The freeform mish-mash of sounds, scratches, samples, styles and lyrical themes is far too much of a mixed bag to have a wide appeal.
Somewhat curiously for a hip-hop album, the tenth long-player from 36-year-old Canadian rapper Richard Terfry – better known as Buck 65 – takes its title from, of all things, the Situationist International movement. Formed in 1957, the SI was a radical, Marxist-style group of artistic agitators whose stated aim was to create, em, situations.
The sleeve art features an image of William Burroughs, and the song ‘1957’ opens with the most famous nine words Allen Ginsberg ever wrote before hip-hopping off in a different direction: “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed/devoid of conviction/conflicted/annoyed...”
Ignoring the fact that Burroughs and Ginsberg had only marginal associations with SI, this all seems rather highbrow for hip-hop. Perhaps as a white rapper, Buck wants to boast of having brains rather than bling.
He scatters pop cultural references throughout these 16 tracks – mentioning the likes of Lou Reed, Bettie Page, Link Wray, Arthur Miller, Marilyn, Pat Boone, Che Guevara, Perry Como, etc. Otherwise, he’s constantly shifting lyrical perspectives and rapping about beatniks, hobos, pornography, sex toys and getting shaken down by the cops. Somewhat all over the place, there’s no real reason, but there’s an awful lot of rhyme.
But, hey, it’s not necessarily a bad album. Buck 65 seems like an interesting artist (he’s previously been described as the Tom Waits of rap), but perhaps he’s just a little too determined not to be pinned down here. The resulting freeform mish-mash of sounds, scratches, samples, styles and lyrical themes is far too much of a mixed bag to have a wide appeal. Still, it’ll be interesting to hear what he does next.
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