Days after the white nationalist gatherings and the terrorist attack in Charlottesville, Va. that shook the country over the weekend, Texas A&M University has canceled a white supremacist rally on its campus that was scheduled for next month.
"With no university facilities afforded him, [organizer Preston Wiginton] chose instead to plan his event outdoors for September 11 at Rudder Plaza, in the middle of campus, during a school day, with a notification to the media under the headline 'Today Charlottesville, Tomorrow Texas A&M," the school said in a statement. "Linking the tragedy of Charlottesville with the Texas A&M event creates a major security risk on our campus."
But if you ask Bun B, the rally should have never been scheduled in the first place. As hip-hop's elder statesman in Houston, the UGK member knows something about racism in the South. He called REVOLT to speak about the incident at Texas A&M, and just hours later, President Donald Trump spewed even more incendiary comments about the incident, saying the "Alt-Left" deserved just as much blame as white supremacists. Read below for a conversation about Bun B's disappointment in Texas A&M, seeing racism in Houston, his recent appearance on "Drink Champs," and why he respects Cardi B.
So as you know, Texas A&M just canceled a white supremacist rally that was scheduled for September 11. What kind of relationship do you have with the university?
I’m friends with Coach Tumlin, I’ve been back and forth with the university since he started coaching during back in the Johnny [Manziel] days. So I have a lot of respect for the university. I’m not sure why they allowed this to happen in the first place. Most of the time when they organize these things, they do them under hidden names and hidden organizations. They don’t blatantly say, “this is what we’re doing.” It’s never the main person pushing the agenda. If [white supremacist] Richard Spencer and one of these nationalists choose to go in these spaces, they use a much lesser known person to reserve the hall that’s maybe not as known as these white nationalist organizations.
Some schools’ position is that as universities, they have to be headquarters of different thoughts, and present these different ideas, even if they’re hateful, so the students can evaluate them themselves.
I don’t believe in that because I know that the majority of the universities in America are receiving government funding or some kind of government subsidization. Which means that our money is paying for that. I don’t think most people would want their money, if it was going to a university, to promote hate speech. I think when we consistently use the first amendment as a way to promote ugly, hateful and divisive language, it’s a perversion of what that amendment truly stands for.
Everyone considers you as the authority of Texas. What was your reaction when you first heard about this rally? Did you hear about it before it was canceled?
I’ve seen the pattern of what they’re trying to do by organizing these things on September 11. It’s appalling that these people would take a day of a tragedy, a day of terrorism, the worst day in recent memory in this country, and try to use that day to promote their twisted, warped and perverted agenda. It’s one of the most disgraceful things I’ve ever seen anyone do. And it just shows how ugly these neo-Nazi and white nationalist people can be. You look at the headline on one of these websites, and they’re literally painting the young woman that the white nationalist ran over and murdered at the rally and protest as a “fat slut.” These are ugly human beings, and they’re trying to lean on the constitution, and they’re trying to lean on the Bible, and they’re trying to lean on the young, impressionable minds of America, and it’s fucked up. I’ll be the first to say that it’s fucked up. I refuse to not be a part of the fight against people trying to keep this world divided, as opposed to united.
How frustrating is it to know that if it weren’t for what happened on Saturday, that this wouldn’t have been canceled?
Right? It took someone to die, and for hundreds of people to engage in actual physical confrontation. And you see guys sucker punch a woman. This is something I’ve seen time and time again with these people. They always want to act so tough, and they want to fight. But every time the cameras are rolling...we have to give our women credit. When I’m on the road with Vice magazine, and I’ve been out at these different places, I always see small, tiny women confronting these big ugly men, time and time again. And these men have no comparison, and no heart. I don’t understand how they call themselves men, and I don’t understand how women stand next to these men.
...I understand the university trying to let all of its students have an equal voice on campus, but none of their students should be able to voice opinions that serve to denigrate and demean the integrity and identity of anyone on that campus. Everyone should have the right to enjoy their experience, and not have to worry about if groups of people are meeting because they don’t like you. The college experience is hard and demanding enough without students subjected to that kind of objectification on campus. It’s ridiculous.
The South is already known as a hub of racism in general. What is the racial tension like in Texas, specifically?
