For countless reasons, Ridin’ Dirty, UGK’s third full-length LP, hits as close to home in 2020 as it does when it was first released 24 years ago on July 30, 1996. This doesn’t surprise Bun B, nor would it bewilder Pimp C if he were still physically among us today.
Coming together to form the Underground Kingz in the late 80s, the two Port Arthur, Texas-born musicians knew exactly what they were seeking to achieve when they walked into the studio for their third go-around at a full-length project, creating what unknowingly at the time would inspire two generations (and counting) of what has become quintessential Southern Hip Hop.
The album solidified UGK’s permanent place within the culture, with the group unapologetically speaking for an entire region and paving the way for the artists that came after them, much like the leaders within the East and West coast music scenes were doing. However, pioneering the uncharted Southern frontier for Hip Hop wasn’t an easy task, with Pimp C and Bun B running into various sets of challenges along the way, such as proving themselves simultaneously as innovators of the genre and as masters of the craft.
Twenty four years ago, on the record’s release date, a commercial aired on television promoting the project without involving the creative input of Pimp and Bun. When the pair saw the advertisement for the first time, both were perplexed as to why the record company associated them with what was, in their minds, an unapproved visual incorporating a scene with a desert and a limousine, the furthest two components of UGK’s day-to-day reality. That disconnect between the music, the mission and the industry grew into what would become a challenging and reoccurring pattern, with the pair having to consistently balance not compromising who they are, while also not angering the record company or resulting in their music being shelved.
“I may have records that are going to get more radio spins than others, but that’s not the kind of music that resonates with people as deeply as records such as ‘One Day,’” Bun B says. “That’s what you want to do as an artist. You want to touch as many people as deeply as possible in the moment. Ridin’ Dirty, for us, was the first time we were able to do that. We were able to do what we wanted to do, and say what we wanted to say, and that’s why the album best represented us.”
Salute to Bun and Pimp (RIP) for this timeless piece of Dirty South Hip Hop history!