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Exclusive: Pimp C's wife speaks on the struggles of being a widow in hip-hop

Nadine Graham

 // Nov 2, 2016

Last Wednesday (October 26), Chinara Butler entered a Jefferson County, Texas courthouse as the administrator of her late husband’s estate. When she walked out, she no longer had that title. Judge Gerald Eddins relieved Butler of her duties as Pimp C’s estate administrator after her stepson, Chad Butler Jr., accused her of mishandling funds. He cited the repossession of his father’s car, missing jewelry, as well as a tax lien against the rapper’s home. The judge ruled in his favor, yet despite the connotations that have been made in regard to this ongoing story, she says that she’s in a better place for it.

“I still have the authority to do everything I’ve been doing,” Butler tells REVOLT, with conviction. “It’s just that now I don’t have to file papers. Now I can give 1,000%, not a 100% but 1,000%, to keep his legacy going.”

For a few years now, there has been some rising tension between Butler and Pimp C’s oldest son, Chad Jr. This animosity led to a few articles and most recently a track titled “Trust Nobody.” Just last year, he released “Jealousy and Hate,” another song containing thinly veiled shots at his estranged stepmother.

Butler, meanwhile, signed a deal with Mass Appeal and dropped her husband's posthumous album, Long Live the Pimp last November. In 2017, Pimp C will have been gone 10 years, and Butler has projects, events, and collaborations planned to celebrate his life. There’s also a partnership in the works with Rice University to have memorabilia from Pimp C’s career archived in the school’s library in December. So yes, his wife has been working, and even as the mounds of paperwork — that come with an untimely death — began to overwhelm her, she continued. After the ruling, REVOLT TV connected with Butler to hear her side. We talk about the growing accusations, the missing money, and the struggle of being a widow in hip-hop.

Did you see any of this coming?

CB: It’s actually kind of what I expected, just seeing how women that become widows are treated in the music industry. So I was kinda prepared for it. It is a disheartening situation, I’m not gonna lie. I never expected to air my late husband’s business and I’m a little reluctant to do it because we’re airing out his dirty laundry. But, it’s already out there so I’m just making sure everybody understands what it really is.

What led to the breakdown of your relationship with Chad Jr.?

CB: It was a surprise to me as well because when I set the estate up with my own money, the whole family agreed for me to be the administrator. So when we got to court, even my attorney asked that, and [Chad Bishop Jr.] said it happened during the Mass Appeal project. I don’t know what brought that on or where it came from. My feelings are that I still love all my kids. My stepkids, my child... I don’t have any ill feelings towards them. I don’t.

It’s sad too because you know that he never would’ve been okay with all this.

CB: This is something that he obviously wouldn’t want. He would want to see us come together and work together to keep his legacy alive, especially since he worked so hard. He put his whole life into this. That’s my whole reason for taking the lead. This is my husband. Coming through the same things he came through to accomplish so much when nobody thought it was even possible... This is not honoring his legacy.

How did you end up here, where these accusations have been made against you?

CB: Again, I wasn’t wanting to do this, but we can talk about the car... We can talk about the lien on the house... I never wanted to air my late husband’s dirty laundry, but at this point I have no choice. A lot of things were said I guess to make me look like a bad person or to make me look crazy and I just was not looking out for the kids, and that was just not the case. It’s so far from the case. The real situation is that before my husband even passed, we were in the red. And that’s just what it is. But again, I’m a rider. I didn’t marry Chad for his money or what he had. I really admired his ambition. I admired his drive. I was confident that he could get us out the red. And that’s the main reason I took the lead, keeping Chad’s legacy alive. Keeping him relevant, putting him on different features. Me and my team have worked really hard and diligently — we take it very seriously, how we keep his legacy alive, and I think we can go ahead and start addressing [these accusations].

Even with the car situation, as administrator, I was supposed to file some papers. It came up in court and Chad’s attorney asked me if I filed a paper to turn in the Bentley, and my answer was that we couldn’t pay for it. I had no knowledge that we had to turn in a paper. First of all, to say that I’m gonna pay for papers to be filed that say that we couldn’t afford a car — no one teaches you how to be a good widow. No one teaches you how to run and administer an estate before you’re 30. There were certain things I had to learn.

