By the end of the 90's, Buck 65 was a central radio DJ, rapper and producer in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He was also a White man, a Canadian, and he had grown by the countryside. As a result, he was everything but your typical MC. No big surprise, then, if Vertex proved to be quite unusual as well. Previously available on a cassette, and later on as a CD, this album was atypical. Actually, it fulfilled the promise to revolutionize hip-hop, made around the same time by Anticon - a label Buck 65 would become affiliated with. This rapper, though, would achieve this goal while using the genre's usual ingredients: raps, scratches, samples and loops.
Buck 65, a.k.a. Stinkin' Rich, a.k.a. DJ Critical, has been at the very center of the Halifax rap scene since the early 90's. With Witchdoc Jorun, he managed to unite the rappers of the capital city of Nova Scotia. With his radio program on CKDU, he helped fashioning his city's approach to hip-hop. With some iconoclastic references, he helped it building its own rap identity, until, with the help of the Anticon label and the single "The Centaur", he extended his fame and network beyond Canada, and became a central character on the international indie scene.
Released in 2003, Talkin' Honky Blues was Buck 65's second album for Warner, and the first to really sound like a major label record. It was the first, also, to be thoroughly advertised. There, Buck 65 completed his evolution toward pop and rock sounds, and was marketed this way: as the rapper who had turned his back to the music of his youth, in favor of another genre he had felt in love with. The campaign had been so well organized that, until today, many still mention this album as the Canadian's very best. But this is false. It was, indeed, one of his weakest.
50/50 Where It Counts is a decisive record. It is a reference for the Halifax scene, for Canada's hip-hop in general, and for the late 90's indie rap. At this time, in 1998, both Sebutones were already central members of Nova Scotia's capital city rap scene. But afterwards, they notoriety would rise further, and their careers, though quite different, would be exemplary. Sixtoo and Buck 65, though, do not seem to agree with the praises addressed to their joint effort. The impact of this album, recorded in only two weeks, has seemed something astonishing to them.
Twenty years, no less. For twenty years, Buck 65 has released music, including twelve since Vertex and the beginning of some international recognition. Twenty years of hip-hop, but also twenty years of adventures in other genres like rock, folk or electronica. Twenty years of major releases and side project for fans only. Twenty years, and the ideal time for us to organize this long interview and to review together this rich career.
Assuredly, the people present at Buck 65's first concert in France, we organized six months ago in Paris, won't forget this strange one-man-show, during which the Canadian rapper declaimed rants and fantasies on pre-recorded sounds, with a bit of theatricality. Also, they surely remember the brand new beats he disclosed there, among a few reminiscences from Vertex and Man Overboard. These were exciting appetizers for his next album, his very first released by a major label.
Judging by his strange, slow rap, his foggy beats splitted in different parts and his true poetic skills, it was logical that Buck 65 became affiliated to Anticon. He is one of the few, though, along with his fellow Sixtoo and the crazy Dose One to convince Sole's label many oponents. And his album Vertex could be the best of the genre having been released. We managed to catch Buck after a very long and intense emails exchange with his promoter. It was worth doing so much effort.