After signing with Jive Records in the early '90s, their initial success was largely limited to fans of the Dirty South genre and the hip hop music press. However, a prominent guest appearance on Jay-Z's hit single "Big Pimpin'" in 2000 (and later, Three 6 Mafia's "Sippin' on Some Syrup"), gave UGK the national exposure that could have earned them a wider audience, greater recognition and mainstream success. However, they failed to capitalise on his break due to Pimp C's legal problems which led to a stint in jail.
Pimp C also worked with Celly Cel, C-Bo, Spice 1 and Devin the Dude on a number of projects. He invested in and endorsed Trill Entertainment in 2001 for its label launch. Pimp C stated that he would be releasing an album alongside rapper Too Short during his appearance on the show Sucker Free on MTV. Rolling Stone named "I'm Free" (Pimpalation) as #80 on its list of 100 best songs of 2006.
On August 15, 2006, Pimp C appeared on BET's "Rap City." He was interviewed and gave his thoughts on multiple topics, including his current album, Pimpalation, and beefs in the music industry. He also stressed that rappers need to unionize in order to keep from being used by record companies, a point he has stressed in previous interviews. Pimp C also stepped into the booth during the show and did an off the head freestyle to Bun B's track "Draped Up". He stated that it was the first freestyle he had done since being released from prison. He released his debut solo album, The Sweet James Jones Stories, in March 2005 through Rap-A-Lot Records. Bun B and Rap-a-Lot records had waged a 'Free Pimp C' movement, spread through music, Free Pimp C t-shirts and caps.
In 2007 Pimp C released a DVD along with Pimpin Ken called "The Best of Both Worlds."
Butler was sentenced to eight years in prison on January 28, 2002 for failing to complete a community service requirement stemming from an aggravated assault charge.
He was released on Friday, December 30, 2005 from the Terrell Prison Unit in Rosharon, Texas after serving about half of his eight-year sentence. He was to be on parole until December of 2009.
He was treated for minor injuries on April 18, 2006, after he was involved in a car accident while leaving the video shoot for his single "Pourin' Up." A Port Arthur Police officer that was escorting the rappers responded to gunfire and pursued the shooters. As the suspects fled through local neighborhoods on a flat tire, they crossed over Gulf Way Drive, ran a red light and struck Butler's Bentley at high speed. He was treated for minor injuries and released. A Rap-A-Lot security guard also spent time in the hospital before making a full recovery.
On December 4, 2007, Pimp C was found dead at the Mondrian Hotel in West Hollywood, California, after Los Angeles County Fire Department responded to a 911 call. The department arrived to his sixth floor hotel room to find Pimp C dead in bed. This was three days after Pimp C performed with Too Short at the House of Blues in Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles County Coroner's office state Pimp C died from an accidental overdose of Promethazine/Codeine "syrup" mixed with a pre-existing medical condition, sleep apnea, which causes a person to stop breathing during sleep. An overdose of this mixture also allegedly caused the death of rap producer DJ Screw.
- 2005: Sweet James Jones Stories
- 2006: Pimpalation #3 US Gold, U.S. Sales: 372,000 – Worldwide Sales: 399,900
- 2008: Last Tribute
- 2006: "I'm Free"
- 2006: "Pourin' Up" (featuring Mike Jones & Bun B)
- 2006: "Knockin' Doorz Down" (featuring P.O.P. & Lil Keke)