Bun B Gets Trill About Aging Gracefully in Hip-Hop

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Like Rock & Roll music before it, Hip-Hop began as a form of youth culture rebelling against the old machine. Grandmaster Melle Mel warning society not to push him any further, the shrilling screeches of Public Enemy’s “Rebel Without A Pause,” or the provocative nature of 2 Live Crew were upsetting to the set-up by design. But 30 years later, what happens when those who helped to form the culture become elders themselves? Such is the case with venerable Rap legend, Bun B, one-half of the legendary duo UGK.

The now-46-year-old MC has come a long way from those Port Arthur, Texas streets, carving out a career that many in the game still envy. With six albums as part of a group, five as a solo artist, and one around-the-clock-in-a-day collaborative effort with Statik Selektah, Bun Beata hasn’t limited himself to just the booth. In the spring of 2011, the Trill O.G. joined Rice University as a Distinguished Lecturer, teaching a course in the School of the Humanities on “Hip-Hop and Religion,” which made his recent conversation on the subject all the more intriguing. He has spoken candidly about cleaning up his life, and being an O.G. and a grandfather at the same time.

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Announced this week by former VIBE editor, Jermaine Hall, a new culture and lifestyle publication called LEVEL (distributed via Medium), launched and aimed specifically at “Black and Brown men 30-and-up,” according to Variety. With subject matter ranging from health to parenting to celebrity profiles, Bun wrote a guest column that touched upon his career and “aging gracefully in Hip-Hop.”

The Port Arthur, Texas icon details how the past 27 years of his career have led to this revelation. “Even though I still perform 60 to 75 times a year, my downtime doesn’t revolve around all things Rap,” Bun writes in his piece. “As a father of two and now grandfather of a five-year-old granddaughter, I find myself in places I never thought I’d be in. And that’s okay.” Going from living the life of Underground Kingz lyrics to raising the roof at his granddaughter’s cheer-leading competitions does not mean the highly-respected lyricist is pulling out his rocking chair.

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In April of this year, Bun collaborated with Statik for the TrillStatik album. Broadcast as it was recorded in real-time, the marathon session showed just how much youthful exuberance he still has. “I could stay up all hours of the night, partying and living it up, embracing my [then] newfound celebrity status,” Bun confessed in his op-ed. “Looking for good weed and good times was my only concern. But that only lasted so long.” As great artists get older, the industry and fans seem to move on to the next hot thing. But this is not true with Bun, as he self-distributed “Bun B Day” in August, continues to work in the community as a professor, and has a heaping helping of game for the young ones currently in the mix.

“As you get older in Hip-Hop, you start to realize how much of it is geared toward the youth,” he writes. “Performance times of 3am were fun in my twenties, letting me know that an all-nighter was in front of me. Now it just reminds me of how much sleep I’m gonna miss. Pre-gaming turn-ups with liquor and weed gave way to pre-show naps. Finding out what strip club or after-hour spot was jumping after the show has given way to finding out which restaurant with a high Yelp rating would still be open after midnight.” Bun values different things at this juncture of his life. It’s all true to who he is.

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Read Bun B’s full thoughts on aging gracefully in Hip-Hop over at LEVEL.

#BonusBeat: Bun B, Statik Selektah, and Jovanie’s “Moving Mountains” music video: