Few artists were as authentic as Pimp C. Born Chad Butler, the rapper and producer earned his stripes with an unfiltered approach to music that, alongside Bun B as UGK, transformed the Port Arthur representative into an underground king. It's why, eight years after his untimely death, he is still viewed as one of the most influential figures in rap. As the timeless saying goes, trill recognize trill.
Today, Complex and Mass Appeal present Long Live the Pimp, a documentary that further explores the life of Pimp C, from his humble beginnings in Port Arthur to becoming a star for keeping it real on wax. "I understood that he was destined for something great," Bun B says of his former UGK counterpart. "I was just like, you know what, I know I'm alright with this music shit, he real good with this music shit, I'ma hold my nigga down and see how far we can get."
Many diehard fans and casual listeners alike can point to UGK's appearance on Jay Z's "Big Pimpin'" as a major moment for the duo, and with good reason. Not only was it their highest-charting song as a main or featured act, but it was anchored by Pimp's scene-stealing eight-bar contribution that truly epitomized his trill demeanor. Interestingly enough, Pimp C was initially against hopping on the track, with producer Mr. Lee describing the iconic verse as a "freestyle" from the rapper. "Watch Jay Z perform that record now, he takes the music out and makes the whole crowd say it," says Jermaine Dupri.
Also detailed in the documentary is Pimp C's incarceration in 2002 and how he attempted to unify the South following his release with "Knockin' Doorz Down," a record that highlighted issues between T.I. and Lil' Flip, Paul Wall and Chamillionaire, and Z-Ro and Slim Thug. "One thing I liked about Pimp is he didn't wait," David Banner says. "He made it happen."
Pimp C's voice was much-needed in the game, which made his death in 2007 all the more tragic. "The whole city cried that day," says DJ DMD, producer and childhood friend of the rapper. "When you lose someone like Pimp C, you lose a cultural bulletproof vest," adds Bun B. "You lose somebody that was actually willing to stand up and take the bullet for the culture, that was willing to be honest and say the things that maybe people were afraid to say or that people didn't want to hear."
Chinara Butler, Mike Mo, Rico Wade, N.O. Joe, DJ Paul, Nas, Mike "5000" Watts, and countless others close to Pimp C reflect on his legacy and what he meant to the South and hip-hop at large. Watch the full Marcus A. Clarke-directed documentary above, and grab Pimp C's posthumously released album, Long Live the Pimp, via Mass Appeal Records.