Today marks a pivotal moment in Houston rap history. Eighteen years ago today, Jay-Z and UGK dropped “Big Pimpin” as the final single from Hov’s Vol. 3 album, originally released in December of 1999.
By now, you know the aftermath of “Big Pimpin,” how it made UGK household names and how Pimp’s eight bar verse could pretty much be the Pledge of Allegiance in Texas, if need be. But do you know the back story on how the song and video even came to be? And the shenanigans that ensued?
1. Pimp C Refused To Do The Song … Initially
Jay-Z is a huge UGK fan, so much so that he has a copy of Ridin’ Dirty, the group’s 1996 album. He calls up Bun B, thinking Bun would realize its him. Bun thinks somebody is playing on his phone and hangs up. Hov calls again, convincing Bun that it is indeed the dude who sold 5 million off his third album and tells him, “I want UGK on my next album.”
Pimp C on the other hands, could care less about a Jay-Z. Why? He was supposed to be on “Just A Week Ago” from Vol. 2 but he wasn’t about to cross Eastern Standard Time to do it. In his eyes, Jay wanted him on the song, not the other way around. Jay should fly to Houston, go record the song with Pimp and fly back. Thus, Pimp doesn’t get on “Just A Week Ago.”
When Pimp finally gets the beat from Timbaland, he refuses to even rap over it because he hated Timbaland’s flutes. Mr. Lee, in a Complex documentary about Pimp recalls him saying, “Man, what the f*** is this s***? What the f*** is this? They gon’ send me this garbage-ass motherf*****’ trash can-ass beat? To rap with Jay Z?!”
2. Pimp Declares He’s Only Giving The Beat 8 Bars, And Only 8 Bars
Hating the flutes, hating the record, hating everything about the song, Pimp tells then Jive A&R Jeff Sledge he’s only giving Jay-Z 8 bars on it. Why? Because Pimp being fed up led him to being fed up with Jay-Z. Of course, they’re probably the most memorable 8 bars in history.
3. Pimp altered the entire course of the “Big Pimpin” video
The mink coat in the Miami summer? Pimp. Him not doing the shoot until his brand new Mercedes got to Miami? Pimp. Making sure he had the hot video vixen of the time near him for his scene? Pimp. Bun had originally missed the flight to Trinidad where the video was originally shot but made the next one, thinking Pimp would be there. Nope, Pimp is still in Houston. So instead production was moved to Miami just to accommodate Pimp’s demands and he absolutely stole the show. It was of course, the first time America got a whiff of the “Pimp C” image.
As for the mink? Pimp kept it plain, “TV ain’t got no temperature.”
And there you have it. Arguably the greatest karaoke song ever almost didn’t happen thanks to, a phone call and a beat Pimp didn’t like and an iconic video almost went in a different direction.