Under Ground Kingz: The Influence on Southern Hip-Hop

Picture taken from Vibe

90 miles outside of Houston, Texas lies Port Arthur (PA) Texas. Two hip-hop heads from PA became one of the most well-known groups in Texas, but their influence spread much further than the Lonestar State. Underground Kingz was a powerhouse rap duo that was made up of Bun B, and Pimp C.

Pimp C is gone today, but for sure not forgotten. UGK paved the way for Southern hip-hop sound and layed the foundation for what was to come in the future for other Southern rappers. The Geto Boys and their reality raps also helped open the door for everyone to come after them.

For a lot of rappers in the South, the sounds are influenced mostly from gospel, and some R&B. The Southern Way EP was released on cassette tap in 1992, and it introduced to the world the R8 Drum Machine. While the duo together was a powerhouse, both Bun B and Pimp C had strengths of their own. Pimp C was responsible for incorporating these sounds together in the music; he paved the way for the R8 drum, kicks and the snares. And of course this music is widely known as hip-hop, Pimp C regarded this music as “Country Rap Tunes.”

Once their debut EP took off in their own neighborhood, it shot up everywhere else. The duo went on to sign with Jive Records. Their next project, Super Tight, the two attempted to replicate sounds from Meters records. Legends from near and far would come to help the two piece records together and create their own unique sound. In addition to this, in their studio, they had live organs, live guitar and live bass. They heavy use of the organs in UGK’s music is what tied them so closely to that gospel sound.

Jay Z’s album, Vol. 3 Life and Times of S. Carter, UGK made an appearance on the renowned track, Big Pimpin. Pimp C initially didn’t want to do the song, because he didn’t want to seem like was riding Jay Z’s wave. So when Pimp C received the beat, he wasn’t happy with it. So he ended up free styling an 8-bar verse. While Jay and Bun both provided excellent verses to the song, Pimp C ultimately took the song to the very top. Pimp C and Bun put on for Texas with this feature. UGK together bot washed Jay Z on his own song (in my opinion.)

Aside from the notoriety from Big Pimpin, the duo was also featured on the well known International Players Anthem (I Choose You). The song was produced by DJ Paul and Juicy J. The song is a sample from I Choose You, by Willie Hutch. The song was originally done for Project Pat, and UGK decided to use the song again. The video was filmed the same weekend as the BET awards, and as other celebrities began finding out about the video, they made appearances. (T-Pain and David Banner weren’t supposed to be in the video.)

The group was ahead of its time and sonically, there will never be another group that can create sounds like Bun B and Pimp C did. The group was doing something that potentially would’ve changed the trajectory of hip-hop as we know it. The slowed down, gospel flavor, soulful- that became the sound of Southern hip-hop. While we lost a pioneer for Southern hip-hop sound, he lives within us, and you can still hear his influence in music today. #LongLivethePimp

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