When your first name is Pimp, obviously you are a bold, bold man. But aside from his endearingly brash appeal, Pimp C was somebody who his friends and industry counterparts describe as genuine, big-hearted and funny.
Pimp C (real name: Chad Butler) was found dead Tuesday in his Los Angeles hotel room. As half of UGK, named one of MTV News’ Greatest Hip-Hop Groups of All Time, Pimp’s influence was far-reaching, both personally and professionally.
In a statement released late Wednesday afternoon (December 5), Bun B, Pimp C’s longtime friend and the other half of UGK, said, “His genius was unparalleled. His passion was undeniable and his love was unmatched. To say that I lost a friend or brother would never do justice to the relationship we shared. I will never be the same again. Bun B.”
“He was one of the funniest guys I ever met,” Swizz Beatz, who worked on UGK’s most-recent LP, Underground Kingz, said Tuesday night. “His character had me on the floor the whole time. I thought I was the only person in this industry who had some humor, not trying to act like a killer all the time. … It’s sad he went out. It’s sad for hip-hop.”
“You kept it trill way before I had a deal,” Lil’ Flip raps in a Pimp C tribute song, “RIP Pimp C,” released Wednesday morning. “I can’t believe we lost you and [Big] Moe the same year/ We miss you, homie/ We got your back though.”
Pimp wasn’t just a person his peers looked up to professionally; many also considered themselves fortunate to become friends with him.
“My initial reaction was disbelief,” Slim Thug said Wednesday. “I just talked to him the other day. Me and Pimp were cool, for real. I always talk to him and Bun B on the regular. He always reached out to me and made it be known, ’I got love for Slim Thug,’ in interviews he did and everything. He always showed me a whole lot of love. So that’s why it hurt to see a good dude like that go.
“I remember soon as he got out of jail, I went to his video shoot,” Slim added. “And just approaching him like, ’What’s up? I’m Slim Thug.’ And he was like, ’Man, I already know about you. I got love for you, and I respect what you doing. Here goes my number. Call me if you need anything.’ I still got his card. Man … I just want to send my condolences out. I’m just sitting here seeing this happen and wishing Pimp would just wake up.”
“He was cool as hell,” said Outkast’s Big Boi, who was noticeably distraught when he spoke of his friend and “Int’l Players Anthem” co-star during a Tuesday phone call. “He was real laid-back, down-to-earth. We would talk from time to time. We hung out at a couple of clubs a couple of times. He was the real thing. He wasn’t putting on a front or acting out a character: That was really him. Real good dude. So much fun and charisma.
“Once [Outkast] got in the game, we recorded a couple of tracks with each other,” Big added. “We kicked it. Pimp C was living in Atlanta. … He came to the house when we had our little parties. He’s just my dog. Real honorable, real cool, really respected.”
Big said being around Pimp and Bun B was definitely like being around family — his longtime musical clique, the Dungeon Family. “It’s like having a crew,” Big said of working with UGK. “They’re like an extended part of our Dungeon Family. They were real close with [Big] Gipp and Rico [Wade] and pretty much everybody down with us all the way down. When the studio came, it was time to bomb on the tracks and make hits. It was like having Goodie Mob in the room, you know?”
Like many hip-hop fans, especially in the South, Big and Andre 3000 were influenced by the Underground Kingz at a very early age. “We had UGK tapes; we would listen to them on the way to high school,” Big Boi said. “[We listened to] them and 8Ball and MJG. They were two of the groups we looked up to when we was coming up.
“It was the lyricism, man,” Big added about what attracted him to UGK. “They were so real and blunt and honest with it. They said what they wanted to say. They were from Port Arthur, Texas, and represented that and told you what they went through. People have to realize the legacy of Pimp C is gonna live through the music. The boy got a hellafied catalog.”
A lot of the classic songs in that catalog were produced by Pimp. “Dope,” Big said of Pimp’s beats. “Some of the most funkiest, vintage, country rap tunes you ever heard. If you go back and get the CDs and read the credits, you’ll see some of your favorites were produced by Pimp C, as well as him and Bun B together. His talent went a long way as an MC and as a producer.
“A lot of people don’t know that he made damn near all the beats on the old UGK albums,” Big Boi continued. “He had a whole other sound. He gave Texas its sound. He was our Lil Jon, when it comes to a sound. You hear Jon and you know ATL, crunk music. Well, Pimp gave us our own sound out here, with what him and Bun were doing with UGK. He was cold with it. He was a genius at what he did with that.”
The UGK legacy grew by leaps and bounds in 2007. The legends were finally able to capitalize on years of adulation with their first #1 album, Underground Kingz, and their biggest single, “Int’l Players Anthem.”
“I think that  was the rebirth of UGK,” Swizz Beatz said. “They came with a fresh sound, got a new audience, stepped up their lyrical, reached out to a lot of people like myself and Outkast, brought in another side of UGK that was embracing the industry and showed everybody was rocking with them. It was amazing. And the album was good music.”
“Bun B stayed down with him 300 percent [while Pimp was in jail],” Big Boi said. “He kept the UGK name and the Pimp C name alive. When Pimp got out, them boys reconvened and put the album together like [Pimp] ain’t miss a day. It’s a shame to see it go down how it went, now especially with them doing what they doing. It’s a sad situation.”
Pimp’s mother, Weslyn “Wes” Monroe, told Port Arthur’s KFDM News, “It’s a terrible loss to the industry.”
“What a nut he was,” she added with a light smile. “C loved this community. He didn’t leave, even when he came home [from jail], he chose to live here. … So we need a tremendous support from the community.”
[This story was originally published on 12.5.07 at 4:51 p.m. ET]