Bun B Bun BTrill O.G.
With the legacy of UGK definitively at an end, unless we’re about to witness the release of another album with material that is unpublished or pending publication –you never know: look at 2Pac or J Dilla– Bun B is returning to his solo career, that of the trilogy or Trillogy without the deceased Pimp C, to try to take advantage of the popularity and unanimous respect that he has earned in the hip hop community. We only need to take a look at the releases over the last two years, with our star doing many collaborations and cameos, some of them also linked to East Coast figures, to see that during this time, the rapper from Texas has been experiencing a second artistic youth. It seems reasonable to me, and I think he deserves to squeeze this state of popularity for all it’s worth: after struggling for nearly two decades to be something more than a local celebrity and a stage icon who isn’t on the global sales charts, the time has finally come for him to reap the fruits of what he sowed at the head of one of the best rap groups of all time.
To make a profit from this roll that he’s on, the strategy was very clear and, in a sense, predictable: he needed a consensus sound to make his new album stand out, remaining faithful to his southern roots, but also more domesticated and accessible to the larger public. In the same way that UGK’s swan song was a superb field study of Texas rap, with an overwhelming selection of damp, organic beats, in “Trill O.G.” the hotter formula predominates right now on the circuit, a stylistic, expressive mosaic that attempts to establish a virtual connection between the three great prototypes of southern sound: the Young Money sound, amply represented here by Drake and his faithful sidekick on the beats, Boi-1da; the Young Jeezy sound, with a more bombastic, aggressive style; and the Rap-A-Lot style, less present than we would like, but still out there and playing a starring role in the recording.
Boi-1da and Drake made a good showing the complex challenge of giving Bun B’s harsh, mature, somewhat rustic sound greater commercial, melodic, pop expertise. Their two contributions shine and boost the album up to its highest, most demanding heights, however much “It’s Been a Pleasure”, one of the album’s cum laude moments, is still one of Drake’s old songs, which you can find on one of his mixtapes, recycled now to end the tracklist in style. It’s got dust and cobwebs on it, but it’s still red-hot emotion, pure fire. The album is also excellent, I insist, in the few-and-far-between moments when our man focuses on Houston and Texas old school: “Chuuch”, a piece that sets a high standard with its cocktail of gospel, fat basses, sweaty funk, and aggressive rhymes, or “Ridin’ Slow”, with its slowed-down tempo, vocal choruses, and funkoid rhythmic bass.
Nevertheless, the two most relevant, excellent episodes of the lot, in turn hide the two big surprises in the contents. First, the already broadcast and assimilated encounter with DJ Premier in “Let ‘Em Know”. Okay, the production isn’t in the top 10, or even in the top 20 best beats of his career, but he chews up the rest of the album’s competitors fairly easily and spits them out. He not only manages to make Bun B come to his turf, when the easiest thing for a New York beatmaker would have been to hand in a southern-inspired bass and be done with it, demonstrating once again that he has an overpowering personality that never loses steam, and that also injects a lot of drama and excitement into his discourse. It’s a great single, no two ways about it. The second great moment comes with “Right Now”, with two guests from the great beyond: Pimp C and Tupac Shakur, both of them, I would swear, with unpublished verses, that were maybe sent via Ouija board.
And this is where the excellence ends. Irritating bragging like “Trillionaire”, with the annoying T-Pain, a.k.a. “how to ruin a song with just one chorus”, or “All I Dream”, which is overloaded with sugar, throw off the overall balance, which also suffers from the presence of three or four other songs that are fillers, bland, really mediocre pieces that really drag the album down. “Trill O.G.” claims to be an essentially emotional, opening work, but it is more convincing emotionally. When he appeals to the skin, to the senses, when he plays with the melodies and the most palpable ins and outs of the feelings, his success is consistent, sure, repairing, and probably the most solid of his three solo titles; but when he tries to blend together all of the possible currents swirling around the current southern map, when he is too determined to get consensus and commercial projection, cramming in a mix of Auto-tune, female choruses, R&B, and lighter productions, the result is more arguable and unbalanced. On the verge of turning 40, Bun B wants his piece of the pie. Nobody blames him. On the contrary: we’re thrilled that he has decided to do it with such a competent album, but it’s starting to be evident that we’re really going to miss the eternal Pimp C. David Broc Bun B Ft Drake - It´s Been A Pleasure Bun B - Chuuch [Trill OG]