Rocks Off has always been kind of bitter about not being able to take Bun B's class at Rice University, so when we heard that he'd be speaking at Kashmere High School on Tuesday, we jumped on the opportunity to sit in.
The rapper/educator and Ronda Prince, COO of Rap-A-Lot Records, met with student musicians and teachers to give constructive advice about their futures in the music industry in a Career Day round table sponsored by the Grammy Foundation. Houston audio engineer Rodney Alejandro acted as mediator of the event and GT Mayne from 97.9 The Box provided some extra music.
Bun started things off by giving a bit of the history behind putting out his music and getting signed with the late Pimp C. The two would travel from Port Arthur to a flea market in Houston every weekend, which is where they were first discovered.
After some time in the H, they realized that they would probably always be No. 2 to the Geto Boys and began commuting to the major Texas cities to try and become No. 1 in the state.
"No one wanted it as bad as I did," Bun recalled.
He mentioned the fact that most of the students in the room had considerably more competition than he had as an up-and-coming artist. "I was in Houston rapping against every rapper I could until they said, 'OK, I give up, you're the best," said Bun, although he added he remembered getting "tore up" by ESG in 1993.
Bun encouraged the Kashmere students, whose school is in danger of shutting down, to graduate and go to college. "Sometimes you have to sit in your dorm alone. You might be looking at your Twitter timeline and no one's tweeting," Bun warned.
"But keep grinding and you won't have to worry about anyone tweeting you - you'll be a trending topic."
"I grew up in a duplex sharing a bathroom with another family," Bun added. "Now I have my own bathroom, all of my kids have bathrooms, and I even have a guest bathroom if one of y'all want to come stay over."
Bun finished his piece by mentioning that the music industry is not for the faint of heart, especially these days: "I know people who wanted to be successful and seen in the music business that are now in the front pews at a church trying to get as far away from the industry as they can."
Perhaps a reference to Malice from Clipse? The two recently participated in an open forum about religion and hip-hop.
Ronda Prince, a Kashmere graduate, spoke next about being a strong female in a male-dominated industry. She remembered what her brother, Rap-A-Lot CEO J. Prince, was doing with his label when she was busy getting her bachelor's and master's degrees, and brought up a note her mother would leave on the refrigerator when they were growing up: "If you do today what others won't, you can do tomorrow what others can't."
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She reminded the young women in the quaint band room to respect themselves and the image they want to convey. "Grind like a man has to grind. Respect is what you get based on your performance and how you represent yourself," she advised.
After the forum, the students got the chance to have a jam session with Alejandro. Bun and Rap-A-Lot plan on continuing to inspire the students at Kashmere High School, in hopes that its legacy also continues and helps the careers of aspiring musicians who have as much determination as a scrappy young Port Arthur MC once had.