SXSW is arguably the Holy Grail for awkward swag that turns out to be gems. Any time you consider walking down Sixth Street, you may find up getting handed a promotional lighter, a CD, a flash drive, a pair of underwear (true story) or even a piece of anti-religious propaganda. It's like standing in Times Square on a giant acid trip.
Somehow a walk on Sixth this year yielded the greatest gift of all, a small glimpse into the upcoming Pimp C biography, Sweet Jones: Pimp C's Trill Life Story, penned by Julia Beverly. The book, which isn't set to appear in physical form until July, will have diehard UGK fans gravitating toward it like a form of gospel.
The early chapters pluck quotes from both Bun and Pimp from the likes of Murder Dog magazine and 90.1 KPFT's Damage Control show. The other quotes, from Pimp's late mother Mama Wes, were conducted by Beverly herself as well as conversations Pimp had with other notable music journalists.
The two chapters in the pamphlet break down the last hurdle before Bun and Pimp became UGK, with Bun moving in with his father and members of the men's previous group, Da Meancesters, opting for careers beyond rap. There's also an infamous night in Dallas in 1993, when Mama Wes (who passed away in August 2013) became a solid believer in her sons' talents and passions.
The story about Mama Wes as UGK's road manager is a rather hilarious insight into the strength of Southern black women who command respect, and a woman stronger than anyone would ever know. As road manager, she was only instructed one thing: get the money. Handling disrespect, that was an entirely different matter.
As the story goes, UGK showed up for a gig at Deep Ellum nightclub The Bomb Factory...
When they arrived for soundcheck, Mama Wes scanned the empty floor in front of the stage. She'd left her closet full of business suits, sorority clothes, and high heels at home, opting instead for the comfortable pairs of Dickies work pants she wore on her vending-machine runs. Attending rap concerts was so far out of her element she had no idea fans stood up during the show.
"When are they gonna get the club ready?" she asked Bun.
"Mama, it's ready," Bun told her.
"Well, no, it's not," she said, confused. "Where are the tables and chairs?"
The only thing she knew about being a road manager was the most important task: get the money. In a cash business with very little regulation, this wasn't always as easy as it sounded, and things sometimes turned ugly.
"It got tense in a lot of back rooms. fists got balled up, sticks and bottles got grabbed, blue steel got cocked. It's been some very, very tense situations," Bun said later on Damage Control radio.
The club owner had paid a $2,500 deposit, 50 percent of UGK's show fee. While the boys waited in the limo late that night, Mama Wes went inside to pick up the $2,500 back-end and modest $200 travel fee to compensate them for the five-hour drive from Port Arthur to Dallas. Inside the nightclub office, the club owner was holding a conversation with a handful of security guards and Greg Street, a popular DJ from Dallas radio station K104.
"I came to get the paper," Mama Wes announced.
The club owner handed over a stack of cash. Mama Wes counted the $2,500 in front of him. "You know the transpo was $200," she said.
"I'm not gonna pay that, cause y'all was late by ten minutes," he responded.
"Well, you're not gonna see UGK then," retorted Mama Wes. "That was yo' limo out there who picked us up late, so deal with it, baby."
Story continues on the next page.
As more words were exchanged, the conversation grew heated. Greg Street, a worried look crossing his face, stepped between the two. Finally, the club owner pulled out a handful of bills and threw them derisively in Mama Wes' direction. The bills floated to the floor, falling in disarray at her feet.
Every eye in the office turned toward Mama Wes. The retied librarian, a petite grandmother in her late forties who'd recently lost her husband, stood alone surrounded by a dozen men double her size. She was terrified, but she knew better than to let it show.
A hush fell over the room, aside from the dim bass from the nightclub speakers thumping through the walls. She locked eyes with the club owner, desperately hoping he couldn't see her knees trembling inside her Dickies and silently praying that her voice wouldn't quiver.
"When you find a bitch to pick that money up," she stated firmly, pausing for emphasis, "You let me know."
Mama Wes turned towards the exit, blocked by four oversized security guards.
"They didn't know how scared I was," Mama Wes recalls. "But I kept walking, and they just parted like the Red Sea."
Greg Street picked up the $200 off the floor and ran outside, following Mama Wes to the limo. She made him wait outside, eying him suspiciously. Who the hell is this nigga?, she wondered.
"Some nigga here say his name Greg Road or something?" she told Bun as she climbed in the limo. "I don't know who the nigga is."
Bun peeked outside. "Mama that's Greg Street!"
The name meant nothing to Mama Wes. "So?"
Greg had history with the group, ever since he'd be DJing in Houston when "Tell Me Something Good" started to blow up. He climbed in the limo and everyone had a good laugh over the brief skirmish with the club owner. Chad quietly chastised his mother, his tone one of slight embarrassment. "Mama, that ain't what you're supposed to do," he said.
"Well, honey, I didn't know," she responded, as only a mother could.
Used by permission. Pre-order your copy at PimpCBook.com. Sweet Jones will contain more than 100 pages of color photos over the course of Pimp's life and more, and is set to arrive in stores July 7.
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