Port Arthur, Texas rap legend’s Bun B’s show at Neumos this Sunday, March 30, isn’t his first ever solo stop in Seattle (he performed here in 2008), but it very well might be his last.
The 41-year-old’s career has been an especially eventful and arduous one. He helped put the “Dirty South” on the map as one half of UGK, with its first few groundbreaking albums in the early ‘90s, then tragically lost band mate Pimp C, who was found dead in his hotel room in Los Angeles in 2007.
In November of last year Bun B capped his run of solo albums with “Trill OG: The Epilogue,” touted as his final recording. The Trillest Tour,” coming here, seems like a well-deserved nationwide victory lap for a rapper whose sound and legacy have transcended generations. There’s not much left for him to do.
The term “trill,” first popularized by UGK on its earliest albums, was coined by a close friend of the group’s while he was in jail, and ended up being an identifier for Port Arthur residents. distinguishing them from denizens of nearby rival neighborhood Beaumont. To describe someone as “trill” meant they were real, loyal and deserving of respect.
Thanks in part to fashion-forward, blog-friendly Harlem rapper A$AP Rocky (whose slang and sound is based largely on the Southern rap styles pioneered by UGK) and “hip” street wear company Been Trill, this regional slang word has surged in popularity, but its meaning has been somewhat lost in translation. Been Trill describes itself as a “lifestyle brand that is for the next wave of net surfers” and can be found at mall stores like Pac Sun.
Bun B has gone on record to explain, “Trill wasn’t about t-shirts and hats…It was about being a real cat. About representing and (supporting) your people.” Reclaiming, or at least clarifying, trill’s true meaning to ignorant appropriators seems to be one of the biggest causes behind the rapper’s late-career moves.
Twenty-year-old Houston auto-tune singer-rapper Kirko Bangz (his real name is Kirk Randle, and the Nirvana reference is more stylistically convenient than it is referential) is an understandable choice as an opening act, based on his status as a fellow Texan, his past collaborative work with Bun B, and his radio-friendliness and popularity in an era when Drake is one of the genre’s top artists.
Though Kirko Bangz’s path to rap success was much different than Bun B’s – earning a bachelor’s degree in communications from Prairie View A & M University after releasing his first mixtape – and his style lacks the hard-edged grit that the Dirty South is known for, he’s one of the most well-known modern talents from the home state of the originators of Trill.
8 p.m. Sunday, March 30 at Neumos, 925 E. Pike St., Seattle; $20 Advance $50 Meet and Greet (206-709-9442 or neumos.com).