It’s been said that the car was repossessed...

CB: With the car, we didn’t have the money to pay for it. It’s like, “Should I keep it? And we didn’t have the money to pay for it?” I don’t know what the next person would do, but I would turn the car in if I couldn’t pay for it.

The real deal is that he died two years after he got out of jail. How much money can you possibly make in two years?

Truthfully, you almost sound relieved to be free of the role of administrator.

CB: At this point, I respect the judge’s decision. I can say that being an administrator and pushing papers — because that’s really all an administrator does, is file papers — and that’s not really my strong suit. I’ve learned sometimes that you gotta do stuff to understand that it’s not your strong suit. I felt like I had to take that role as administrator because everybody, the whole family, agreed that I should. But jumping into it, learning the music business, this was all done [while I was grieving] my husband’s passing.

When he passed, the music business was going through a big change. He had a 360 deal, the same one that labels are handing out now. I needed to understand that. I needed to understand the business. I needed to develop projects and come up with creative ideas to keep Chad’s legacy alive. So pushing papers as an administrator is just not my strong suit. I look forward to working with the next person in that position though, and again I respect the judge’s decision. But as for as me, I’d like to keep doing what I’ve been doing.

It’s been said that you’ve been banned from the estate.

CB: I’ve read that. But I’m trying to figure out how you get banned from something you own the majority of... I understand that the media’s job is to put out a salacious story but the truth is the truth.

When Chad passed, there was no will and everybody agreed for me to take on the administrator role, but in doing that I was taking on at least three or four roles. I was developing projects, creating... It’s a lot of manwork, a lot to learn for someone that’s never been in the music business being thrown into it during tragedy.

I chose to use my community property [Pimp C’s music] and direct it straight to the heirs and not the estate. The court agreed with me and turned it over; at that time, the court had named another person as administrator. No one asked this question though: Why did [the previous administrator] quit? I didn’t make him quit. That’s nothing to work with. Everything that people are seeing are things that me and my team have developed.

People seem to have a lot of questions about the money and what happened to it, from the tax lien to Pimp’s missing jewelry. They’re even curious about whether or not you’ve been sharing anything with his children.

CB: [The media] misquoted a lot of things. I didn’t sell or hawk any of his jewelry. No one could’ve predicted that my husband would’ve passed so when he did, I had just flown back to Texas. But when he passed, I had to fly back to California, identify him, pick up his belongings... I met immediately with his team: management, attorneys, accountants, all in one room. Left his jewelry with his criminal attorney. I met with the team that he put in place and I went to go bury my husband.

Now coming back, the jewelry’s gone. That had nothing to do with me. I filed papers, but like my husband would say, “You can’t go to war when you ain’t got no bread.” It’s impossible. There are a lot of things that people said I mishandled. But my brain just tells me that if we can’t pay for stuff like the Bentley, if I can’t get an attorney to sue certain people, because I have no money, then I don’t know what else to do but move forward and try to come up and create some things that’ll generate money.

And the tax lien?

CB: The tax lien comes from a direct UGK lawsuit from 1992. And the manager [Byron Hill, who had won a judgment against the group]. A 1992 lawsuit. I don’t know what everybody else was doing, but I was in high school. I know the kids weren’t born. Since I turned the music over to the heirs and not to the state, they felt that I was evading a lawsuit.

But how could I have known about a lawsuit when I was in high school and the kids weren’t even born? It’s like people are trying to make me the villain and I’m far from that — even with the kids saying that I left or abandoned them. It's such a false statement because maybe a month or two after Chad passed, I went and found us a deal to get us out of the red and maybe pay some of these things out and I directed it to the heirs, not the estate, the heirs, so that they could cut them a check immediately. And that was publishing — that’s where all the money is, in his music. I not only did that, I dropped $75,000 into Chad’s taxes so the kids could even get Social Security. They couldn’t even get Social Security for a year. So for anyone to accuse me of abandoning the kids, it’s just not true and it’s there in black and white.

It’s unfortunate, but I’m not mad at the kids. I’m not. It’s obvious that there are a lot of other people pulling strings. But I'm going to continue doing what I can do. Me and my team will continue putting out music, we’ll continue doing community projects and keeping the trill fans satisfied, and that’s not gonna stop.

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