"I understand how real this world is and how real things can get, and that's what Occupy Houston is about."
In case you were wondering, UGK's "International Players Anthem" isn't about greedy global corporations. Joining the ranks of Talib Kweli, Kanye West and Lupe Fiasco, Bun B turned up at Occupy Houston this past Tuesday (October 11).
An offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement that began about a month ago in New York, Occupy Houston started several days ago when protesters began camping out at Hermann Square Park, adjacent to City Hall. "I think it's important that Bernard Freeman be here as a citizen of the world," Bun B told MTV, referring to his birth name. "And I think it's important that Bun B be here as a person of influence who has a voice that can bring attention to a cause."
The legendary Houston rapper said he also wanted to show that miconceptions about hip hop — that it's superficial and materialistic — aren't true. "It's very important that someone from the hip hop community is out here supporting Occupy Houston, simply because of the fact of how hip hop is represented in the world," he said. "I think a lot of people look at us as being these flashy, fly types of people who are just concerned with spending money, but that's not all of us — that's not what hip hop is here to do. We have individuals that represent that, and I represented that from time to time, but that doesn't make me who I am. I understand how real this world is and how real things can get and that's what Occupy Houston is about. It's not about what we do on the clock — it's about being off the clock and supporting people who can't even get on the clock right now."
Bun B mentioned Enron, the Houston-based company that dissolved due to shady internal practices in 2001. "The effects of the Enron collapse in Houston are still felt today," Bun said. "Not everyone who had strong jobs in that sector were able to find replacements for those jobs. A lot of people had to take positions in companies to do things that they didn't necessarily train for in order to support their families and that's kinda what we're standing for at Occupy Houston."
The former UGK MC went on to criticize media portrayals of the Occupy movement and also lashed out at corporate America. "The misconception about Occupy Houston is that it's a bunch of jobless people who don't wanna work and just want the rich to give them their money. Well, that's not true. The majority of these people are educated — not just high school, but they're college graduates, they have degrees, they've done what it takes to get into the workforce," he said. "Unfortunately, corporate America is not affording enough opportunities for people to go out get jobs and support their families. Instead of hiring more people, they're firing more people just to keep the numbers up. A company that makes $3 billion a year, it's still gonna function if they only make $2.8 billion a year in order to keep a couple people employed."
Bun wasn't just there for the cameras though — he pitched in by helping to distribute posters and announcing general assembly guidelines, which included symbols for voting yay (both hands held up), voting nay (both arms crossed like an X) and asking a question (one fist held up).
"Anybody that wants to understand the Occupy movement here in Houston a little better, across the country, as well as the world, can go to any of the Occupy sites and find all the real information, not the misinformation," Bun said.
Police were present at the occupation in force, but no arrests were made on Tuesday. The next day, however, several marchers were arrested outside of Houston's Mickey Leland Federal Building, where they were protesting Senate Republicans' filibuster of President Obama's jobs bill.
(Photo: MTV News)