Pimp C remembered a day after his death

February 4, 2008 3:38:08 PM PST
Pimp C was a Southern rap innovator whose work influenced a generation of current superstars. His sudden death on Tuesday at 33 has the Houston rap community again mourning a life that was cut much too short. Pimp C, born Chad Butler, is the fourth area rapper to die before his 40th birthday in this decade.

Pimp C was one-half of the rap group Underground Kingz or UGK, whose latest album hit No. 1 on the Billboard hip hop charts earlier this year. It was the seventh major label release from the Port Arthur duo, who influenced everyone from T.I. to Lil' Jon.

"That's what everybody grew up listening to in the South," fellow Houston rapper Lil' Flip said Wednesday in an interview with The Associated Press. "UGK is to the South what Run DMC was to New York."

Pimp C was found dead in the Mondrian hotel in Los Angeles. Officials said he apparently died in bed and there were no signs of foul play. Autopsy and toxicology results won't be available for up to eight weeks.

Pimp C's death follows the passing of DJ Screw, who died of a reported overdose in 2000 at 30; Big Hawk, who was shot to death last year at 36, and Big Moe, who was also 33 and died after a heart attack in October.

Flip, who opened some shows for UGK when he was still in high school, said he got a lot of advice about the music industry and life in general from Pimp C, including to always look his best.

"He influenced me to be fly at all times," Lil' Flip said of Pimp C, who was known for his flamboyant rap persona where he often wore fur coats and was dripping with diamonds. "He said 'Flip, don't go out with dirty nails and a microphone. You've got to be fly if you want to get that money.' "

When Flip, who has two platinum albums, learned of Pimp C's death on Tuesday, the only thing he could think to do was to hit the studio and record a tribute. That offering, which can be heard on his Myspace page, samples some of Pimp C's most recognizable lyrics and thanks him for appearing in some of Flip's videos.

The loss of Pimp C will leave a void in the local rap scene and the remaining rappers should put aside their differences and work together, Flip said. He remembered Pimp C's fierce loyalty to the region and its music and was amazed at how he would take on anyone who tried to criticize it.

"He would do anything to represent the South," Flip said. "He would battle a million people just to protect the South and our music."

Pimp C's unique voice and often graphic depictions of the struggles of life surrounded by poverty and drugs in Houston and South Texas shaped how rappers across the South make music.

He produced most of UGK's music and the constant perfectionist never thought songs were quite right, even some of their biggest hits.

But in a 2005 interview with the AP he said his favorite songs were "Diamonds & Wood" from the 1996 album "Ridin' Dirty" and "Wood Wheel" from 2001's "Dirty Money."

"I like them records," he said. "When I'm gone that's how I want to be remembered. That represents us well. That's how we want to be represented."

Funeral arrangements for the rapper are pending.