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Buck 65 - This Right Here Is Buck 65

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Artist: Buck 65

Album: This Right Here Is Buck 65

Label: V2

Review date: Jan. 4, 2005

Back in ’95, the captain of my North Carolina high school’s football team had some stuff stolen from his truck. The perp swiped his rap tapes, but left his country intact. What might have happened had Buck 65 been in there?

The Beastie Boys may have brought vernacular poetics and digital beat science to the pale mainstream, but they didn’t suburbify it. House of Pain was the first hip hop act to appeal squarely to gringos from the hills. Since then, hick hop has survived, ebbing and flowing sporadically. Master P, Juvenile and their ilk made laconic jock jams the music’s dominant market force near the end the ’90s, giving swaggering meatheads (of all hues) something to rattle their rearviews and uptight backpackers (of all hues) something silly to whine about. Georgia’s Bubba Sparxxx took a smarter tack, addressing Dixieland trailer park concerns with hip hop’s vocab, but still packed too much high-carb braggadocio for the Def Jux crowd.

Buck 65 is the first rapper I’ve heard with potential appeal to both camps, and I’m fascinated to see what any of these people have to say about him.

Buck’s pack-a-day, hash brown smoothie twang may be the most naïvely countrified voice to rock a mic since Lamar Alexander aborted his presidential campaign. Still, his creepy, slide-peppered tracks roll the experimental bones as hard as Jim White. When hip hop’s recent surge of high-concept intellectualism seems to be finding its limits (witness the D.O.A. Antipop/Shipp collaboration) and even the Beasties are floundering in regression, This Right Here Is Buck 65 may be the only new thing under hip hop’s scowling sun.

Buck treads lightly around his religious upbringing. His ambivalence, faced with the boredom and frustration of adulthood, is clear, and yet “I’d rather read the Bible / Than use the pages to roll joints with.” Occasionally, he gets in some sort of character, as when he portrays a centaur explaining his nature, and his overwhelming sex drive.

Mostly, though, he sketches impressionistic depictions of life on the backroads, where one can lie in bed and watch David Lynch uninterrupted by sirens, and the loneliness can turn one into a Billy Bob Thorton creature. “I’m a lot like my father / He knows he should go to work / But sometimes he doesn’t bother / Reads books of every sort / Gets all the news he needs from the weather report.”

By Emerson Dameron

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