DJ Paul Gives The Secret History To UGK & OutKast’s “Int’l Players Anthem”(Video)

“Int’l Players Anthem (I Choose You)” is one of the biggest Hip-Hop collaborations of the 2000s, and contends as one of the greatest Rap mergers of all-time. Featuring OutKast, UGK’s record and thematic video became a jet-pack for Bun B and Pimp C’s long-awaited fifth (and eponymous) album to reach #1 after nearly 20 years of making music. The single itself also became the Underground Kingz’ first record to ever enter the Pop charts. The moment was bittersweet as the 2007 single peaked just months before Pimp C (aka Chad Butler) passed away from a heart attack. While most know it as one of the great “players anthems,” and ironically, a great wedding song, fewer know that the initial version of the track is much older.

Three 6 Mafia member DJ Paul, who co-produced “Int’l Players Anthem” (with Juicy J), recently sat down with BET for their “I Talked To Pimp C” series and reminded fans that the collabo hit actually originated from Project Pat’s song “Choose U” from his 2002 album Layin’ da Smack Down, which was released a full five years prior.

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“‘Int’l Players Anthem’ was originally called ‘Choose U’ that I did for Project Pat,” begins Paul. “Pimp called me from jail. He was like, ‘When I get out, the first thing I’ma doin’ is I’m comin’ to your house in L.A. and I want you to give me that beat, and I don’t want you doin’ nothin’ different to it, Paul. Keep it the same.'” The Academy Award-winner rapper/producer says he tweaked the track ever so slightly without Pimp realizing it. “When he got out of prison, he came to our house and rapped over it. I did it and it blew up. I didn’t want to give him a new beat, ’cause I loved that song. What really happened was the Project Pat version, ‘Choose U’ was real big on the radio in like Atlanta and Memphis – only a few places… We were at Loud Records at that time, [they] didn’t really work the record at all,” Paul explained during the segment. “I’m like, ‘Man this record got a lot of potential and they messin’ this record up.” Pimp C, who spent the early 2000s incarcerated for probation violation, heard Pat’s version, and wanted the beat to himself. Like Paul, he felt that the amazing sample from The Mack had not reached its full potential.

On “Choose U,” as opposed to “Int’l Players Anthem,” DJ Paul and Juicy J each spit verses. It also includes an introduction by Southern Soul icon Willie Hutch (an uncle to Above The Law’s Cold 187um). A version featuring Three 6 Mafia appeared among the bonus tracks on 2007’s Underground Kingz. Houston, Texas DJ O.G. Ron C also screwed this rendition on the #1 album.

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While DJ Paul says he was disappointed that Loud didn’t push the version of the record he was on vocally, he admits that the version with OutKast on it is much better. “I’m glad they didn’t clear it for us the be on the single because OutKast was a way better fit [laughs],” Paul said. “And I get paid off it anyway so I don’t even care.”

In the same interview, Paul reveals that UGK and “Triple 6” were working on a collaborative super-group at the time called “Da Underground Mafia.” He says that Pimp C proposed the idea and name. “I don’t know why we never sat our asses down and did that album, but that would have been crazy,” says Paul. 2000’s “Sippin’ On Some Syrup,” which featured Pat, became da Mafia’s highest-charting single to date. The two entities collaborated often, both Southern veterans in the Sony Records system.

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#BonusBeat: A playlist of the three discussed versions of the song: Project Pat’s 2002 original, UGK’s video version, and the UGK and Three 6 Mafia bonus track version: