- 19 Sep 03
The comparisons with Beck and DJ Shadow are understandable, yet this is a talent that looks set to outstrip them all.
Those who continue to make a mint from churning out the same old shit might disagree, but hip hop is in dire need of a saviour right now. While we continue to scan the mainstream horizon for their appearance,the answer might just come from the unlikely setting of Nova Scotia. Talkin’ Honky Blues is bound to attract such platitudes but in reality Buck 65 (aka Rich Terfry) has as much in common with 50 Cent, Xibit et al as Colin Farrell does with Robert De Niro. He speaks his words rather than sings them to be sure, and - along with collaborators Graematter, T.O.A.B. La Rone and band the Savant Guard – has created a musical landscape that is fresh and often funky, but Talkin’ Honky Blues is one of those rare albums that seems to come completely out of nowhere. Quite simply it offers a surprise at every turn and sounds nothing like anything or anybody else around. Written in Paris but steeped in the culture of North America, Buck’s lyrics are unique in terms of any musical genre, let alone rap. His is a world of road trips with “a little Johnny Cash on the old tape deck”, of dried-up river beds and weird characters, the voice-over to some obscure independent movie. It could be gothic folk music if tracks like ‘Wicked & Weird’ (the Kings of Leon meets the Avalanches) and ‘Protest’ weren’t so damned danceable. The comparisons with Beck and DJ Shadow are understandable, yet this is a talent that looks set to outstrip them all. A journey through his own personal history and psyche, the record is at turns funny, angry and often quite dark. It does prove, however, that it is possible for a rapper to focus on himself without sounding like an unmitigated wanker. Only once does Buck 65 turn his attention to the outside world, with a few final chosen words of wisdom for his fellow artists. “Unless you take pride in what you’re doing you won’t last”, he lectures, “craftsmanship is a quality that some lack, you’ve got to give people a reason for them to come back”. Judging by this incredible record, the rest of the world better start listening.