Release Date: Mar 31, 2009
Record label: Jive
What else is there left to say about UGK? Thankfully, their legacy as one of the most important acts in the history of rap has been cemented. Unfortunately, we reached this point due to a few regrettable events: the incarceration of founding member Pimp C and eventually, and most notably, his death at the age of 33 in December 2007. As a group, UGK basically birthed Southern rap as we know it.
"Back from the dead." Delivered by Pimp C, these are among the first words you hear on UGK 4 Life, and unfortunately, it's a sentiment delivered way less metaphorically than we're used to. Lives are cut short with a sad frequency in hip-hop, but Pimp C's early death was something of an anomaly: too often, ascendant talents are snuffed out before we get a full glimpse of their capabilities. But by 2007, UGK had become something like Houston's answer to Gang Starr, a partnership that thrived on consistency and longevity while their peer groups either broke up, soldiered on in an unknowable format, or just fell the fuck off completely (I'm looking at you 8Ball & MJG).
Anyone familiar with the Notorious B.I.G.'s posthumous Duets: The Final Chapter or Tupac's parallel Better Dayz can understand how laudable the move is by rapper Bun B, UGK's surviving member, in pulling out UGK 4 Life. Faced with the opportunity to turn the Port Arthur duo's seventh and final album into an all-out lovefest for Pimp C, who died of an overdose Dec. 4, 2007, and profit in a big way as a result, Bun took the highest road that could handle his tricked-out low rider and released the album he and Pimp were making in the wake of 2007's Underground Kingz reunion.