From the reemergence of chopped and screwed music, gold grills and foam cup prescriptions, to countless references and mentions in new rap lyrics, Houston music culture has garnered an unprecedented amount of attention recently. But if you talk to Chinara Butler, the widow of the late Pimp C, she’ll tell you about a completely different “emerging” scene in H-Town – one that involves the hip hop community and its support for the health and wellness of the neighbors. We spoke to the proactive health expert about her annual festival and how it’s making great strides to change the outlook of the city, its statistics, and honor the legacy of Pimp C.
Mass Appeal: For those of us that may not be familiar, can you tell us a bit about who you are, what you do, and who Pimp C was to you?
Chinira Butler: Sure. I’m Chinara Butler. Widow, and mother to the only daughter, of the late, great Chad Butler AKA Pimp C. I’m Jamaican and Creole by heritage, and would describe myself as a multi-faceted woman with great determination. Not only have I worked in the health field for over 18 years, my new roles include executor of the Pimp C estate, executive producer of Chad’s musical compositions, CEO of UGQ (Underground Queenz), the visionary behind the Chad ‘Pimp C’ Butler Hip Hop, Health & Wellness Festival, and soon to be author.
MA: When did the idea for a health and wellness festival first occur to you?
CB: In 2008, I met Corey Garrett and we began talking about a way to pay tribute to, and carry on, Chad’s legacy outside of music. When I was made aware of the HIV/STD rates among young African Americans and Latinos in Houston and some of the surrounding counties in Texas it was a no-brainer for us to do something in the community to raise awareness on these diseases. We held the first festival in Port Arthur in 2009 and since then it has moved to Houston.
MA: What have been some of the biggest challenges in organizing it?
CB: Early on, one of the biggest challenges was finding a location large enough, but not engulfing, to accommodate the turnout. Once that was solidified, we then had to find a way to give the numerous health organizations in Houston that have reached out to us an opportunity to participate. We’ve come up with a system to give different organizations the opportunity to collaborate with us each year.
MA: Considering the statistics of healthcare among the black population in the US how difficult or responsive was the Houston community to the idea?
CB: The Houston community, especially the youth and young adults, have been very responsive to the festival because we offer people the opportunity to become educated about health issues in a festive atmosphere. Once the people get to the venue, they find information and screenings are available that they would usually have to go to a clinic, or other medical provider to receive. The response has been all positive. And the best part is that all the screenings are free!
MA: What are some of the biggest health problems concerning the Houston community?
CB: Among African American and Latino youth and young adults, HIV and syphilis have been running rampant since 2007. In addition, diabetes and obesity have increased at alarming rates. Houston has been listed among the “fattest” cities in America, so healthy eating, proper exercise, and routine wellness exams are essential.
MA: What are some of the reasons behind these problems?
CB: Diabetes and obesity are a direct result of unhealthy diet and lack of exercise. As far as HIV and syphilis; unprotected sex, lack of education, multiple sex partners, and drug and alcohol use prior to sex contributes to the high HIV and syphilis morbidity rates.
MA: What has been the celebrity and hip hop community’s response to the festival?
CB: I can’t help but say that the outpouring of love and support we have received has been overwhelming. Chamillionaire, Paul Wall, Z-Ro, Chingo Bling, Trae Tha Truth, Swisha House, Big K.R.I.T, Tami Roman, just to name a few, have taken time out of their very busy schedules to come out and show support for this day of celebration.
MA: Who have the biggest supporters been and why?
CB: Without a doubt, my big brother Bun B and Terri Thomas (Program Director at KBXX 97.9 “The Box”) have been championing this cause since day one. The special bond Chad and Bun shared is timeless and can never be broken. With that being said, Bun has always made sure that he has participated in this annual celebration. Terri has always celebrated Chad’s legacy in music with tributes annually on his birthday and on the day of his untimely passing, so when we told her we were putting something together for the community she was fully cooperative. The Box truly cares about the health and wellness of its listeners so this fell right in line with their mission.
MA: What have been the biggest strides and improvements made since you started?
CB: The diversity in ages and races this event has attracted over the years. Additionally, the level of untapped talent Houston has to offer is amazing. We let independent artists start performing at the event in 2011 and you’d be surprised at the unbelievable musical talent that H-Town has to offer.
MA: Can you run us through a typical day at the festival from start to finish.
CB: Doors always open at 2 p.m. We usually have a mini-exhibit of some of Chad’s Gold/Platinum plaques and personal item on display for fans to take pics of and see up close. We have our community health partners with display tables set up so event attendees can visit the tables and get info. Our emcee is encouraging attendees to benefit from the screenings available all while peaceful fellowship is happening.
MA: What are the highlights?
