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With partner Bun B, rapper Pimp C (born Chad Butler) formed UGK and helped put hardcore Houston, TX hip-hop in the spotlight, but he's also known for being at the center of a street-level campaign that sold nearly as many T-shirts as the "Yayo's Home" and "Frankie Say Relax" phenomena. UGK's rise began in 1988, and with a slow and steady series of albums and guest appearances, they became one of the most respected crews from Texas. This all came to a halt in January 2002 when the rapper was sentenced to eight years in prison after violating probation by ignoring the community service sentence he had received from an earlier aggravated gun assault charge. Bun B carried on and spread the "Free Pimp C" message wherever he could. The campaign spawned thousands of unlicensed "Free Pimp C" T-shirts. In early 2005, while he was still on lockdown, Pimp C's solo debut, Sweet James Jones Stories, appeared, and it didn't take fans long to figure out that even if the beats were new, at least a quarter of the album was put together from previously released vocal tracks. At the end of the year, right before he reached the halfway mark of his sentence, Pimp C was released from prison. Fans got their true Pimp C solo album when Pimpalation appeared in the summer of 2006. Tragically, in December of 2007, Pimp C was found dead in his hotel room in West Hollywood from an accidental overdose of promethazine and codeine (common ingredients of purple drank). An album he was working on at the time of his death, The Naked Soul of Sweet Jones, was completed by Rap-A-Lot president J. Prince and the Pimps wife, Chinara Butler, for a 2010 release. Further recordings were issued in summer 2011 as Still Pimping.
Chad Lamont Butler (December 29, 1973 – December 4, 2007), better known by his stage name Pimp C, was an American rapper, singer, and producer. Pimp C was best known for his work with Bun B as a founding member of the Underground Kingz (UGK)."Port Arthur News Obituaries: 2007". Port Arthur Public Library. Retrieved 2009-09-07.
UGKMain article: UGK
Butler formed the rap group Underground Kingz (colloquially known as UGK) with best friend Bernard "Bun B" Freeman. In 1987, Jive Records signed UGK and released Too Hard to Swallow, followed by the critically acclaimed Super Tight. The group's third album, Ridin' Dirty, reached #2 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, and their momentum was continued with features on the popular singles "Big Pimpin'" with Jay-Z and "Sippin' on Some Syrup" by Three 6 Mafia. UGK's fourth album, Dirty Money, was distributed in 2001.
Due to Butler's incarceration in 2002, UGK would not release another studio album until 2007's Underground Kingz, which included the hit "International Player's Anthem (I Choose You)", featuring Outkast.
Arrest and solo debut
In January 2002, Pimp C was sentenced to eight years in prison for violating his probation by ignoring his sentence to community service stemming from an earlier aggravated assault charge. His arrest was widely protested by the hip hop community, who along with Bun B, immediately initiated a grassroots "Free Pimp C" campaign. While Pimp C was in prison, Rap-A-Lot Records released Sweet James Jones Stories in 2005, most of which consisted of unreleased freestyle recordings.
Pimp C spent the later portion of his sentence at the Terrell Unit in Brazoria County, Texas and was transferred to the Huntsville Unit a week prior to his release. On December 30, 2005, Pimp C was released from prison and placed on parole until December 2007.
On July 11, 2006, Pimp C released his debut solo album, Pimpalation.Bush, John (2007). "UGK – Biography". allmusic. Retrieved 2009-05-02. Jeffries, David (2007). "Pimp C > Biography". allmusic. Retrieved 2009-05-02. Pearson, Ryan (2007-12-05). "Chad Butler, 33: Rap musician known as Pimp C". Toronto Star. Associated Press. Retrieved 2009-05-02. "Rapper Pimp C released from prison." KTRK-TV. Friday December 20, 2005. Retrieved on November 19, 2010. "Rapper Pimp C released from prison". MSNBC. Associated Press. 2005-12-30.
Death and tributes
Pimp C was found dead in his hotel room in Los Angeles on December 4, 2007. According to the Los Angeles County Coroner, Butler suffered respiratory depression due to an overdose of promethazine and codeine coupled with a preexisting sleep apnea condition. Like many other Southern rappers, Pimp C frequently referenced the recreational consumption of "syrup" (also known as Purple Drank) in his music.
The funeral was held at the Bob Bowers Civic Center in Port Arthur, Texas on December 13, 2007. Port Arthur mayor Deloris Prince, Pimp C's mother Weslyn Monroe, and fellow UGK member Bun B were among the speakers at the service, and the eulogy was delivered by pastor Dr. John R. Adolph. Attendees included many fellow luminaries of the Houston rap scene: Slim Thug, Chamillionaire, Mike Jones, Big North, Bi-Bi, Willie D, Big Gipp, and Webbie.
Bun B continues to pay tribute to Pimp C through his music, including the tracks "You're Everything," a collaboration with Rick Ross, David Banner, and 8Ball and MJG, and "Pop It 4 Pimp" which was produced by Mouse and featured Juvenile and Webbie off of Bun B's 2008 album II Trill. Bun B released the final UGK album, UGK 4 Life, in 2009. UGK 4 Life had been recorded, for the most part, in the time frame between their previous album and the passing of Pimp C. Outkast paid tribute to Pimp C during their Outkast #Atlast homecoming tour in Atlanta, playing International Players Anthem (I Choose You) onstage with Bun B and dedicating it to the late rapper.Rieken, Kristie (2008-02-05). "Cough syrup found in Pimp C's hotel had no label". Houston Chronicle. Associated Press. Retrieved 2009-05-02. "Dec 13 – OBITUARY for: Mr. Chad Lamont Butler"Pimp C"". Slumz.boxden.com. Retrieved 2011-08-05. Reid, Shaheem (December 13, 2007). "Pimp C Is Given Uplifting, Heartfelt Farewell At Funeral". MTV News. Retrieved May 16, 2010. "Bun B Brings 'Em Out at II Trill Listening Session in NYC". MTV Newsroom. MTV News. March 5, 2008. Retrieved May 16, 2010. Stolz, Kim (March 2, 2009). "UGK's Last Album An 'Emotional Experience' After Pimp C's Death". MTV News. Retrieved May 16, 2010.