Music

Bun B: II Trill

Remaining UGK member delivers a solo album of incredible flows and production.


Bun B

II Trill

Label: Rap-a-lot
US Release Date: 2008-05-20
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon
iTunes

The sentiment behind II Trill, the first solo release from Bun B after his partner Pimp C tragically died late last year, can be summed up on the epic "Damn I'm Cold": "We about to do this for Pimp C, so pass me a bottle / I'm about to pop the top on it, like a slab or a model / Turn it upside down and pour it out for my lil' bro / And pass me another one so i can pour out a lil' more." While it seems like typical rap fare, these lines color nearly every aspect of the now-sole Underground King's latest disc: abounding reverence for a lifelong partner while maintaining the same flash, swagger, and undeniable brilliance of a legendary career.

Lesser artists wouldn't and haven't (see: Eminem post-Proof's death) handled a similar loss as eloquently or courageously. Even after spending nearly 20 years together, making certified classics and assuring their spot in hip-hop lore under the UGK moniker, Bun B has sidestepped a public meltdown and continued to make the same music that garnered him and Pimp C so much fame. II Trill stands as a testament to the unbelievable skill and resiliency of Bun B, and as an ode to an artist that belongs among hip-hop's other fallen legends.

Taken out of the Pimp C context though, II Trill is the second solo release from Bun B, and the latest chapter in his Trill-O-G. Moreover, II Trill is essentially the archetype of a contemporary Southern rap album -- golden sheen beats, syrupy flows, and tattering hi-hats. But what else could you expect from one of the men that helped put the South on the map?

This record hits the gas pedal at the outset and never lets up. "II Trill" opens the disc with waves of pulsating strings hovering over random cymbal splashes and the bass drum's heartbeat, before J. Prince's smooth baritone comes like a shot of Robitussin and brings the song back to earth. What follows is a near endless stream of A-list beats ("You're Everything", "Swang on 'Em", "Good II Me", etc.), top-notch guest appearances (Lil Wayne, Lupe Fiasco, Rick Ross), and flamethrower rhymes. But for those that despise the typical mainstream power jams, these come as more of a plague than anything else. Because, frankly, the production and flows on II Trill are essentially the very best of cookie-cutting mainstream tracks -- the Westminster Dog Show of radio hip-hop.

And Bun B does nothing if not parade hip-hop's finest throughout II Trill. Lil Wayne's verse on the aforementioned "Damn I'm Cold" is a return to form for an MC that has recently gone stagnant, showing us the very best of his free association, I'll-say-anything-because-I'm-the-best-and-very-very-high style: "So we call them bitches cheeseheads / Lambo Leaping that pussy like in Green Bay / Lambo sweet, look like sugar on the freeway". Bun B even takes perennial good-boy backpacker Lupe Fiasco and turns him into a legitimate rapper on "Swang on 'Em". The Chicago native sheds his altar boy persona to flow on the screwed-up Southern banger ("I know about them Northside Blues and them Southside Reds" and "Speak on, how you on a song Bun B on? / Complete 180, how crazy has he gone?").

The only break from II Trill's million dollar beats and high-intensity rhymes is the comfortingly humanist "Angel in the Sky". A seemingly obligatory track dedicated to Pimp C, Bun B proves he is markedly above sentimental, cliché dedications to his former partner. In a genre that blatantly avoids and criticizes even the most remote signs of male emotion (constant cries of "no homo" litter recent hip-hop releases), Bun B openly talks about his love for Pimp C.

But for as much as II Trill pays homage to Pimp C, it's ultimately all about Bun B. If there was ever any doubt that the prolific MC could make it on his own, this disc stands as a firm "fuck you." Bun B is a legend, and will continue to be one even without his storied other half.

8

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less
7
TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Here comes another Kompakt Pop Ambient collection to make life just a little more bearable.

Another (extremely rough) year has come and gone, which means that the German electronic music label Kompakt gets to roll out their annual Total and Pop Ambient compilations for us all.

Keep reading... Show less
8

Winner of the 2017 Ameripolitan Music Award for Best Rockabilly Female stakes her claim with her band on accomplished new set.

Lara Hope & The Ark-Tones

Love You To Life

Label: Self-released
Release Date: 2017-08-11
Amazon
iTunes

Lara Hope and her band of roots rockin' country and rockabilly rabble rousers in the Ark-Tones have been the not so best kept secret of the Hudson Valley, New York music scene for awhile now.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image