PORT ARTHUR, Texas – Thousands of family and friends said farewell Thursday to Pimp C, whose raspy Southern drawl and raw lyrical prowess attracted legions of fans.
The funeral was held at the Robert A. Bowers Civic Center in the rapper's southeast Texas hometown of Port Arthur. Bun B, Slim Thug, Chamillionaire, Mike Jones and Willie D of the Geto Boys were among those who attended.
Bishop Don Magic Juan, a former pimp-turned-rap-celebrity, arrived just minutes before the ceremony ended, causing a stir as he sauntered down the aisle with an entourage of women who were scantily clad in gold and red. He held a pimp cup and wore a foot-tall crown and a blue velvet cape.
Pimp C, one-half of the trailblazing rap duo Underground Kingz, was found dead Dec. 4 in the Mondrian Hotel in Los Angeles. He was 33.
Officials said the rapper, whose real name was Chad Butler, apparently died in bed and there were no signs of foul play. Autopsy and toxicology results weren't yet available.
UGK laid the groundwork for the unprecedented success of Southern rap in this decade, and countless rap superstars name the group as a major influence.
"Without him we wouldn't be where we are," Rap-A-Lot boss J Prince said. "I tell everybody, Pimp was Tupac (Shakur) to the South. We probably loved him even more than the West Coast loved 'Pac. Everybody that's rapping today is imitating Pimp."
Pimp C and Bun B formed UGK in the late 1980s and had the first of six major label releases in 1992. Despite an almost fanatical following in Texas and the South, and the critical acclaim of their 1996 album, "Ridin' Dirty," mainstream success evaded the duo for most of their 15-year career.
Still, Bun B's witty and thoughtful lyrics with Pimp C's almost hypnotic beats and over-the-top delivery on themes of sex, money and drugs in a seductive drawl were an irresistible combination to many.
"You hear so many Southern artists and hear their styles and the influence that Pimp C and Bun B had on the whole culture," Chamillionaire said. "We're created off of them. It's a very, very big loss to the hip-hop community and you are going to see the impact globally."
The religious ceremony also included the reading of a resolution by the mayor of Port Arthur and remembrances by Jeff Sledge of Jive Records and Pimp C's mother, Weslyn Monroe.
Flanked by two oversized banners adorned with pictures of Pimp C, Monroe talked about her son going to heaven and associated her only child with Shakur, who died in 1996.
"He's up there and he told them the Soooouth is here," she said in her best imitation of her son's Southern drawl to thunderous applause. "He told 'Pac to take a break because C got it for now."
The ceremony lasted almost two hours. Fans continued to remember Pimp C as they left, and the sounds of dueling UGK songs streamed out the windows of cars trapped in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
"He never let anyone forget that he was a Texas boy," Sledge said. "It was all about P.A. (Port Arthur). He was going to carry this city on his back. I'd never heard of this place before I met him."