To be honest, it’s rising. It’s a little par for the course. There are pockets in the South that simply have not changed. There are very small towns in between the hustling and bustling cosmopolitan cities that exist in the south. For every Houston, there’s a Vidor. It still exists here. My wife and I, we travel a lot by car because we like to drive and see the scenery and stuff. We were coming back from Lake Charles one time. Driving from Texas to Jena, Louisiana, people put up Confederate flags; there’s only one way to get to Jena, and people know they live in the route, so they were putting up Confederate flags in their lawns along the way so [white supremacists] would feel comfortable as they drove into town. But even recently, driving from Lake Charles into Houston, we got through Vidor, and we got to a trailer park that had a Confederate flag flying off of it. I saw a several-car caravan one day driving through Beigetown, Texas, with a flag on every four corners. They were out in full force. I’m starting to see it a lot more and more.
… There are cities in America where [black people] see this and it isn’t, “oh, I hope they don’t come to my community.” Their whole frame of mind is, “oh my God, here we go again.” That’s what we’re dealing with in the south. Now they’re emboldened, again. Now they’re aggressive, again. Now they’re angry, again. Now they’re going to be trying to hunt us, again. That’s what we’re dealing with in the South, that’s why we’re so adamant about trying to nip this shit in the bud as soon as possible.
To shift gears from such a serious subject, you were also on “Drink Champs” recently. What was it like to chop it up with N.O.R.E and DJ EFN?
The only difference between every other conversation I’ve had with N.O.R.E and the podcast I just did is that it was recorded and videotaped. Other than that, it’s the same scenario I would find myself in with a person like that. In-depth conversation, and out of nowhere, “why are you even saying that right now?” kind of questions. [laughs] That’s who N.O.R.E naturally is. It’s amazing that he had this lightbulb moment to think that other people would be remotely interested. If you know N.O.R.E, he’s one of those people who is always fun to talk to. Him and E-40 are kind of like that, guys who are just really great to be in their company and let them talk and be them. It’s just amazing to see how individualistic they are. They’re not bits and pieces of anything. They’re pure, genuine people, and it’s refreshing to see in an industry where everyone is always trying to put their best foot forward or recreate themselves completely. You already know every time you see N.O.R.E, it’s going to be some crazy shit. To have him presenting himself to the world like that, and everyone receive him, is great to watch.
You also spoke about Travis Scott, and how you can identify with the Texas references in his music. He's huge right now, but I don't think people associate him with Houston like that.
When you listen to Travis Scott and you’re from Houston, and you listen to the words he’s saying, and the places he’s talking about. When he says Mo City, we know where that is. Someone else may not know what that is. When he says 713 or 281, he’s talking to us. It may be presented in a different way than most people are used to seeing Houston music represented, but he identifies as a Houstonian and he’s always put those different things. Just like Beyonce used to do, Beyonce would always put these little Third Ward shoutouts, and South Side, and different things in the songs that we understood and we identified with, specifically as Houstonians. Travis does that as well in his music.
You went to OVO Fest this year as well. What stood out to you about that experience?
It’s three things that stand out. One, it’s probably one of the most impressive stage designs I’ve ever seen. I’ve never seen a set that was so perfectly designed for the people they were performing in front of. I’ve never seen anything that would make it more excited, but also more proud. … OVO Fest has always been about bringing things to Toronto that Toronto has never had, or artists they’ve never seen. That’s kind of been his thing. But that set kind of set the tone for the night. Like, we’re going to do what we do, but make no mistake about it, tonight is your night. [Drake] made it about the city.
The second thing was the squashing of the beef publicly with him and Tory Lanez. That was a really, really significant moment of the night. It showed a unity between two of Toronto’s biggest artists right now. That’s the only thing that was missing from Toronto having that pure united front. OVO and XO, which is The Weeknd and his team, they all get along now. The only people from Toronto that are actually successful right now that are making major moves in the industry Toronto right now are Drake and Tory, so once they stop their beef, Toronto sees a completely united front.
And honestly, and me and my wife were talking about this, the Cardi B moment. It’s amazing to see when a young artist finds their way, and the people agree. Nobody ever gave her any credit for anything. So everything she’s ever got was all her. She fought for it. People may disagree with me. I’m not saying she’s the best rapper or anything like that, but it’s hard to build a buzz, man. And most people try to count the people on those [reality] shows as out, and not having a real chance in the market. She has proven this wrong. She deserves everything she’s getting right now. I heard that entire crowd of people sing that song. She’s got a moment. You never know how long those moments last. She’s earned it fully, and I hope she gets everything out of it that she’s supposed to.