Our new video series presents a closer look at -- and an exclusive performance from -- the cool artists hitting the Billboard Tastemakers chart, which brings you the top-selling albums each week based on an influential panel of indie stores and small regional chains.
Bun B Live: Billboard Tastemakers
Towering above New York City with a mic in his left hand, Bun B tore through tracks from his latest solo album, "Trill O.G.," in the latest edition of Billboard.com's Tastemakers video series. As he maintained a steady flow and high intensity for songs like "Trillionaire," "Let 'Em Know" and classic cut "Draped Up," the UGK rapper proved that he's still at the top of his game.
"I'm not trying to do things that are gonna make everybody happy," said Bun B as he sat on the rooftop of Mophonics Studios in Manhattan. Despite the claim, "Trill O.G." has connected with both critics and hip-hop fans alike: the disc earned a rare 5 Mic "classic" rating from The Source and debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 upon its August release.
Video Below: Bun B performs "Let 'Em Know."
Still, the Houston MC believes that sales figures weren't a concern when he began rolling out "Trill O.G." "I naturally could have led with a Drake single that commercially would have been more viable for the project," Bun B says. "But for this project, it was about trying to shape the future of this art that I love."
For over 15 years, Bun B and rhyming partner Pimp C released hard-hitting Southern rap and worked with artists like Jay-Z, Outkast and T.I. as Underground Kingz, or UGK. After Pimp C's untimely death in Dec. 2007, Bun B continued as a solo artist with 2008's 'II Trill" while issuing the UGK disc "UGK 4 Life" last year.
With third solo effort "Trill O.G.," Bun B has invited an impressive list of guests (Young Jeezy, Twista, Gucci Mane) to help him deliver a statement of individuality over materialism. That's why Bun B says that "Trillionaire," the album's first single featuring T-Pain, has more to do with his self-respect than his bank account.
Video Below: Bun B performs "Draped Up"
"I wanted to let people know that being a trillionaire is not about money, it's not about your place in society… it's more about a state of mind and having peace with yourself," says Bun B.
As Bun B continues releasing magnetic hip-hop, he has also become an elder statesmen of sorts in the hip-hop world. The rapper has helped oversee the careers of Drake and Trey Songz as well as up-and-coming MCs like Pill and Killer Mike. "It was time for someone to step up to the plate to show guidance to the next generation of MCs," says Bun B.
Text by Jason Lipshutz