Pimp C’s Memory Is Cherished by Nas, Bun B & Family Insiders in New Documentary (Video)
In the years since his 2007 passing, Pimp C (born Chad Butler) remains a larger-than-life presence in Hip-Hop, especially when one considers his enduring influence in the way Southern Rap sounds. But regional impact aside, Pimp C was also a friend, a group mate, a husband, and a life-loving celebrant whose memory stretches far beyond music in the hearts and minds of those who loved and knew him. Now, fans of his are being given an opportunity to learn more about those memories, thanks to a new mini-documentary produced by Complex and Mass Appeal which features not only musical collaborators like Bun B and Nas, but also family members and others whose testimonies blend with one another to provide a poignant and heartwarming look into the man behind the music.
Long Live the Pimp: A Documentary on the Life and Legacy of Pimp C is a nearly half-hour long film that begins with imagery of Port Arthur, Texas, the town where he spent much of his life and where he was buried. The first voice to be included in the film is that of his wife, Chinara Butler, who shares that “Chad was always musically inclined. His father was in a band. His mother married another musician…I think it was just in his blood.” Early images of a young Butler playing instruments and working in the studio serve as reminders that the music he would go on to create as part of UGK and as a solo artist stretches back to the early ’90s and anecdotes shared by engineer and close friend Mike Mo, producer Cory Mo, and Bun B help build the foundation for the early days of Pimp C’s career.
Near the 5:25 mark, Bun B shares his thoughts on why Pimp C was so important to Southern Hip-Hop by arguing “for many years, Southern contributions to Rap music and Hip-Hop had been pretty much overlooked. Like, if you weren’t from New York making Hip-Hop at the time, then you weren’t real and you weren’t original. So he was like ‘they don’t want us to be a part it. Why should we be a part of it?'” It was that line of thinking which would create within Pimp C a desire to not only be recognized for his work, but to establish himself as an artist who worked entirely outside of the framework of what was considered “real” and “original.” As Devin the Dude says at the 5:52 mark, “there wasn’t really a signature sound coming out of the South, and really wasn’t nobody seemed to be lookin’ for sound coming out of the South, and that’s what kinda really made him say ‘let’s make these people hear us.'”
Other noteworthy artists also chime in, with David Banner saying “when Pimp C got fed up and said he don’t do Hip-Hop, he do Country Rap tunes, that’s all I needed to hear.” Nas calls Pimp C’s music “straight South, uncut, no compromising, no trying to fit in with nothin’ else.” Esco goes in-depth about Pimp C’s work on “Big Pimpin’,” Jay Z’s 2000 single featuring UGK near the 7:54 mark. “His whole style on that…when Pimp got on the record, here is the entry to the Pimp,” he says. However, that song almost didn’t happen, as DJ Greg Street explains. “A lot of people don’t know that Pimp C didn’t want to do “Big Pimpin’, that’s why his verse is only eight bars,” he says. That point is echoed by producer Mr. Lee, who was in the studio when Butler first heard the beat and reportedly called it a “garbage can ass motherfuckin’ beat.” However, rather than turn it down, he apparently said “I’ma just rap the countriest shit that I can rap on this mothafucka and send it right back to him.”
Other contributing voices include those of fellow Texas representative Lil’ Flip, Swishahouse record label co-founder Michael Watts, producer and close friend DJ DMD, Three 6 Mafia’s DJ Paul, Organized Noize’s Rico Wade, Devin the Dude, Jazze Pha, Killa Kyleon, Jermaine Dupri, and many more.