On this week’s episode of “Drink Champs” N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN were joined by Houston’s own Bun B. In a short but detailed conversation, the trio bounced around a number of topics, really getting into the bread and butter of Bun’s Trill Burgers brand.
Years after rising as one of the South’s premiere duos alongside Pimp C, UGK member Bun B embarked on a solo rap career. Though he stayed close to hip hop, over the last two decades, Bun started to cut his teeth as an entrepreneur. He created a coloring book (“Bun B’s Rap Coloring Book”) and taught at Rice University as a lecturer. However, his most successful side mission to date has been getting a food line off of the ground.
It all began when Bun and his partner Premium Pete created a food blog (yougottaeatthis.com) in 2013. Later, when Bun was approached with the idea of being the face of Trill Burgers, he was blown away by the taste and officially jumped on board to push the product. Just last year, Trill Burgers was named as the best burger in the country by “Good Morning America,” an honor that further solidified the work that Bun has been doing as a businessman.
Checking in from Sugar Land, Texas, Bun B explained how he and the brand have been able to rise through the ranks. He, of course, spoke on his historic position in the rap game as well. In summary, nine takeaways from the conversation can be found below, and fans can watch the full interview here.
1. On how going into the culinary industry restored his passion
Bun B broke down the reason why he’s going so hard in the food market and addressed how getting into it reinvigorated his energy on a day-to-day basis. “When these burgers came into my life, I was like, this is it,” Bun began. “This is what I been waiting for all my life. I haven’t felt anything like this [feeling] since probably hip hop, getting married and this,” he said. “[It aligns] with passion, it aligns with purpose. It makes me wanna be present in the moment and learn s**t.”
2. On why people love Trill Burgers
When Bun B first tried Trill Burgers, he was blown away by it. He knew that other folks would feel the same. “Not only was it the best burger I had ever had by far, but it was one of the best meals I had ever had. That’s why people keep coming back to Trill Burgers. Because it’s so satisfying. And the flavor and the taste and the product has been consistent.”
He continued to elaborate on why the company has seen so much recent success: “We’ve broken every record. Every music festival we’ve ever been to, we’ve broken every single day and weekend vendor record anybody’s ever had,” he said. “It’s not only an incredible food product, but it has 30 years of trill culture built into it. So there’s residual benefits to not just buying the burger but supporting the brand.”
3. On the expansion of Trill Burgers
Though it’s a hit in Texas, Bun B has big plans for his burger line that go beyond The Lone Star State. “I’m excited to bring this burger to New Orleans, to bring this burger to Atlanta, to Detroit. But also cities like the Louisville’s and the St. Louis’ of the world. The Cincinnati’s and Columbus, Ohio’s. I think everybody should have an opportunity to have the best burger in the world,” he declared.
On the note of growing bigger, Bun also voiced that the company has just launched Trill Tenders. The product recently won top honors at the national chicken tender festival, Tenderfest, and will be completely separate from the burger line. “The reason it’s a beast is because it’s the freshest tender,” he said. “You’re gonna get a quality product, you’re gonna get an ample serving. It doesn’t make sense to consolidate that because I believe that it’s its own brand that can stand on its own two feet.”
4. On how being an entertainer can inform entrepreneurship
In light of everyone celebrating 50 years of hip hop, Bun B asserted that this is a perfect time for artists to get involved with other endeavors, considering how they’re likely already equipped to do so. “I think most artists have to have some type of business acumen in order to be successful. But there isn’t anything that you can’t learn from being successful in the entertainment industry that won’t transition into other things,” he expressed. “The way you communicate with people, knowing who to talk to, who to look for when you walk in a room. All of those transition into any factor of life.”
5. On why he collaborates with Exotic Pop
For those who don’t know, Exotic Pop is a Black-owned boutique beverage brand that specializes in hard-to-find flavors. Bun B talked about why he offers their drinks at his place of business. “They were able to create these sodas for many of [the] Houston artists that have passed away by selling these sodas and giving the proceeds to the family,” he voiced. “It’s a way that we can continue to honor their memory and [back their] families. And so, what we’ve been doing at Trill Burger, is that when it’s somebody’s anniversary of their passing, if they have an Exotic Pop soda, we do a special combo with the burger and the soda to raise money for the family on that day.”
6. On the respect he’s earned in the rap game
Bun B has decades of experience as a respected artist under his belt. Even OGs have saluted the rapper and entrepreneur, which is something that is never lost on him. With that in mind, he recalled a recent Hip Hop 50 event in Los Angeles where he was saluted by legends such as Public Enemy’s Chuck D and Flava Flav.
“When my OGs show love like that, it’s only right that I be as gracious,” he started. “I had to fight to get there, but there were people with their foot in the door, holding it open for me. And they appreciate the way that I came in and the way I represented the culture and it’s so fulfilling because before there was any more, cars and mansions and all of that, you wanted rappers that was nice to say that you was nice. And I’ve been able to say that pretty much everybody I looked up to as an artist, looks at me as a real rapper,” he stated. “I’m really out here doing my thing and that’s an amazing thing to carry.”
7. On the presence of hip hop in commercial markets
When DJ EFN asked Bun B if he thought that rap music would make it to the point where people are able to create additional brands off of it, Bun B punched in with an interesting answer. “I’ve been here long enough to remember when hip hop almost, just off the general principal, rejected sponsorship. Because we were very concerned about corporations coming in and really taking advantage of the culture,” he said in reference to the early 1990s when artists like MC Hammer and Kid ‘N Play had their own respective cartoons.
“At first they tried to dictate it and manipulate it and present it in their way but it started to come off as parody,” he continued. “It wasn’t until they started bringing authentic voices from the culture into the space to allow them to tell the story.” That inclusive move shaped the game as it is right now, according to Bun. “There isn’t a product on the planet right now that doesn’t sell itself through hip hop,” he expressed.
8. On who UGK would do a Verzuz with if Pimp C was still here
Plenty of rap fans would argue that UGK exists in a lane of their own, especially when it comes to Southern rap, and Bun B appears to believe the same. When asked who they would battle with if Pimp C was still alive, he said, “I don’t know if there’s anyone besides  Ball and [MJ]G for us to go up against.” He added, “I don’t even know what UGK would look like right now. There would be different albums at this point so by the time we got to Verzuz, it might not be nobody that could’ve held this s**t.”
9. On modern-day artists carrying the legacy of Pimp C
N.O.R.E. asked the UGK member if there was anyone in the music industry that reminded him of Pimp C. Bun B expressed that no one could hit the nail on the head fully, but still shouted out a number of artists who show flashes of the departed legend.
“Megan Thee Stallion embodies a lot of what Pimp C represented. I think that’s why it was so jarring for people to see it coming from a woman,” Bun expressed. “I think Club God, BeatKing, I think he’s talking about a lot of the crazy, nasty s**t Pimp would be talking about. I think there’s a lot of people that carry his beliefs, like [Big] Krit. Krit carries this passion of making Southern musical production at a very high level. Killer Mike has the care and concern of his community and his people that Pimp had,” he pointed out.