If Houston were to have its own Statue of Liberty, it would likely bear a striking resemblance to the underground icon Bun B. The legendary rapper turned entrepreneur and prolific collaborator has consistently kept Houston in the spotlight for over three decades.

In an exclusive interview, Bun B discusses everything from craft beers and mouthwatering burgers to the significance of Black-owned businesses and the value of travel within our community.

Photo Credit: @TheBrunchxgod

TN: How important is it for you to always put Houston’s culture in front? Why has that always been near and dear to you? How do you feel about being a portal for Houston to the rest of the world?

Bun B: I’ve been given so much by so many people in so many different places but nothing compares to the love and the support that I’ve been given from the city of Houston from day one. My wife is from Houston, my children went to school in Houston. Everything great about what my life is today, the heart and soul of that, starts in Houston. I go around the country doing shows, actually, I do more shows outside the city than in Houston. But the shows we do in Houston are so much more impactful. I try to give back to the city and its culture as much as possible.

I have been a cultural export from this city for over three decades now. So when I create these products, whether it’s a beer or a seltzer, or even a hamburger, this is all about making a deeper connection with the community but also being able to send more things from the community out into the world to be appreciated.

TN: You currently have a few business ventures generating significant buzz in Houston. Tell us a little bit about BrewGK beverages. Can you shed some light on your infamous Trill Burger and why you’re finally transitioning into a brick-and-mortar?

Bun B: For many years I looked at myself as a recording artist in the music industry. I’m really servicing people in the hospitality industry, that’s what music is, music is a life of service. I come to venues to entertain people and make sure they’re having a good time. If they’re not having a good time, walk them through it, help them get through those moments. I had to shift the dynamic to really take the things I learned in the past and utilize them in my future. If I looked at everything I did as just being about music and entertainment it would be very hard to transition that into other spaces but if I look at that as service and hospitality, well, there’s things I can pull from that and put them in other spaces. The easiest way to integrate those things was in the beverage space with the beer collaboration.

I thought it would be a great way to move into a different industry, create some residual income, and also create a tighter connection with the culture and community that I’m known for here in Houston so we created a beer called BrewGK. Staying on brand as much as possible. We try to give it the flavor of a candy apple because candy apple paint is a big deal here. Candy apples themselves are a big treat in town. Everything we do should execute its original purpose of existence and still have points of cultural integration involved in it. It just makes for a deeper experience for people and we were able to do that with a beer.

Trill Burger started as a pop-up concept almost two years ago. As I got more knowledgeable of the culinary scene, in the same way that an album represents me to the world, it’s me showing the better version of myself and trying to represent my environment and my community. Chefs made me realize that’s what they do with food. I had to understand there was no difference in the intention. Once I understood that dynamic I was like, ‘well I can still represent the city through the food.’ If I had another food concept and it works, that’s another way for me to represent the city and it affords people a deeper immersion into Bun B.

Trill Burgers Partners – Nick Scurfield, Mike Pham, Fernando Valladares, & Bun B – Photo Credit: Mark Champion

TN: Something our readers probably didn’t realize is that you’re a very well-traveled person. What do you feel is the importance of travel in the Black community?

Bun B: You gotta get out of your comfort zone and you gotta get out of your environment. I remember seeing the Eiffel Tower in encyclopedias… and Niagara Falls on television and movies and stuff like that, but you don’t really understand what Niagra Falls is until you go there and stand at the lip and as you walk up the mist starts to hit you in the face. The closer you get to the falls you start seeing snow, and then you realize it’s not snow it’s the mist from the falls freezing in the air falling down as snow. I cried, when you talk about God’s earth and the glory of God, when you have no idea where all that water is falling from and where it’s going to and how that cycle continuously happens in places all over the world since the creation of this planet. You really can’t take this on the phone [or] grasp Westminster Abby until you’re there. You really get to feel a different environment and see different things.

Once you leave your neighborhood and see something you never thought you’d see before, you want to go everywhere. My advice to people is to take a trip to somewhere you saw on tv. Think about a movie you saw and you said to yourself that looks live. Go there!