Posthumously released Pimp C album Long Live The Pimp opens with 808s and Hammond organs as the iconic half of UGK introduces himself before a Mint Condition sample for the Lil Wayne guessed “3 Way Freak” almost majestically. This release feels vintage, well worn and aware of the likes, dislikes and possibly playalistic lifestyle of its expected listener. Anyone in the 25-54-year-old demographic recalling everything from classics like UGK’s album Ridin’ Dirty, Three Six Mafia’s Most Known Unknown and left-coast legend Too $hort’s Life Is…Too Short, the album recalls and celebrates all of your favorite rap tropes in the most pleasantly expected manner possible. When rap veterans and newcomers alike paint within legendary and very well-established lines, the album sometimes falls short, but almost always leaves you smiling and entertained.
On “3 Way Freak,” Pimp C says that he can make your mate “cum like a jet…call it waterworks…biiiitch!” Given Weezy’s guest feature on the track and his career built off of punchline raps of a similar variety, hearing where that style has its organic roots feels haunting in a most comfortable way. “Wavybone” features another modern era Pimp C disciple in A$AP Rocky and hearing his laid-back playa flow slumping while rising like sizzurp over the breaks, it feels like clunky appropriation lacking Pimp C’s accented twang which provides the swagger to add some extra funk to the kickdrums. If ever questioning the legacy of Pimp C, it’s in hearing what his creative descendants do when compared against him that showcases his excellence.
Ty Dolla $ign’s style may have more to do with Snoop Dogg than UGK, but his collaboration with Devin the Dude over staccato break and soul groove-driven heater “Ain’t Said Shit” is fantastic. Devin and Ty pack just as much potency in their confidence as they do in their elocution and this just feels like as much a victory in the curation of putting together the trio as in hearing the song itself. Left-coast pop heavyweights Dolla $ign slithers around the drums and over the sample, while Devin and Pimp C’s flows feel off-kilter against the track itself, but chop at a pacing that halves, doubles and quarters against the production. A true pleasure for any rap aficionado, this one demands multiple listens.
Much of the rest of this album aims for expectations and hits them with note-perfect perfection. Long Live The Pimp’s lead single “Bitch Get Down” proves when 808s sound like street-sweepers on the bottom end and UGK, 8Ball & MJG are talking about players, squares, hoes and tricks in the verses, their ability to craft a cinematic-quality song will never age. When Lil Keke talks about “pimpin hoes, brand new vogues, mayonnaise and mustard,” on “Slab Music,” it, alongside Pimp C almost arrogantly saying “name on the wall ‘cause my nuts hang low,” gives off a sense of everything that’s unforgettable about The South’s influence not just on rap music, but on Hip Hop culture overall. David Banner’s Mississippi-borne double-time flow on “True To The Game” and Slim Thug’s laconic Texan twang on “Trill” add to this Southern-fried Hip Hop appreciation thread on the album, too.
A Pimp C album joins the list with Justin Bieber’s Purpose as another unexpected place where Nas’ rap vocals have turned up in 2015. “Friends” may be one of the places where the classic magic that makes this album fun falls short. The use of the chorus of TLC’s “What About Your Friends” in the hook does more grating that ingratiating, and Nas being the cleanup hitter on the track actually ends the track with a whimper instead of a bang. Nas’ battle rap flow about “friends fucking cousins” and such feels like well-past-expiration sour grapes from Nasir Jones, whose album Life Is Good felt as if it expunged all of those skeletons from his lyrical closet. Place those tracks alongside Pimp C solo cuts “To Lose A Whore” and “South Side” and not so well executed reggae-sampling groove “Butta Cookie,” and the impact of these productions aren’t fully realized. In a rare case of an album needing more guests, the presence of someone well-established in the world of these rap concepts like the aforementioned Too $hort or gangsta-beloved Freddie Gibbs would’ve aided either of these tracks.
In 2015, both rap’s sound and appeal have traversed the globe and generations of fans multiple times over. Thus, for as much as we may love an A$AP Rocky or Lil Wayne, it’s easy to forget who their stylistic predecessors were and as well, what made them great. Long Live The Pimp is best regarded as found source material from a rap legend whose legacy must remain unforgotten. When paired with those unlike Wayne and Rocky, share his southern roots and also allow their own iconic uniqueness to blend with Pimp C’s style, this album is great. When this album has tracks and artists that fall short of meeting the level of quality demanded by being affiliated with the deceased Southern icon, this album is a tedious listen. Overall, though, Pimp C as an artist has a standard of excellence that, even when heard when he’s no longer here, makes him feel like he will never leave our memories and left a positive impact on rap as a genre and hip-hop as a culture.