for “Int’l Gamers Anthem” would’ve simply been a victory lap.

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Did the world wanted to be reminded that UGK have been nice? That 8Ball & MJG are nice? Possibly! Each of these teams have been forward of their occasions. When Pimp C was in jail, the remainder of the world caught as much as UGK. The data that the duo launched within the ’90s sounded completely present within the ’00s, and that’s one of many causes that Underground Kingz, their 2007 double album, hit so exhausting. As of late, although, rap has moved onto different sounds, and even the artists who indulged in UGK nostalgia after Pimp’s demise have moved onto different issues. (Huge Ok.R.I.T.’s most up-to-date report, in any case, is a kind of blog-rap nostalgia effort that he recorded with Wiz Khalifa and Woman Discuss.) Give or take Megan Thee Stallion, who nicknamed herself Tina Snow in honor of Pimp, at present’s rap A-listers barely point out UGK anymore. That’s high quality. UGK’s legend is secure, and the world strikes on. However one thing like that Verzuz battle, low-key because it was, is nice for reminding the world why that music issues.

Memorial Day was this previous weekend. Summer time is right here. The place I stay, it’s already scorching sufficient to be gross outdoors. There’s all the time going to be new music that calls for your consideration, however typically, that stuff can wait. If you happen to’re out on a sunny day, driving round, perhaps contemplate doing your self a favor and placing UGK into rotation. It’s been working for me.


1. Trapland Pat – “DOA” (Feat. Big30)
Trapland Pat makes fairly music. This floats.

2. Pouya – “Serpent”
I’ve obtained three pals, brothers who used to play in a space-rock band collectively and who then opened a brewery within the mountains, they usually all appear to be Pouya. Which is to say: Pouya appears to be like like a man who used to play in a space-rock band and who now runs a mountain brewery, besides he’s out right here chasing purses, ducking hearses, one life no reimbursement. I believe that’s cool.

3. 25AR – “Hottest In My Metropolis” (Feat. Rob49)
At any time when random Southern rappers present up on New York street-rap bangers, I’m completely happy. Rob49 is from New Orleans, and this observe sounds nothing like his standard stuff, however he destroys it anyway.

4. C1 & LD (67) – “Hillside Demons”
UK drill could make nice social gathering music, and it could additionally make nice coiled-anxiety music. This tune is the latter.

5. Moneybagg Yo – “See Wat I’m Sayin”
I’m unsure when or how he obtained there, however Moneybagg Yo has now hit the extent the place each random single drop looks like an occasion. He’s at that superb rap-career level the place he’s assured sufficient to glow proper by means of the observe however none of his shit has gotten performed out but. I like to see it.