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Rapper Pimp C, one-half of the veteran Houston rap group UGK, was found dead in the Mondrian Hotel in Hollywood Tuesday. He was 33.
“It is with great regret that I must confirm that Chad Butler aka Pimp C, one half of the legendary UGK, was in fact discovered dead,” his publicist, Nancy Byron, said in a statement. “Manager Rick Martin is asking that everyone please respect his family and those close to him at this time and refrain from rumors and innuendo.”
Pimp C, born Chad Butler, was found dead in the Mondrian hotel, a longtime music-industry hangout.
Butler and his partner, Bernard “Bun B” Freeman, were pioneers of Southern rap, and hit the mainstream with their cameo on Jay-Z’s smash “Big Pimpin’.” Though they never enjoyed the pop-chart success of some other rappers, their 1996 CD “Ridin’ Dirty” is considered a rap classic, and their laid-back sound, complete with gangsta tales of creeping through humid streets gripping wood-grain steering wheels, was influential in shaping the Southern rap movement.
The duo’s career was derailed when Butler was jailed for three years in 2002 on gun charges. He released an album while in prison, and this year the group made a comeback with the critically acclaimed album “Underground Kingz,” which included the hit “Int’l Player’s Anthem (I Choose You),” featuring OutKast.
Barry Weiss, CEO of their record label, Jive, said in a statement: “We mourn the unexpected loss of Chad. He was truly a thoughtful and kind-hearted person. He will be remembered for his talent and profound influence as a pioneer in bringing southern rap to the forefront.”
Butler, who grew up in Port Arthur, Texas, came from a musical lineage. His father was a professional trumpet player, and the rapper studied classical music in high school. He even received a Division I rating on a tenor solo at a University Interscholastic League choir competition.
“That’s how I came up listening to everything,” he told The Associated Press in a 2005 interview.
“Music don’t have no color or no face. It’s a universal language. I think being exposed to all that kind of stuff influences the way I make records.”
But it was rap music that would become his passion. Together with Bernard “Bun B” Freeman, Butler’s friend since junior high, they started UGK, short for Underground Kingz.
Manager Rick Martin, who was on hand this morning to identify the body of client and dear friend Chad Butler aka Pimp C, offers this statement regarding today’s tragic loss:
This morning saw the loss of a man that was not only a client, but a very dear friend at a time when he had the most to live for. He was my best friend and I will always love him.
Chad’s tragic passing leaves behind mourners the world over, including his mother, wife and children whom Chad loved more than anything. An official cause of death has yet to be determined.
I was so very proud of Chad and the growth he has shown since his release from prison; as an artist and business man and as a person. As one half of the legendary Texas group UGK, Chad was finally seeing the results of the years of love and labor that he and Bun B have put in over the years, culminating in the tremendous success of their album, Underground Kingz. Chad was set to soar with not only a new solo deal on Jive Records, but a lucrative publishing deal, a new satellite radio show, several group projects and a national cologne endorsement. Chad had everything to live for, making his unexpected passing a travesty.
Right now, my number one concern is the well being and livelihood of his family who are the ones most deeply affected by this loss. All efforts will be made to ensure that they are properly cared for in this tragic time and beyond.
As Chad’s friend and manager, and on behalf of his family and those closest to him, we ask that you, the press keep reports of his passing to tributes to his amazing contributions as an artist and wait for the facts surrounding his death to come to light. Please let us all remember Pimp C as the kind and warmhearted man and rap music pioneer that he was.