Bucky done gone

Sage Francis’s erratic, brilliant opener
By CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  July 11, 2007

"Facing the music: Sage Francis answers Mainers' questions." By Sonya Tomlinson.
Let’s talk about Buck 65’s identity crisis.

Here’s an alt-rapper — white, Nova Scotian — who earned a major-label record deal in the early ’00s after a series of early cassettes and underground releases established him as perhaps the most provocative artist on hip-hop’s most progressive label (Bay Area stalwart Anticon).

A dude who disowned what’s universally considered his best album (1999’s Vertex), calling it “experimental without a purpose. My voice is still annoying. Even when I’m trying to be sincere and heart-felt, I sound like a brat.”

Who shifted styles from manufactured beats and nasal youthfulness to live instrumentation (ranging from Tom Waits story-folk to early-Beck spazism) and a husky, sometimes asthmatic snarl with haste.

Who later disowned hip-hop as a genre, infamously stating in an interview with Kerrang! magazine: “I now hate hip hop, the more I’ve educated myself about music, the more I’ve grown to hate it. I don’t use that word lightly, either.” This earned the condemnation of tour-mate Sage Francis, though Buck has since apologized for his comments and the two made up.

And also: was drafted by the New York Yankees before he blew out his knee; danced with indie-pop goddess Feist in her cute, awkward video for “One Evening;” once voiced “rapping Elmo;” swore off using expletives in his music, but backpedaled on that too.

If Buck’s made himself difficult to devoutly admire, he’s never lacked for unpredictability, or raw talent. While the triumph of Vertex — an exercise in haunting minimalism and irreproachable samples — and Buck’s early releases seems bygone, his recent work is still singular. 2005’s Secret House Against the World, his last LP (follow-up The Situation will drop in September), merges his (compellingly) tone-deaf cadence with sex-soaked electro (“Kennedy Killed the Hat”), avant-punk drum-and-bass (“Le 65isme”), and piano-driven beat poetry (“The Floor”). On album highlight “Surrender to Strangeness,” Buck admits he “can’t tell the difference between real art and high kitsch,” and his erratic relationship to his genre (musically and lyrically) attests to that. He is, though, the rare rapper aiming for either.

  Topics: Live Reviews , Entertainment, Hip-Hop and Rap, Music,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY CHRISTOPHER GRAY
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   TEN YEARS, A WAVE  |  September 26, 2014
    As the festival has evolved, examples of Fowlie’s preferred breed of film—once a small niche of the documentary universe—have become a lot more common, a lot more variegated, and a lot more accomplished.
  •   GIRLS (AND BOYS) ON FILM  |  July 11, 2014
    The Maine International Film Festival, now in its 17th year in Waterville, remains one of the region’s more ambitious cultural institutions, less bound by a singular ambition than a desire to convey the breadth and depth of cinema’s past and present. (This, and a healthy dose of music and human-interest documentaries.) On that account, MIFF ’14 is an impressive achievement, offering area filmgoers its best program in years. With so much to survey, let’s make haste with the recommendations. (Particularly emphatic suggestions are marked in bold print.)  
  •   AMERICAN VALUES  |  June 11, 2014
    The Immigrant  seamlessly folds elements of New York history and the American promise into a story about the varieties of captivity and loyalty.
  •   CHARACTER IS POLITICAL  |  April 10, 2014
    Kelly Reichardt, one of the most admired and resourceful voices in American independent cinema, appears at the Portland Museum of Art Friday night to participate in a weekend-long retrospective of her three most recent films.
  •   LET'S TALK ABOUT SEX  |  April 09, 2014
    Throughout its two volumes and four hours of explicit sexuality, masochism, philosophical debate, and self-analysis, Nymphomaniac remains the steadfast vision of a director talking to himself, and assuming you’ll be interested enough in him to listen and pay close attention.

 See all articles by: CHRISTOPHER GRAY