UGK's final studio album, 4 Life, is due out March 31, and for everyone involved it's been an emotional journey. Back in 2007, Pimp C was found dead in his hotel room, the result of an accidental overdose of codeine medication combined with a pre-existing sleep condition, according to the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office. 4 Life is both [artist id="1161671"]UGK[/artist]'s last studio album and a tribute to [artist id="1318358"]Pimp C[/artist].
[artist id="1281375"]Mike Dean[/artist], who mixed the upcoming album, said Bun B and Pimp C originally wanted their 2007 LP Underground Kingz to be a double-disc effort, so naturally there was a lot of unused material left over from the sessions. A lot of this material makes up 4 Life, which includes both Bun B and Pimp C on every track.
"It was an extremely emotional experience for me," Dean said of mixing the record. "I worked with Pimp C since he was 14 years old, and he was one of my best friends."
Dean also said that the album includes some of UGK's "nastiest raps ever." And while Bun B originally told MTV News that it wasn't likely the album would feature guest appearances, now there are quite a few, including [artist id="1133"]Snoop Dogg[/artist], [artist id="6431"]E-40[/artist], B Legit, [artist id="1245546"]Lil Boosie[/artist], [artist id="1933073"]Webbie[/artist], [artist id="17853"]Too Short[/artist], [artist id="1693712"]Raheem Devaughn[/artist], [artist id="1616129"]Sleepy Brown[/artist], [artist id="1240040"]Akon[/artist] and [artist id="1526238"]Big Gipp[/artist].
Production on the album came from Mannie Fresh, Akon, Cory Mo — who Dean says was a good friend of C's — and others, many of whom are up-and-coming producers who were protégés of Pimp C.
The first single, "Da Game Been Good to Me," has been out for a few weeks, but Dean said the next single is likely to be "Still on the Grind," featuring Raheem Devaughn. He also mentioned two of his other favorite tracks on the album, "Steel Your Mind," featuring Too Short and Snoop Dogg, and "She Luv," which features just the classic raps of Pimp C and Bun B.
The entire album includes a lot of singing by Pimp C, but without Auto-Tune — a method that has become increasingly popular (and some say abused) in the industry. Giving us Pimp C's probable reaction to applying Auto-Tune to his vocals, Dean laughed and said, "[He] would've come up from the dead and given me a bi--- slap!"
Dean is really excited about this album, even though it was an emotional challenge to finish it without Pimp C. It did, however, create a new bond between him and Bun B. "We had to make sure the album was extra super-tight because this is UGK's final album," he explained. "Pimp C was usually the one at the studio overlooking the producing and recording, so it was a whole different vibe for Bun B to be doing it — and exciting for him, in a way ... though emotional."
Now that Mike Dean is finished with 4 Life, he will be producing and mixing part of Bun B's upcoming solo album, as well as Mike Jones' new album Voice of the Streets (Dean is also shooting the video for "On Top of the Covers," a track off of Streets), Slim Thug's upcoming Boss of All Bosses, and Clipse's upcoming Till the Casket Drops.