On April 26, 1988, 23 years ago today, UGK kicked off a long and influential career with the release of their cassette-only debut, The Southern Way. It's impossible to overstate the duo's Texas-sized influence on Southern rap.
As showcased on seminal albums like Ridin' Dirty and Super Tight, Bun B and Pimp C's slow-rolling, tough-talking grooves continue to define Dirty South soundscapes today. For proof, look no further than this list of UGK disciples, followers, and admirers.
Chamillionaire: You can make a case for every Houston rapper from the last decade being on this list. UGK's influence is evident on records of the Houston triumvirate Slim Thug, Paul Wall, and Chamillionaire. Cham typifies the hustle and flow of Bun and Pimp. Besides, C. Butler was moving butts with his melodic singing way before Cham made it his trademark.
Lupe Fiasco: More admirer than follower, Lupe Fiasco has long talked about UGK's influence on Chi-town hip-hop. "They were the dynamic duo," Lupe told Peter Rosenberg at a Bun B release party. "They were the soundtrack for my neighborhood where I grew up."
Slim Thug:Thugga's DIY attitude and crusty rhymes hearken to UGK circa 90s. Thugga drags his deep, thick Texas drawl through the same themes heard on UGK's early work.
Yelawolf: Yelawolf gets his experimental side from OutKast, his hair from exotic dancers, and his zest from OutKast's Lone Star State contemporaries UGK. When he finally got the official stamp of approval on "Good to Go," off his Trunk Muzik 0-60 mixtape, he sped up his rhymes in a bid to out-perform Bun B. That was purely out of respect for his idol.
Rick Ross: Rozay has built his career on stretching snowflakes atop 808s, and chat boards will forever debate the authenticity of his drug raps. The influence of Scarface and UGK on his music, however, cannot be denied. Pimp and Bun were rhyming about that Perivian white while Rick was still a Correctional Officer in Florida.
Young Buck: Buck Marley is among a new generation of rappers who honed their craft by studying UGK's catalog. Buck showcased a combination of grit and flair on his debut, Straight Outta Cashville, something UGK perfected with their yin-yan approach.
Lil Wayne: Weezy F. Baby and his Hot Boys cohorts were heavily influenced by UGK. That thing where he accentuates his syllables? A guy by the name of Chad Butler was doing that while Wayne was still in Underoos.
Juvenile: The Dirty South boom of the '90s ushered in a bevy of successful rap crews, from Cash Money to No Limit. Stylistically, UGK designed the blueprint that inspired many of the rappers in those crews, including Juvenile and B.G.
Drake: Drake has a Ph.D. in UGK-ology. He shouts out Bun and Pimp all the time, proclaims UGK for Life, and even graced Pimp's "What Up" last year.
T.I.: While T.I.P. eventually carved out his own line, nothing prepared him for success better than UGK's blend of brash boasts and thunderous beats. The ATL-ien gave props where props is due on his UGK remake, "Front Back"
Freddie Gibbs: Gangsta Gibbs is living proof of UGK's region-blind influence. While many of UGK's disciples are typically from the Dirty Dity, this Midwest MC shows that kids were bumping "Ridin' Dirty" even in tiny Gary, Indiana.
Big K.R.I.T.: Mississippi's Big K.R.I.T. epitomizes UGK's greatest qualities. He's talented, smart, soulful, and incredibly passionate about music. "I'm UGK-influenced," K.R.I.T. rhymes proudly on "Country Shit" (Remix). The group's fingerprint was all over last year's K.R.I.T. Wuz Here and continues to shape K.R.I.T.'s sound. Bun B finally gave his blessing on the excellent "Country Shit (Remix)," off Mixtape of the Year candidate Return of 4eva.