The first thing you always tell yourself about posthumous albums is that some of the music is dated for a reason. It’s taking an artist you loved and unearthing some of his or her final thoughts. These are usually unfinished ideas — or even better, completed works — that were shielded from the public for a given reason.
The first thing you tell yourself about Pimp C’s Long Live the Pimp album (Mass Appeal) is how all of the surrounding sounds behind Pimp C are either as vulgar and unfiltered as they can be. That’s how post-prison Pimp C was on records. Most of it was fueled by the persona he’d fully embraced being a “pimp” by the time “Big Pimpin” turned him into an national star the same ways Ridin’ Dirty left him and Bun B as regional mainstays. It’s how you kind of hear him mention phrases like “cock” and know he’s referring to a woman’s genitals, not those of a male. Or how he can use a derogatory term for homosexuals without care on “Trill,” a slow, cutting anthem with ESG, Slim Thug and Lil Keke, and nobody winces or grimaces. What made Pimp C great probably couldn't be replicated in 2015, which is why Long Live the Pimp is a time-capsule album. He can talk money; he can talk pimping and have it all operate in this solar system of church organs, squelchy soul and humorous sample choices.
On 2006's Pimpalation, Pimp heartily sang about his freedom to the tune of Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin'." In 2015, there’s a lead single where he and Lil Wayne discuss freaky tales over Mint Condition’s “Pretty Brown Eyes." In 1996, he kept Ronnie Spencer to deliver Ronald Isley-like tonal moves for “One Day." In 2015, he’s singing a flipped version of TLC’s “What About Your Friends” on a record with Juicy J and Nas. In flashes, you get early-era Pimp C, the one who rapped with a keyed-up twang about the ups and downs of the drug game on “Cocaine In The Back of the Ride,” on tracks such as “Friends” and “True to the Game” with David Banner. You get Pimp feeding into his id almost to an insane high on “To Lose a Whore,” where he waxes and wanes about losing a worker in the same way Marvin Gaye sung on Here, My Dear. That id lives and breathes like an unavoidable totem pole on three Long Live The Pimp skits, complete with audio cuts of Jerome from Martin to drive the point home. The album highlights what made Pimp an easily beloved, and maybe even more, unappreciated superhero.
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Unlike the Rap-A-Lot cut-and-paste jobs of years prior, Long Live the Pimp does its best to work within the realm of its main star, even if he isn’t actually here. Juicy J, Cory Mo and Mr. Lee handle most of the production, swinging between choppy snares, swoon-worthy basslines and the occasional synth stab to bring Chad Butler’s love of ‘70s soul back to the forefront. Ass-shaking posturing rides and glides on “Southside,” where a heavenly organ and screwed-up chorus ride on the bottom-heavy “Slab Music” with Lil Keke. Even the strip-club-ready “Twerk Something,” with T.I., features scaling pianos and Superfly-era bass for Pimp and Tip to stretch “Take It Off” into something completely different. “I got Peruvian bitches, you can treat cha nose,” Pimp cheers on his lead verse, playing up to a persona that was not only charitable, it understood just how high the superpimp identity could stretch.
When fans heard “Wavybone” on A$AP Rocky’s A.L.L.A album this past January, the immediate secondary thought behind “holy shit, it’s new UGK” was “how much unreleased Pimp C music is out there?” Long Live the Pimp isn’t a funeral, nor is it a tribute album. It’s piecing together not just the legacy of Chad Butler from the interviews to the production and the persona, it's tying together those he influenced and the man himself. On “Wavybone," he brags that he once received oral sex from Sheryl Crow and then 20 minutes later, maintains that you should keep your eye on the money. The spirit of the Pimp never truly died, it was going to get out and live worldwide regardless.
Pimp C's Long Live the Pimp is out now via Mass Appeal Records.