Too Short Explains How Tupac Almost Kept Pimp C From Working With JAY-Z (Video)
With 2000’s guest spot on JAY-Z’s Top 20 hit “Big Pimpin’,” UGK scored their most visible collaboration to date. Produced by Timbaland, it appeared on Jigga’s triple-platinum Vol. 3… Life and Times of S. Carter and is easily one of the rapper’s biggest commercial successes. At the time, Underground Kingz Bun B and Pimp C had yet to release their fourth album, and had previously scored only one gold record thanks to 1996’s Ridin’ Dirty. The duo’s appearance on a hit single from one of the Kings of Rap was a major look for Port Arthur, Texas’ finest and played a key role in ushering in the 2000s wave of mainstream success found by artists from the Third Coast.
However, there was some hesitation in the recording process for “Big Pimpin’.” The late Chad “Pimp C” Butler, who died in 2007, was “very conflicted about doing a song with JAY-Z,” according to a new interview from BET with Too Short. In the latest installment of the outlet’s “I Talked To” series, the Oakland, California Rap icon and Tupac Shakur collaborator shared the insight he had into what eventually led to Pimp’s decision to cut his infamous verse for “Big Pimpin’.” The hesitation, Short Dog says, involved ‘Pac. “Turns out, [Pimp C’s] only logic for not wanting to be on that song was all about Tupac…He said ‘I’m not f*ckin’ with nobody that didn’t f*ck with Tupac,'” he recalls. Although UGK and Tupac did not work together, they shared many friends, including Scarface, Master P, E-40, B-Legit, Ice-T, and of course Short Dog himself.
JAY-Z and Tupac were trading lyrical barbs at one time. The JAY-Z and Tupac rivalry reached its peak in 1996 for obvious and tragic reasons. At the time of ‘Pac’s murder, Jigga’s Reasonable Doubt was only a few months old and home to “22 Two’s” and memorable line about “West Coast d*ck-lickin’,” a not-so-veiled reference to the rivalry between East and West Coast Rap. Also on the same album, The Notorious B.I.G. had a laugh at his Tupac beef’s expense, care of “Brooklyn’s Finest.”
On the posthumously relased “F*ck Frienz,” Tupac raps “F*ck JAY-Z,” a clip of which Nas would incorporate into his own Jigga diss, 2001’s “Ether.” As previously reported by Ambrosia For Heads, JAY-Z was apparently aware of ‘Pac’s feelings and recorded a response, a studio version of which wasn’t released due to the sensitivity of Tupac’s death.
Elsewhere in the Too Short interview, he says there was “a lot of back and forth” before Pimp C agreed to step into the booth for JAY-Z. “I was one of the people who was sayin’, ‘Man, just do it,'” says Too Short. But up until the shoot for the song’s music video, Pimp C was still apparently uninvolved, at least to a degree. Too Short says, “He missed the f*ckin’ video shoot in Trinidad during Carnival. Who the f*ck is going to be, like, ‘I’m not going with JAY-Z and Dame Dash to Carnival?…Pimp C.'” Lighthearted incredulity aside, Short then goes on to explain that he had to get Pimp C to Miami somehow, to re-shoot the video.
In June, BET published another “Big Pimpin'”- related installment of “I Talked To,” that one starring Jive Records A&R Jeff Sledge. In it, he says Bun B was on board immediately upon being approached by JAY’s team. “Bun looked at is not only will it increase our profile, but I’m going to show the country that us guys from Texas can rap bar-for-bar with the best rapper in the country,” recalls Sledge. “Chad was, like, ‘I ain’t doin’ that. F*ck JAY-Z.'”
Elsewhere in the video, Sledge recalls JAY-Z’s reaction upon hearing Pimp C’s 12 bars for the first time, the music-video debacle and more.