No one ever said being a music icon was easy, but for Bernard “Bun B” Freeman, finding balance between public status and home life seems to be the least of his worries. As one half of the legendary Houston, Texas group UGK, Bun B is responsible for nearly two decades of trendsetting music in the “Dirty South” movement. With six UGK albums, two solo projects and numerous cameo contributions under his belt, there is no doubt of the hardy rapper’s mark in the business.
After the untimely death of his good friend and business partner Chad “Pimp C” Butler in 2007, Bun B was in a bad emotional space, and admittedly needed some down time after the 2008 release of his second album II Trill. “It had some great moments on it, but I wasn’t at 100% mentally,” he told UrbLife.com. Now on the verge of releasing his third solo album Trill O.G. on August 3, Bun B is more focused and creatively empowered than ever.
Fortunately, the 37-year-old artist has the full support of his wife Queenie and his two step-children, now ages 24 and 25. We recently had a great talk with Bun B about how he keeps his family life happy, safe and sane despite the sometimes chaotic music business.
What would you say are the keys to a happy home and marriage?
Bun B: I’ve been with my wife for 12 years, and we’ve been married for seven. The only thing that keeps a family and a marriage together is honesty. You can say financial stability and communication, but when you’re honest, everything that’s usually hidden in a relationship is approached.
With you traveling and being around groupies a lot, do you communicate with your wife about this and does she ask about it?
Bun B: That’s not an issue we really have. Once we got married, that became a non-issue. But that’s really up to the individual – a lot of guys tend to settle down before they’re really ready to. It’s good to have someone cook, clean and take care of stuff while you’re gone, but at the end of the day you have to be careful not to just have a marriage of convenience, and that’s what happens in a lot of households.
I met my wife when I wasn’t necessarily making a lot of money, and my wife is not a big fan of fame. I didn’t marry someone who craves the spotlight. Almost every time my wife comes somewhere it’s an argument, because she wants to stay home and I just want her to see some of these nicer things I get to experience. We take first class flights, stay in five star hotels, stay in big suites and walk red carpets, see famous people and take all of these pictures… and my wife’s not really about all of that kind of stuff.
She’s earned the right to do these things, and I constantly have to tell her, “I know you don’t want to come but you should, you’ve earned the right.” I can’t blame her for not wanting to participate. This industry is not real, and my wife is a very real individual, she keeps me steeped in reality. I’m 37 now, and she is [older than me].
Were there any complications when you guys first started dating, or did you always like older women?
Bun B: I won’t necessarily say that I liked older women… I don’t like silly, childish women. So it was always natural that I would end up with someone older than me, because it’s very seldom that people younger than you are on that kind of level. My wife is the perfect compliment for me.
How does she keep the home happy for you?
Bun B: She loves home decorating, but that doesn’t necessarily keep me happy, because every two weeks I end up with a new living room, but that’s how she keeps herself happy. The best thing my wife does for me is keep me grounded in reality. When you take someone like me who’s seen and done everything, I can get caught up in the moment of being around certain people.
I’m a big music fan, and for example, I recently met Eminem for the first time and she was like, “You’ll be fine, there’s no need for you to get all nervous. Do you need some medication? Are you gonna be okay?” [laughs]
When it comes to raising kids, do you guys agree or is there compromise?
Bun B: It’s definitely a compromise, but for the most part we saw eye to eye on little things. When the kids started dating we started having differences. I’m a dad so I don’t want anyone touching my daughter, but on the other hand she’s a woman and doesn’t want the child closeted for too long, because you get out there and have no way of dealing with people in a social setting. But now we have a grandbaby, and that’s a whole different issue.
You’re a grand dad before you’re 40! Does that surprise you, or were you excited by it?
Bun B: I was a little off put about the whole situation initially, because they weren’t married and I just wanted them to be a little more serious about what it is they were getting themselves into. But once you see this beautiful baby, there’s no way to be mad at that. You’re a man and you have to take care of your responsibility, I wanted to cement that into him.
I was very upset with him at first, but the closer we got to the baby, I started getting nervous. I wanted to make sure the baby was healthy, and when this beautiful baby was born that was just it. But now grandma over here can’t walk past any store with baby stuff in it without buying half of the place.
You got married when you were in your 20’s. Did any of your friends think you were crazy for that?
Bun B: I would say most of my friends did, but when people get concerned about you getting married it’s not necessarily about you, it’s about them. Especially in a circle of guys… if you’re the first to get married, the guys don’t want it because then they feel it puts pressure on them to pop the question. They’re going to be in the party and women will be there, they see the whole reception and that everything is beautiful, and they want that. When I got married it was like, “Great! Now my girl is asking me what I’m waiting on! Thanks a lot.”
How long did you date your wife, and when did you know she was the one you were going to spend your life with?
Bun B: I knew it when she told me she was the one I was going to spend the rest of my life with. She told me, “You’re my man” and I didn’t see a reason to disagree with her, so I just kind of ran with it. We dated for four years, then we got engaged and married.
What advice would you give someone who’s thinking about getting married?
Bun B: Be sure that this is something you want to do! A big misconception people have is that when you get married things get easier. When you get married you still have problems and go through things, but at least now you have somebody to go through these things with. You’re not alone. It’s not hard to find someone to celebrate the highs with, but it’s very rare that you find someone to be there with through all of the lows as well.