It’s a warm night in Port Arthur, Texas. UGK is riding around in a chromed-out, candy paint black Cadillac. Dirty Money is their conversation. Each track is a snapshot into their life, as they focus on women, luxury, and power.
In a black ‘Lac mackin’ wit’ a bop in a fade
Boy, we fat stack packin’, steady choppin’ on blades…blades…blades
– Bun B, Choppin Blades
When Pimp C and Bun B rap about women, they only mention them as objects of sexual desire or assets. I detest how women are only referred to in derogatory terms on Dirty Money, straight from its start on Let Me See It, a vulgar call-out for the women they want to be with. Other tracks like Like a Pimp and Pimpin’ Ain’t No Illusion highlight the cold world of the pimp game where being cordial with women is bad for business, and worse for life as they tell stories of betrayal on Ain’t That a Bitch.
To many niggas out here buying hoes a meal
Nigga that ain’t the way a bitch supposed to feel
– Bun B, Like A Pimp
For UGK, luxury comes directly from their reputation and success. The epitome of their prosperity is cars, chrome wheels, and gold grillz with diamonds in their mouth.
I just spent 60 G’s on a brand new Eldo-reeze
Black-on-black, drop top ‘lac, Northstar fifth wheel on back
– Pimp C, Wood Wheel
And their power is linked in part to loyalty, specifically to their hometown of Port Arthur. Before Dirty Money’s release, UGK gained national shine through their feature on Jay Z’s Big Pimpin’ in 1999 and Three 6 Mafia’s Sippin’ on Some Syrup in 2000. Publicity did not affect their authenticity though, as this album stays true and loyal to their life in Port Arthur.
Ever since “Big Pimpin” I’ve been seeing the clones
Now everybody on they video doing a Sweet Jones
– Pimp C, PA Nigga
The duo’s authenticity shows on my favorite track, Dirty Money. The title track is where their conversation turns deep and honest, as they rap about the dangers of greed and the struggles of success.
Fools act like they striving for it hit
Total Request Live and blow it
Knowing ain’t a giving and nothing is
See all this candy-coated and bluffing is
Detrimental to our beautiful black southern kids
– Bun B, Dirty Money
The frame I set in the beginning is easy to imagine, partly due to the production work of Pimp C and N.O. Joe. Dirty Money’s vibe is laid back and lends itself to a chill conversation with easy-to-follow lyrics. Most of the samples used come from old school R&B and hip-hop tracks. In terms of production, my favorite songs are Look at Me, with a beat so catchy and a vocal sample from Richard Pryor so clever it rises to the top, and Choppin’ Blades. The latter’s sample of E-40’s Captain Save A Hoe syncs perfectly with the relaxed atmosphere of UGK’s album.
Bun B holds his weight lyrically and adds nuance to UGK’s conversation. His verses on “Dirty Money”, “Wood Wheel”, and “Ain’t That a Bitch” are easily my favorites. B’s commenting on UGK’s rap influence outside of the South and the struggle of remaining true to UGK’s roots adds depth to the album:
Man, two niggas got some nuts to graduate to mainstream status
From being two broke bastards from off the cuts, growing up in a town
Where population fifty thousand, only 3 high schools, but 8 sets of low-income housing
– Bun B, Ain’t That a Bitch
Before listening to Dirty Money, my awareness of Southern hip hop (outside of Atlanta) was limited to chopped and screwed remixes and the film Hustle and Flow. If it weren’t for the vulgar lyrics and diminishment of women, I’d appreciate this album. UGK is a solid rap duo led by Bun B’s lyrical strength and Pimp C capable production. Dirty Money is certainly genuine and is a solid representation of the Underground Kingz of the South.