There’s so much weight on the sizable shoulders of Bernard Freeman he’s going to have to change his name from Bun B to Atlas. Over the last few years Bun B has become Texas’ unofficial hip-hop ambassador, maintaining his elite status while the careers of his Houston compatriots Paul Wall and Mike Jones fade by the minute. As if being responsible for an entire state’s nationwide rep wasn’t enough, Bun is also the sole representative of UGK after his longtime partner Pimp C recently passed away, just as the legendary duo were finally getting the …
DJBooth Album Review
With UGK’s epic last album still fresh in the eardrums of America, Bun has released a sequel to his critically acclaimed debut album Trill titled…wait for it… II Trill. Bun’s goal for Trill was to turn the nation’s attention to the Texas size bass lines blasting out his speakers. Mission accomplished. But now that he has everyone’s attention there are some weighty expectations to live up to. Apparently all the pressure has only served as candy paint to his musical Cadillac, pushing Bun to take his Southern soaked hustling to the next level. II Trill isn’t deep enough to be considered a classic, but he’s certainly done everyone depending on him proud – on Earth and in heaven.
As long as Bun is leading Houston’s charge to stay in the national spotlight than H-Town has a fighting chance. Throughout II Trill Bun holds class on his own brand of Southern hip-hop, a grinding and swaying music that undercuts window rattling bass with gospel organs and strumming guitars straight out of a dusty blues club. Combine all of the above and you’ll get Damn I’m Cold, a UGK worthy track that finds Lil Wayne dropping yet a merely decent (by his standards) guest verse. For his part Bun is as steady as ever; the man might not lyrically amaze you, but he never falters, and that kind of consistency is harder to find than a fat girl at a roller skating rink. You’re Everything takes a grimier tact with an insanely low bass line and the Southern mob of Rick Ross, David Banner and 8Ball and MJG on the mic, but even with all the star power Bun still has the presence to own his own track. Even the Lupe Fiasco assisted Swang On ‘Em hits harder than Mike Tyson on a steroid binge. I don’t know if you can ever be too trill, but Bun comes close.
Bun’s also feeling some pressure to feed his family, or at least make sure they attend some of the nation’s most expensive colleges. That’s the only way to explain II Trill’s low points, the tracks that veer into that foggy gray area where the streets meet the radio dial. I respect Bun’s ability to work with anyone, but I’m still going to pretend like That’s Gangsta never happened, and I suggest you do the same, unless you’re idea of gangsta is listening to a tubby kid singing a mediocre hook. As long as we’re on the subject, Just Be Good To Me was an annoying song in the 90’s, and adding Mya to the chorus and calling it Good II Me doesn’t improve the situation much. I’m not hating on the man for making some money (I save my hatred for radio and label execs), I’m just saying there’s a reason you’re stereo comes equipped with a next button. Use it as you see fit.
There was a time when I underestimated Bun’s lyrical versatility, but thankfully I’ve come to realize Bun’s far more complex than the surface of his music often portrays, in fact he’s one of the most political rappers in mainstream music. On Get Cha Issue he breaks down hypocrites from every walk of life, from millionaire preachers to crooked cops, with surgical precision, and on the reggae infused If It Was Up II Me he takes on the inequalities of the education system with the strength of a gangster. It’s this emergence of the other side of Bun B, the scholar behind the wheel of a wood-grained Caddy, that establishes II Trill as a landmark moment for Texas hip-hop. Long live the South! Long live the South! R.I.P. Pimp C!
DJBooth Rating - 4 Spins
Written by Nathan S. on 05/20/08
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First DJ Booth Appearance:
"They Don't Wanna Play ft. Bun B & Bad Seed" (2007)
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