As MF Doom once said, rap these days is like a pain up in the neck. Seriously, the ratio of intelligent lyricists to not-exactly-lyricists-at-all leans heavily toward the latter in this time of ours. (“You a stupid ho, you, you stupid ho, etc.”) That’s why Bun B’s a cool drink of water, even if he is a crusty old G. He’s been at it since 1987, and cut his teeth as one half of UGK (Underground Kingz), who had their first major release in 1992. To understand why this is impressive, it is important that we look at rap’s evolution as a whole. In short, it’s the difference between N.W.A.’s “Straight Outta Compton” and Lil Jon’s “Outta Your Mind.”
Since the days of old school, Bun B has successfully been at the forefront of Southern hip hop and he continues on that road today. He might just be a chameleon, but it seems unlikely considering he hasn’t sacrificed any artistic integrity over the course of his 27-year career.
His lyrics contain many of the same themes and conceits as your average millennial verse — money, crime, asses dropped, heads looking back, guns, clubs, drankin’ — but Bun B spits these ideas like a venomous snake. He uses similes that make sense (thank you very much, Juicy J), and he understands structure to a point that other rappers seem unable to fathom. For one, his lines actually fit over the beat.
When not ownin’ the mic, Bun B teaches a class in hip hop and religion at Rice University. He’s a fucking professor twice a week. So yeah, getting back to intelligence … enough said, although he did also release a coloring book.
Bun B, Kirko Bangz and TxE perform 8 pm Thursday, March 27, at WOW Hall; $18 adv., $20 door.