The Story of How Pimp C Ended up in Prison

By Julia Beverly |
September 25, 2015

Pimp-C-rapperVICE is exploring America’s prison system in the week leading up to our special report with President Obama for HBO. Tune in Sunday, September 27, at 9 PM EST, to see his historic first-ever presidential visit to a federal prison.

Throughout the second half of the 1990s, Port Arthur, Texas, rapper and producer Pimp C essentially shaped the sound of Southern hip-hop as one-half of the groundbreaking duo UGK. Flipping the warm palettes of funk and soul into fuzzy, languid beats perfect for late night drives, his production offered a counterpoint to the crisper, harsher coastal sounds of the moment, while his raunchy, relatable verses, delivered in a nasal, thickly accented voice, established him as one of the most entertaining, distinctive, and talented MCs of all time. With a colorful sense of fashion and a reputation for prolific drug use, Pimp C was also a revered persona beyond his music. Pimp C and his partner Bun B were already regional legends as the decade drew to a close, but they became household names in hip-hop in 1999 when Jay-Z enlisted them for his hit single “Big Pimpin’.”

Yet just as the group seemed poised to take over the world and properly put Texas rap on the map, Pimp C fell into a spiral of legal troubles that eventually resulted in him spending nearly four years in prison. During that period, from 2002 through the end of 2005, “Free Pimp C” became a rallying cry for fans across the country—in part because Pimp C’s crimes didn’t seem, in many people’s eyes, to fit the punishment. Adding to the tragedy, at the end of 2007, just less than two years after his release from prison and right in the wake of releasing an acclaimed UGK comeback double album called Underground Kingz, Pimp C was found dead in a hotel room from a fatal combination of prescription cough syrup and sleep apnea.

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