Rapper Bun B talks hip-hop mentorship, Occupy Houston, and Penn State

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With Rap-A-Lot records releasing their 25th Anniversary album in December, some of hip-hop’s heavyweights will be paying homage to the trailblazing label.

Rapper Bun B, a member of the legendary group UGK, is among those who will be appearing on the album. Bun B sat down with theGrio.com’s music editor Kyle Harvey (@HarveyWins) to discuss Rap-A-Lot’s legacy, Occupy Houston, and why the Penn State scandal touches a nerve.

Harvey: It was announced earlier this week that Rap-A-Lot would be releasing its 25th Anniversary compilation in December.

Bun B: It’ll be a box set coming out in December.

Can you speak on the importance of the Rap-A-Lot imprint in the south?

For a lot of us in the south, it began with Rap-A-Lot and the Luke Skywalkers and for us to support something that was a direct reflection of the way we lived. Hip-hop is a reflection of the society and world that we live, but Rap-A-Lot spoke for our region, which is necessary too. That’s what the Geto Boys did for us. Everything that they did pretty much encompassed what Houston, Texas was at the time.

Did the founder of Rap-A-Lot, (J. Prince) even back 86’, have the foresight to see what his label would ultimately become?

Absolutely, absolutely. J. Prince always used to say that the east coast and west coast was the bread and everything in between was the meat. Once the meat realizes how powerful it is, they’re gonna need more bread for that sandwich.

You’re giving me quotes (laughs).

That’s not mine! That’s Prince’s (laughs).

A lot of younger emcees look for respect by being on a song with a more established artist, and it seems like you’re one of the lyricists who can give those artists that platform. Do you consider yourself to be an unofficial mentor to new artists in the game?

Oh it’s not unofficial at all. It’s very real. Most would be surprised with the people that I do mentor…that I probably wouldn’t necessarily do a song with. These are the artists that stay in their own lane. I still have knowledge to contribute to help them get where they need to be to further their careers.

Do you feel that mentoring is something that’s been lost in hip-hop?

Well its hard to say its been lost, because I don’t think it’s ever existed. In the early days of hip-hop, no one knew where they were gonna be or how solid their position was in the game. Everyone had to work to lock themselves in. I don’t fault any of the forefathers that couldn’t reach back, but what they did do was go through the obstacles of the industry so we could avoid them.

You’re one of the more vocal rappers on Twitter. We at theGrio have been following you during the Occupy Wall Street movement protests. Can you speak about Occupy Houston?

We’ve been very peaceful up until the last couple of days. We’ve had a good relationship with the city, the mayor’s office and the police department, but literally on Election Night [last week] is when they came down and tore down the tarps and people got arrested. It was enough altercations to let people know that the movement is real and its not going anywhere. The laws in Houston aren’t in our favor to protest but it’s interesting how arrests were made on the night of Super Tuesday. We’re not against the government but we’d like for them to recognize us.

To acknowledge?

That’s right.

Should rappers use Twitter as a tool to inform people about politics and not just as a way to promote themselves?

Whether it be through social media or interviews, it’s just about your voice in general. People and artists need to be more responsible on what they talk about. Don’t just touch on certain issues. Be about it and do your research. Get the information so you can inform. So if you ain’t about that life, don’t even play. Don’t retweet, don’t do anything. Stay in your lane, go to the club and make your money. When you get to acting like you care, you start to present yourself as someone who genuinely cares, just to get some followers, that’s when your voice can be come dangerous.

Let me ask you about Penn State. How crazy is that? Apparently the alleged victims were at-risk youth. What are you thoughts on that?

Well we must protect the children at all cost; particularly the at-risk children. There’s a reason they’re labeled as that. They are the most vulnerable; they need the most attention, love, the inspiration. It’s unfortunate that people can manipulate that type of “wide-eyed-ness” for their own benefit. Abuse is something you wake up with every day.

I’ve played football growing up. And with you being from Texas, the sport is like a religion. The connection between a young boy and his coach…

[The connection between] a young boy and his coach is ridiculous! For some kids it’s the first father figure they have. To twist that relationship is beyond me.

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