Bun B is many things: rapper on the “G.O.A.T.” shortlist, Rice University lecturer, unofficial mayor of Houston, man of the spirit, OG . . . And those things have made him an important cultural figure—not just in Texas but beyond our borders as well. Both as a solo artist and in his partnership with the now-deceased Pimp C in UGK, his has been a sought-after voice that’s brought him to collaboration with everyone from Big Daddy Kane and Scarface to Jay-Z and Drake. But his work at Rice, where he teaches Religion and Hip-Hop Culture alongside Professor Anthony Pinn, has taken him to a rare place for an artist—he doesn’t just shape young minds through his records, he engages with them in a much more personal setting.
“Engagement” is what brought Bun and Pinn to Reddit yesterday, for an “Ask Me Anything” session in which, over the course of several hours, they answered dozens of questions from fans and interested parties in the r/HipHopHeads subreddit. Here are a few of the highlights:
Bun B’s shares his favorite Houston restaurants.
Like all of us, Bun B’s favorite meals aren’t always the healthiest. He likes the Breakfast Klub, which specializes in chicken and waffles, chicken-fried chicken, biscuits and gravy, and other delicious things that are best served as occasional indulgences. (“My trainer will kill me,” Bun admits.) He’s also a fan of Sparkle’s Hamburger Spot for the occasional lunch. For dinner, his tastes run a bit more upscale: Underbelly, the Creole-influenced restaurant/wine bar, gets “toss up” status along with high-end sushi spot Uchi.
For his part, Dr. Pinn shares Bun’s enthusiasm for the Breakfast Klub, and also enjoys Montrose’s Lowbrow, as well as Rice Village’s Benjy’s.
He likes it when rappers from other parts of the country are influenced by Houston.
When asked if he considered the shout-outs to Pimp C and DJ Screw or the raps about lean/purple drank that rappers like A$AP Rocky and Drake are fond of to be “the equivalent of white rappers appropriating black culture,” Bun was unequivocal:
In the same way that the earliest fans of hip hop were influenced by new york hip hop, so the new fans of hip hop are influenced by southern hip hop. No city or region owns hip hop anymore. Everyone is in a position to influence everyone. You can’t help what you fall in love with!
So that’s cleared up: Houston is everywhere now, says Bun B, and he would know.
He’s enthusiastic about the rap scene in Texas right now.
One point a questioner made is that Texas hip-hop is still largely defined by people whose biggest hits were in decades past: not just UGK but Geto Boys, Slim Thug, Chamillionaire, and others whose careers were established when today’s younger rappers were still in short pants. So what does Bun B think about the rap scene in Texas and how young artists who are looking to build a career like that of the Texas rap heroes can go about it?
“I love the rap scene in Texas right now. Artists are in a great position to profit from their art,” Bun writes—and to get there, he urges rappers to think more globally and less locally. “One of the ways artists can put themselves ‘on the map’ is to stop thinking about the lines on the map. Just because you’re a southern artist doesn’t mean you’re only going to be hot in the south, or that you’re gonna be hot first in the south.”
It’s a fair point: a rising artist like Travis Scott isn’t rising because he’s trying to establish himself as the next big-time Houston rapper-producer, but because he’s connected with artists from everywhere—he’s more likely to pop up on a record by Drake, Kanye, or Jay-Z than he is to rep Texas, and that’s certainly working out well for Scott.
If you want a Pimp C verse for your record, talk to the Pimp C estate.
One questioner asked Bun how he decided to give clearance to A$AP Rocky to use a verse Pimp C recorded before his death on his forthcoming album, At. Long. Last. A$AP, and Bun was unequivocal about how that works: “I don’t have any Pimp C verses. They’re controlled by the estate,” he responded. “That[’s] who you go through to get a Pimp C verse.”
As for how that happened, it’s hard to say—but the fact that Rocky agreed to appear on the posthumous album that Pimp C’s wife is putting together probably didn’t hurt.
He considers himself a “Christian-in-progress.”
Bun B teaches Religion and Hip-Hop Culture, which at first glance appears to be something of a contradiction, at least to the Reddit user who asked him about “reconciling Christian views with the content of a lot of Southern hip hop songs.”
“A lot of the content of modern hip hop concerns spending lavishly, committing adultery, sex before marriage, murder, selling crack, etc,” the user asks. “What are your views on this?”
Bun B responded:
As an artist I’ve talked about this very issue. UGK has made many songs about how the choices we make as men of flesh define us. We talked about how much God would be willing to forgive us for. This is something almost all of us deal with. I’d don’t profess to be a perfect Christian. I’ve made some choices that I regret, but I know I’m far from alone in that category.
It’s a fair question, and a relevant one given the subject of Bun’s work in the classroom. And when asked by a different user as a follow-up if he considers himself a practicing Christian, he responded, “I’m a Christian-in-progress,” a statement that was met with praise from fans. It’s hard not to like the way that Bun B puts things.