CB: The highlights are usually the exhibit of Chad’s items, the prizes that are raffled off to attendees that receive screenings, live entertainment, and the opportunity that event attendees have to interact and take pictures with celebrities is a sight to see. I think we enjoy that the most. No celebrity that has attended has had bodyguards or seemed unapproachable to fans. It’s a beautiful thing. But most importantly, Chamillionaire brings out Chad’s customized drop-top Eldorado Cadillac that he drove in the “Pouring Up” video. That’s always a hit at this event.
MA: What’s the most fulfilling part about putting it all together?
CB: Knowing that we are making a difference in affecting the health and wellness of so many of Chad’s fans. Hip hop takes a bad rap, no pun intended, for so many things. This is another opportunity the hip hop community gets to prove the non-believers and naysayers wrong. And keeping Chad’s legacy moving forward is icing on the cake.
MA: Who are some of the partners and organizations involved?
CB: This year our partners include: Houston Department of Health & Human Services, UGQ, CCM Foundation, Fit Mixz Studio, KBXX 97.9 The Box, Walgreen’s, Swisha House, Minute Maid, M.A.A.D. Studios, Countryraptunes.com, Harris Health System, Bee Busy Learning Academy, Shalimar Media Group, Vida Lounge, and Patrón.
MA: What new things or surprises do you have planned for this year?
CB: We’re definitely incorporating a glucose screening and BMI screening at the festival. We’re partnering with Mass Appeal to announce an annual art competition in Chad’s honor that will benefit his scholarship fund. We also have a few surprises, but I can’t let the cat out of the bag. You’ll just have to attend!
MA: UGK and the Houston hip hop scene has garnered a lot attention for its unique style and contributions to the culture. Why do you think the legacy is so popular and important?
CB: The swag, the language, the cars, the Houston/Port Arthur music sound has influenced so many, it’s undeniable. From Drake to Kanye to A$AP Mob, you can hear the influence in the raps and definitely in the production.
MA: The recent popularity of the Houston hip hop – more specifically the chopped and screwed scene – has also popularized the image of codeine/sizzurp/lean among new fans. What are your thoughts on this?
CB: It’s true that Houston hip hop has made the image more global, but you have to realize that codeine/sizzurp/lean was around and being consumed in the streets long before someone said it on record. In the same manner we had the “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” slogan associated with rock music, alcohol consumption associated with country music, and heavy heroin use associated with early blues and R&B legends all music has its substance association. This year in hip hop, the highly popularized drug is Molly. Next year, or maybe in a couple years, it’ll be something else.
MA: What’s the long term goal for the Health and Wellness Festival? What is something you’d like to accomplish for future ones?
CB: The long term goal is that one day my daughter Christian will be organizing the 50th Annual Pimp C Hip Hop, Health & Wellness Festival. More importantly, I’d like Christian to not feel pressured into keeping her father’s legacy alive through music only. This will give her another outlet to keep the legacy going. We’d like to definitely see our attendance grow each year and eventually have the festival over an entire weekend.
MA: Why is health and wellness so important to tie into Pimp C’s legacy? What were his thoughts on the health and wellness of the community as a whole?
CB: It’s important because many people who didn’t know Chad and only read an article surrounding his death have a misconception about who Chad really was. Health and wellness affects everyone. If one person can become aware of the effects of long term unauthorized codeine use, or the dangers of unhealthy eating and unprotected sex it’s a win. Chad was very informed on health issues that affected his fans. You can hear him talk about HIV/AIDS in his verse on the song “High Life.” During his incarceration, Chad became a certified health educator. Months before his death he gave a funny, but informative, bit of information about condom use in the award winning documentary “H.ip Hop’s I.nsight & V.iews.”
MA: Is there anything else you’d like to add or say to the readers and fans of Pimp C’s music and legacy?
CB: First, I know Chad’s fans have been waiting so I want to let them know that I’m very excited about Chad’s upcoming 2014 solo project that I’ll be collaborating with Juicy J on. Chad Butler is the “man.” Pimp C is the “entertainer.” I can’t even put into words how great a father, husband and best friend Chad was. I want readers to understand that there was much more to Chad than what you hear in a verse or in an interview. His music is timeless and will be sampled and used forever in hip hop. The true students understand and respect what Chad’s influence was on hip hop culture and they will allow it to live forever.
The 5th Annual Health and Wellness Festival goes down on Saturday, Dec. 28th 2013 2 – 6 p.m. at the 3rd Ward Multi-Service Center (3611 Ennis St. Houston, Texas). Attendees can expect free health screenings, refreshments, entertainment, and special guest appearances.
Artists and fans should also note that the 1st annual “Smoke Sumthin” art contest will be taking place with proceeds going directly to the Chad “Pimp C” Butler scholarship fund.