On December 4, 2007, Chad Lamont Butler died in a Los Angeles hotel room. That day the world lost a father, a husband, a son and a friend, but hip-hop also lost UGK co-founder Pimp C, one of the godfathers not only of Houston hip-hop, but Southern hip-hop. That Pimp was tragically underrated during his lifetime is inarguable. “Serious” hip-hop heads dismissed him music as shallow because of his refusal to tone down his pimpin ways (the near-classic Underground Kingz was my personal conversion from hater to lover), but after he passed that he began …
DJBooth Album Review
On that December day we were also robbed of the chance to ever truly hear a Pimp C solo album. Incredibly, despite nearly two decades of making music, Pimp was constantly thwarted in his plans to create his individual opus. His first two “solo” albums, Sweet James Jones Stories and Pimpilation, were essentially collections of unreleased material which dropped during his incarceration, and he took his last breath well before he finished the now posthumous, The Naked Soul of Sweet Jones. Considering the lag between his death and its release, it’s more accurate to think of Sweet Jones as an unofficial tribute album than an official solo album. Despite Bun B’s commitment to staying true to Pimp’s wishes, it’s simply impossible to say this is the album he would have made had he lived.
The clearest example of that gap between what is and what might have been is What Up. Easily Sweet Jones’ most easily accessible record, thanks to the gripping Boi-1da beat and the presence of the beloved Drake, What Up likely introduced Pimp to a young generation of Drake lovers, but would Chad Butler really have worked with Aubrey Graham? Bun’s co-sign has to count for something, but some people who knew the real Sweet Jones personally insist he would have never collaborated with the international superstar bold enough to call himself Young Sweet Jones. A similar situation arises again on the lush, Rick Ross affiliated Midnight. Would Pimp have welcomed an (alleged) correction officer onto one of this songs? We’ll never know, and while most listeners will simply enjoy the music and not lose sleep over such questions, hardcore Pimp fans may find themselves unable to avoid pressing fast forward at times on Naked Soul.
Thankfully there’s no questioning the majority of Sweet Jones. Down For Mine is the most purely Pimp sounding offering on Sweet Jones, a slowly soulful cut driven by riding percussion, Pimp’s delightfully obscene vocals and, frankly, some of the most entertaining ad-libs ever put on wax; “I ain’t buyin no more Bentleys, those hos don’t have good customer service.” God that man was one in a million. Where was I? Oh yes, the music. In addition to similarly riding and, of course, p**sy obsessed joints, most notably the unstoppably soul-funk anthem Fly Lady and the relentless dirty Made 4 Me featuring Too Short (now there’s a feature there’s no questioning), Naked Soul holds the distinction of highlighting an aggressiveness he rarely unleashed. Hit the Parking Lot is everything about Southern hip-hop New York City hates, and Pimp loved; a dirty banger of a beat and rhymes about driving slow, smoking slow and living fast, and the album’s last two songs, the appropriately militaristic Go 2 War and deeply dark Massacre, finds Sweet Jones showing his rougher side with clip-unloading threats of violence. In life or in death, the message is clear – you do not f**k with Pimp C.
As you can tell by the paragraph above, Pimp was a complicated man. He loved women, yet only the aforementioned Too Short rivaled him in “bi**tch!”es per verse. He infused his music with gospel sounds and spirit, yet was the consummate sinner. Until his last day on Earth, he refused to be anything but entirely himself. Make no mistake, there will never be another Pimp C, but thankfully his memory will live on as long as Big Pimpin is played on the radio, as long as Int’l Player’s Anthem is pounded through speakers and as long as the world listens to The Naked Soul of Sweet Jones. The Pimp is dead. Long live the Pimp.
Listen to More: Pimp C Written by Nathan S.
Rap-A-Lot/Double Dose Ent./II Trill Enterprises/Fontana
First DJ Booth Appearance:
"Cut It Out ft. Pimp C & Sean P." (2007)
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