Willie D was very close to Pimp C. The Geto Boy and former boxer and radio host spoke with Houstoned Rocks earlier this afternoon about Pimp’s musical soulfulness, self-confidence, anger and influence, and threw in a mean Pimp C impersonation while he was at it. –John Nova Lomax
HR: I saw a UGK show at South By this year in Austin, and before the show, I got kinda sucked into the UGK posse backstage and I was right behind Pimp. I saw you and Pimp talking, and it looked like he regarded you as something like an older brother from the way y’all were talking. Is that true? When did y’all meet?
Willie D: Man, man when did I meet Pimp C? Musta been about 1991 or 1992. Yeah, Pimp was like a little brother to me, you know? I always wanted to see him do well. We spoke a lot in confidence.
What were some of the things you liked about his skills as a producer and a rapper?
First and foremost, I always liked the fact that his music was always soulful, it always had a soulful groove to it. That’s one of the first things you’ve got to know – if you want to make good music, make soulful music.
I always liked that about him, and the fact that he was so passionate about it. Reeeal passionate about the music. And lyrically, he had a style that was very unique in the sense that when Pimp C would speak, everybody would know that was Pimp C. He never tried to sound like anybody else – he wasn’t afraid to talk about how he felt, he was not afraid to face the criticism that came with it sometimes, when people disagree with what you have to say. So that’s what I liked about him. I liked the brashness. I liked that a lot.
That speaks to my next question. What was it that you liked about him as a person?
Pimp was very introspective also. I liked to refer to him as a quiet storm. He always had something going on. He was always thinking, no matter what he was doing – thinking. He internalized a lot of things. He was very passionate about whatever he was involved in.
If he loved you, he wasn’t afraid to tell you. If he didn’t like you, he wasn’t afraid to tell you. That’s the kinda dude he was.
Almost every time we would get together he would start reciting some of my lyrics. He would be like (does spot-on Pimp C impersonation) 'Maaaan. See Willie D, man, that’s why-I-likeya mayne, that’s why-I-cut-fa-ya mayne. You know? See you be talkin’ that real shit man.' That was Pimp, ya know? You ain’t never gonna hear that kinda voice again…
Naw, that was what I liked. He wasn’t ashamed of where he came from and let that show in his voice and there was a real musical tone to it.
Exactly. Exactly. When we first came out, a lot of people would knock my voice, knock me. They’d say I was too country or whatever. But Pimp C embraced it. He always liked whatever I did. He liked it, and he would tell anybody who would listen, ‘Willie D inspired me. That was why I got in the game. Willie D’s my favorite rapper.’ And I hear a lot of me in Pimp in terms of his realness in his music, you know, the authenticity in his music. I hear it.
And the thing about it is even though I came before him, he inspired me also, and that to me is like a great indication of leaving your mark. When you can influence your influencers – that’s a testament to how good he was.
It must have been hard for him to see these people come along later and take the most basic parts of him and Bun and you and ‘Face and have such mainstream success with it, with bad music and simple rhymes. Did you ever talk to him about that?
He never appreciated that, because Pimp was very musically inclined. Much more than what I am – I’m a lyricist, but Pimp was really into music. When all of these people started making that music that sounded like his music, he really, really took exception to it.
I know for myself, when I hear all these little particles of Geto Boys-influenced stuff and people are getting all this wealth of mainstream exposure and income off of it…The worst part of it is not that they are imitating it, the worst part is that they are not acknowledging where they got it from. Take a pro athlete, and you ask them ‘Who did you follow when you were growing up?” and a boxer will say “Mohammed Ali” or “I patterned my style after Joe Frazier.” Barry Sanders will say Gale Sayers, or some QB will say he got his from Johnny Unitas.
But with hip-hop, just because it’s such a braggadocious genre of music, it’s not necessarily cool to shine light on another rapper.
Yeah, you always read these kids saying it’s all their own new individual style.
Yeah and that’s funny to me because you can hear the influence. And they say, ‘Well, I’ve heard people say that, but I sound like me.’
Shut the fuck up. You know what you’re doing. You know exactly what you’re doing. How the hell nobody ever sounded like this guy before he sounded like him, now all of a sudden you sound like him and everybody sound like him.
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SHOW ME HOW
When Pimp went to jail it was like the coast is clear. It was like ‘Well, Pimp went to jail. I can jack his style now.’ And that’s kinda what happened. You look at the success a lot of rappers had after Pimp got locked up, and it was straight jack-moves.
I know putting myself in Pimp’s shoes, that would make me feel bitter.
The worst part is the lack of acknowledgment. You’ve had cats out there like T.I., David Banner and Jeezy that’ll tell you, ‘Yeah man, UGK was what we came up on, that was my stuff.’ And you can hear it. You can definitely hear the influence.
The worst thing about death is the void. It ain’t that the person is dead, it’s just that void. If Pimp was still livin’ and we knew that he was alive and just livin’ overseas and we just wasn’t gonna lay eyes on him, but it’s just the void, knowing that he’s not there anymore, period. And there’s absolutely no choice in getting any of that extra energy and talent that he possessed. That’s over. All we have now is the catalog and the stuff that he was working on. Which is real good.