If there was such a thing as an Official Ambassador of Texas, Bun B would be it, and he made his case closing out Fader Fort on Wednesday night.
Despite delays that pushed his set back by 45 minutes, he wasted no time launching into a bevy of Houston classics, starting with “Draped Up,” with its video as a backdrop rife with classic SLABs and grills like it was the 2000s all over again. South by Southwest is often the first exposure to Austin and Texas in general for many, and Houston rap itself predicated many rap trends, especially the chopped and screwed sound that set the template for today’s slow, moody rap. He sold Texas cool effortlessly, blazing through “Get Throwed” and “You’re Everything” and looking genuinely glad to perform and be the face of Texas.
If you’re a Texas native, or got here as fast as you could, you’ve likely heard these songs coming out from legions of cars, and yet they never grow old. Bun B also debuted his new song “Know I’m Saying” to Austin, though its guests Slim Thug and Lil Keke sadly were not present. Frankly, it’s amazing it took him this long to pen a song named after such an integral part of Houston speech. Trinidad James of “All Gold Everything” fame was watching from the side of the stage, and he could use a lesson in longevity.
Bun B shows are always a blast, but death is predominant in them, too — there were many shout outs to Pimp C, his fallen UGK comrade, Houston rap originator DJ Screw, and Fat Pat. Texas never forgets, and it never stops eulogizing. He dedicated “One Day,” UGK’s somber classic, to teenagers protesting gun violence in the wake of Parkland. Its slowed funk is already one of the most moving songs in his catalog, and it gained new life as a protest anthem. He should be governor already, frankly. No matter how strong your credentials are, you didn’t have a hand in “International Players Anthem.” And given how SXSW sometimes overlooks artists in its home state, Bun B made sure you didn’t leave him out of the conversation.