Bernard James Freeman, otherwise known as Bun B, rose to fame as one-half of the hip-hop duo UnderGround Kingz (UGK) alongside Pimp C, formed in 1987.
Despite releasing multiple albums over the decade with UGK, Bun B has also had a successful solo career, collaborating with the likes of 2 Chainz, Rick Ross, and Lil Wayne. Furthermore, since 2011, the rapper has taught a Hip-Hop and Religion class at Rice University in Houston. Thus, equipped with plenty of hip-hop knowledge and experience, Bun B has shared a list of essential tracks for the next generation of fans with XXLMag.
Most of his picks are from the golden era of hip-hop, beginning with E-40 and The Click’s 1992 track ‘Drought Season’. Explaining the song, he said: “This kind of thing has always been here—the idea of people speaking to the reality of the environment they live in and trying to navigate a world that’s been primarily set up against them.”
Furthermore, he selected Ice Cube’s ‘A Bird in the Hand’, elucidating, “This one literally speaks to the youth of today. […] “It’s really a criticism of the choices that we’re told in America we have that are so plentiful. But yet, if you’re born in a certain place under certain circumstances, you don’t have that.” Discussing ‘Be A Father To Your Child’ by Ed O.G & Da Bulldogs, Bun B explained, “I believe there was an idea that hip-hop made people more irresponsible, pushed people away from their responsibilities, and was not a culture of family. And I argue that that’s bullshit.”
The list would not be complete without the mention of Tupac, with Bun B selecting ‘Dear Mama’ as his essential choice. He shared, “The song is about a perfect love for an imperfect person. […] He understood the world and environment his mother grew up in. He understood she was simply human.”
Discover the complete list below.
Bun B’s essential hip-hop tracks for the new generation:
- ‘Drought Season’ – E-40 and The Click
- ‘Mr. Big’ – 8 Ball and MJG
- ‘Mind Playing Tricks On Me’ – Geto Boys
- ‘A Bird in the Hand’ – Ice Cube
- ‘Be A Father to Your Child’ – Ed O.G & Da Bulldogs
- ‘Dear Mama’ – 2Pac
- ‘We’re All in the Same Gang’ – West Coast All-Stars
- ‘Country Grammar’ – Nelly
- ‘Soul Food’ – Goodie Mob
- ‘Smile’ – Scarface feat. 2Pac