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Discography Check: UGK

By @TrueGodImmortal


With the month of December underway, we remember the legend Pimp C fondly. Before he passed away in December 2007, Pimp was the true heart and soul of one of the greatest duos in history, UGK. Alongside Bun B, they would craft a ton of great anthems and albums that would entice their fans and listeners all around. Today, I wanted to pay homage to the legendary Texas duo and look at their catalog. I won't cover their solo projects here, but I will cover every official UGK release, as well as their 2002 compilation, Side Hustles. Which album is the best in their discography? We'll discuss that and more. Let's get into it.

*Too Hard To Swallow (1992)


-After signing with Jive Records, the Texas duo would gear up to release their debut, Too Hard To Swallow. Releasing in November 1992, the album features amazing production, most of which is courtesy of Pimp C, and reality raw rhymes courtesy of both Pimp and Bun. Hearing the youth in their voices and their rhymes is actually refreshing in retrospect, and this debut is actually one of the most underrated debuts in hip hop history IMO. They crafted hard hitting anthems like "Pocket Full Of Stones" and "I'm So Bad", alongside smooth tracks like "Something Good" and "Use Me Up", giving us a good balance in their music to appeal to all listeners. For me, one underrated aspect of the duo and their run is the ear that Pimp C had for samples. With some great samples from The Isley Brothers, Rufus, Bill Withers, and more, the production features the right amount of southern soul to introduce the world to them boys from Port Arthur.

*Super Tight (1994)


-The sophomore album from this legendary duo is universally revered and for great reason. Pimp C had such a mind for music and production that he would employ a session musician to help complement the sounds and ideas he had. The result is a smoother listen than their first album, which was great in its own right, but the production here is a bit better. With features from Smoke D and 3-2, UGK kept it simple on this album, sticking to what they know best and executing it well. For me, the best songs on this project are "I Left It Wet For You", "Feds In Town", "Front, Back, and Side To Side", and "It's Supposed To Bubble", but the beauty of this project is that it has very little to skip, something that is a rarity in music. UGK came in the game and captivated the audience right out of the gate with two consecutive albums that showcased their strengths. While the first two albums were amazing in their own right, it would be their third project that changed the fortunes of the Texas duo.

*Ridin' Dirty (1996)


-The greatest UGK album and it isn't really close. This album is like perfection for southern hip hop and it only got slept on because of the year it was released in. 1996 is the greatest year in hip hop history, and you can add UGK to the list of names that made it possible. This is their most infamous and most successful album and rightfully so. It is almost certified platinum, and it would end up making it to the top 2 of the R&B and Hip Hop charts, marking a huge success for the duo. Production is once again a highlight on this album, but this time, Pimp C enlists the assistance of N.O. Joe to help cultivate the sound he really wanted to execute. Every song here is special in its own way, with some of them being true to life anthems, others being reality raps, and the rest serving as those trunk rattling, booming jams that UGK had become known for on their first two. Most of my favorite UGK songs come from this album, with "Diamonds And Wood", "One Day", "Murder", and "Fuck My Car" all being a part of this excellent tracklist. It's rare to see a duo strike with a true classic, but this is one of those albums. Ridin' Dirty is legendary for so many reasons and it is without a doubt, the best UGK album.

*Dirty Money (2001)


-After two solid projects, and a true classic, UGK seemed to go through a bit of a struggle and a hiatus. Five years after their biggest album, UGK finally returned with an album that was in the making since 1998. The album isn't bad by any stretch, but expands a bit out of their album comfort zone, enlisting outside features on a majority of the album. It takes away from the spirit that made the first three projects so special, but the feature list is truly star studded. With Jermaine Dupri, 8Ball & MJG, Too Short, Three 6 Mafia, Big Gipp of Goodie Mob, and more on the project, it feels at times a bit cluttered, but overall, this is still a solid album. It is a bit of a drop off from their first three, but with tracks like "Gold Grill", "Look At Me", "Choppin Blades", and my favorite "Let Me See It", there's more than enough here to enjoy. I think if UGK trimmed down the features by a few, this could have been a much better album, but the finished product still was enjoyable for the most part.

*Side Hustles (2002)


-While not an official album, this is still a noteworthy compilation that featured some solid work. With production contributions from N.O. Joe and Organized Noize to go along with the Pimp C sound, Side Hustles gives you a glimpse of UGK and their features over the years. Some of these songs were released previously, some weren't, but none of this was constructed like an actual album. It's essentially a solid mixtape before mixtapes became the true wave in the genre. Tracks like "All About It", "They Down With Us", and "The Corrupter's Execution" are highlights, but there aren't too many significant elements to this project. It's solid, but nothing special.

*Underground Kingz (2007)


-Shortly before the untimely passing of Pimp C, the duo would utilize all the momentum that came from the release of Pimp C from jail, and turn it into a huge double album that felt like it was longer than 6 years in the making. UGK had been gone so long that it was truly a shock to see them return with a double album. The thing about double albums are that they run the risk of having far too much filler and honestly, this one nearly falls victim to that issue. At about 130 minutes of runtime, the album is long and existence and split between two discs that are each over 60 minutes a piece of course. Production here comes from Pimp C of course, but there are contributions from DJ Paul and Juicy J, The Runners, Scarface, Jazze Pha, Marley Marl, and Lil Jon, among others. The variety in production does seem to offset the cohesion of th album, as things can get slightly repetitive in terms of subject matter, but there are plenty of great songs to go around on this project. From the Outkast assisted "Int'l Players Anthem", to the anthem "The Game Belongs To Me", the smooth "Chrome Plated Woman", and of course, "Quit Hatin The South", UGK deliver on this project, at least on the first disc. The 2nd disc is a bit more filler, but there are still some solid moments. While I do really enjoy this album, I only wish the duo would have cut down the tracklist a bit and went with a single disc because they would have liked crafted their greatest work without question. That's the potential this album had. 

*UGK 4 Life (2009)


-Two years after the passing of Pimp C, this album of leftover tracks and unreleased material was released in what was a tribute to Pimp. It is the last and the final UGK album, and while it is bittersweet, it is actually a really good listen overall. The production is solid as usual, with the exception of a few tracks, and the features here are pretty good as well. The guest list includes Lil Boosie, Webbie, Snoop Dogg, Too Short, Sleepy Brown, and many more. Essentially, this album sounds like a post Ridin' Dirty UGK album, which was exactly what most of us had to expect. Still, with tracks like "Da Game Been Good To Me", "The Pimp And The Bun", and "Swishas And Erb", this project was a good send-off for one of the best duos ever and made sure to give us some of that good UGK sound that we've known and loved for years.


-True

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