Though the Houston rapper puts out hip-hop tracks that focus on the usual gangsta topics—drug dealing, conspicuous consumption, explicit violence—he’s also known as one of the more thoughtful figures on the scene. So it was perhaps only a mild surprise when Rice University announced that Bun B (real name: Bernard Freeman) would be co-teaching an undergraduate course called Religion and Hip Hop Culture with Professor Anthony Pinn during the spring 2011 semester. The 37-year-old rapper, who first made his name as part of the duo UGK with his late partner, Pimp C, released his third solo album, Trill O.G., in August.
So how did this teaching gig come about?
Dr. Pinn invited me to come in and speak to his class last year, and afterward he asked me if I’d be interested in co-teaching the course with him for a semester and see how it goes. I thought, Why not?
Is teaching something you’d ever thought of doing?
Whenever I was able to push someone in the right direction, I’ve always been about that. I’ve spoken at different events—at high schools, middle schools—and it always seemed like it was going to be geared toward something, but I couldn’t see what. When Dr. Pinn approached me, it all started to make sense, what it would be.
Do you worry that any of your students will try to pass their demo tapes along to you?
That’s not what this course is about. Any demos that anyone brings, I’m not listening to—at least not during the course. If I listen to anything, it will be after everyone’s papers are graded and the class is over, because if their music sucks, I might be forced to give them a failing grade. Just kidding.
You’re teaching a course on religion; were you raised in a religious household?
I was raised very religious, and my entire