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Bun B

Trill OG

[Rap-a-Lot; 2010]

By ; August 10, 2010 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

Sheesh, Trill OG is the first record in five years to get 5 mics from The Source? No Weezy, no Ye, no T.I.? Nobody? Except for Bun B, it now stands. Who saw that coming? Back in UGK’s earlier days, who woulda thunk. It’s always been easy to be root for Bun and Pimp C, but after Trill it didn’t seem too much would come from Bun’s solo career – it was just a detour while C wasn’t around. It’s tragic that such a triumphant return as Underground Kingz would become the final UGK offering. Following Pimp C’s passing Bun B became “the feature”. Having spent the last two years fulfilling that role, it’s about time Bun delivered something on his own terms, but is the record a classic? The 5 mics distinction has stirred up debate every which where, but I didn’t pay it much mind. People are concerned out of what the rating used to mean, everyone needs to recall what exactly The Source has become. The last record they gave the same rating? Lil’ Kim’s The Naked Truth. The prosecution rests.

Thus far, despite his brilliance in both a group and supporting role, Bun hasn’t released a fantastic solo record. Yet, Ill Trill was superior to its predecessor, so if he keeps that up, he’s bound to release gold eventually. I’ll be up front about it – this isn’t that record. It may full well be his strongest solo outing yet, but it certainly isn’t album of the year.

It’s nearly odd that the go-to guest spot would fill his own album so fully with visitors, but it isn’t surprising. Bun’s spent a – quite spectacular – career in the company of another; whether it be Pimp or the multitude of friends he’s made in recent years. So even when Bun’s doing it by his “lonesome,” he’s sure to have plenty of talent to play off of lying in wait. One of the record’s flaws is that the company he chooses pales to that of his fallen comrade. Having a place in the game without fail since 1991, Bun deserves a whole lot of credit for staying relevant. I’d bemoan Bun’s closeness with the likes of Drake and T-Pain on this record, but it’s nothing new. Bun’s worked with the likes of Mike Jones, The Ying Yang Twins, and Rick Ross on past albums, and has been buddy-buddy with Drake since So Far Gone. That doesn’t make it anymore listenable – a classic MC such as Bun being a respect token for Drizzy just stings, there’s no way around it. The record even begins with a sort of bow to the soap opera MC.

The album begins on a high note with “Chuuch!!!,” and aside from the painful Drake shoutout, Bun spitting fire with lines like, “I’m back baby and better than I ever was/ I got the streets on fire, so forget a buzz.” Then the record descends for the T-Pain single, “Trillionare,” it’s not terrible, the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League production is, as usual, nothing to complain about (even if it sounds more like a Boi-1da cut than their own), and honestly, T-Pain isn’t all that much of a bother – as a figure, he’s likable enough, but his collaborations? I can’t tell one from another, aside from Bun’s flawless delivery, this song’s the same as “All the Above” or “Thug Ringtone for Hustlers in a Maybach, Holla” or whatever singles he makes. The album steps it back up for the Young Jeezy spotted “Just Like That,” and the cut represents my feeling towards much of the album – a good track that doesn’t have anything recognizable enough to keep it in mind. “Put It Down” features another good-if-not-amazing Boi-1da beat, and a (yet again) martyr to the haters, self-important Drake. “Drizzy Hendrix, I’m just backstage getting stoned”? Really? His use of “the N word” is worth scrutiny – when N.W.A et al came onto the scene, it represented their reality, Drake’s love of the slur is a rich kid’s fantasy. I digress, and “Right Now” brings us back – a Pimp C and 2Pac feature? Yes, please. The Trey Songz chorus grooves on through, and the Pac verse reminds how much we missed, the man sounds great over a modern cut.

As with both Bun records before it, Trill OG is hit or miss. It’s marred by poor collaborations – Drake aside, Gucci Mane is painfully bad on “Countin’ Money All Day” – and boasts a good amount of enjoyable yet forgettable fodder. On the other hand, the album’s production is one of its strong suits. Producer Big E makes an impression with “Speak Easy,” which features Twista in fine form, Houston producer Steve Below holds quite a presence – handling six of the album’s tracks, and they’re all worthy contributions. His “Lights, Camera, Action” soars, and “I Git Down for Mine” allows Bun to rep Pimp C and Houston with swagger. Drumma Boy drops the strong “Snow Money,” as Bun raps yet again about drug money. Play-n-Skillz offer the oh-so-Houston “Ridin’ Slow” on which Bun and Slim Thug show off in unison, it’s another good cut, but it all feels a bit played. If anyone has a right to play the typical Southern rap, it’s Bun, but that doesn’t make the music exciting.

Yet, if it’s exciting you want, there’s the DJ Premier fronted “Let ‘Em Know” up next. Bun’s jumping onto the remembering Guru bandwagon, but there’s no better camp to circle up with. Bun remembers the NY MC, Pimp C, and scoffs at big talking fakes. “All a Dream” is the penultimate cut, and it’s pretty damn foot-tappin’ good, but it’s more than a tad heavy handed, although, Bun telling rap wannabes “If I did it you can too” is refreshing amongst the “you can’t do what I can do” attitude of rap. Speaking of which, Drake returns for the album’s closer “It’s Been a Pleasure,” and the song is more his than Bun’s. Dismiss me as a hater if you wish, but the Canadian Drake singing “For the H-Town” is ridiculous, it’s like Nas reppin’ California or Snoop moving to NY, but no one seems to mind seeing as it’s the infallible golden boy. As usual, Drake manages to come off as a conceited seven year old boy who prides himself on having a bigger sand box than you. I’m never fond of an MC taking the closing note on another’s LP, and it being Drake on a Bun B record makes it all the more painful.

Overall, this album is a good one, but not a great one. It’s too filled with standards to be a game changer. Bun’s been holding it up as the album to return Houston to the spotlight, and with Chamillionare stuck in whatever place he’s in, Bun’s probably the man for the job. The two Drake appearances drag the record down surprisingly, making the great Bun all the more Drizzy’s spokesman. Let’s hope Bun doesn’t take the job full time, he’s got too much of his own to say. In the wake of Pimp C’s passing, Bun still may be unready to stand alone, but let’s hope he can eventually make that LP that simply rests on his own shoulders.


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