by Jason Mellard / Center for Texas Music History at Texas State
This Week in Texas Music History, we zero in on the real and true in Houston hip-hop.
On October 18, 2005, hip-hop artist Bun B released his first solo album Trill. The record came at a pivotal moment for Houston hip-hop, and perhaps no artist was better poised to usher in this new era than Bun B was. Hailing from Port Arthur, Bun was partners with Pimp C in the breakthrough group UGK, the Underground Kings. UGK solidified Houston hip-hop’s—and really much of the Dirty South’s—affinity for soul and slow funk samples and shaped the region’s lyrical themes and lingo. In the 1990s, the group joined the Geto Boys and underground legend DJ Screw in putting Houston on the national hip-hop map. By 2000, UGK’s collaborations with Three 6 Mafia and Jay Z primed America for a hip-hop with Houston hands gripping the wheel, and in 2005, just as Trill dropped, Houston took over.
Bun B stepped into his own with Trill. That same year Mike Jones released “Still Tippin’” with Paul Wall and Slim Thug, and Chamillionaire dropped the single “Ridin.’” Together, this music took Houston to the top of the national charts, and the Bayou City’s sound reverberated far and wide. Bun B moved from success to success as an artist, and is today a ubiquitous civic leader, activist, and entrepreneur representing Houston hip-hop’s myriad contributions to Texas music and culture.
Lance Scott Walker. DJ Screw: A Life in Slow Revolution. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2022.
Lance Scott Walker. Houston Rap Tapes: An Oral History of Bayou City Hip-Hop. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2018.