Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Buck 65 Vinyl Week, Day 3 - Wild Life

And we're back to Buck 65 Vinyl Week with Day 3's entry, the 1998* "Wild Life" 12" on Hand Solo Records. Here he credits himself as Buck 65 featuring Stinkin' Rich. If Buck was Kool Keith on "yesterday's" Sebutones' 12", he's a full-blown, blue flower growing Dr. Octagon on today's.

"Wild Life" is actually a trilogy of songs detailing his dreams about riding in the Tour de France. That's dreams in the "while sleeping" sense, not "aspirations" sense. This distinction becomes readily apparent early into the first listen, as the narrative is as fluidly bizarre as a trip through anyone's subconscious can be: "Everywhere, all around me, people they be just be talkin' all about the camp as if their bike is gonna rust if they don't begin to pedal; 'cause if the rain hits the metal, the parts that are wet'll corrode if the drops settle," it begins.

An atmospheric beat driven by a strong bass sample rolls on, with Buck smoothly narrating what he sees in what's practically one, giant (rhyming) run-on sentence: "I can't see the big and yellow dashes in the middle of the road because it's covered in ashes two inches deep, making for treacherous conditions, poor visibility and rising suspicions. I know I'm not in hell; I don't hear the sounds of P-funk[LOL]; but I'm trying to get my bicycle past a fallen tree trunk that's blocking the road off, barricade fashion. My legs are getting tired and some other guys are crashin' because of the ashes and there's a long way to go, still: I can't believe how dark it is. There's a whole lot of hills and sharp corners to navigate, and vampires in the distance - I can see the campfires."

He soon crosses the finish line, but that's only the end of part 1. A short keyboard loop, wailing horns and the same drum beat kicks off part 2. This is my favorite of the series... at least instrumentally. Lyrically, it's hard to really divide the three. It's worth noting that, while all three songs are off his album Weirdo Magnet (also Hand Solo Records, 1997) the more widely available rerelease from Warner Bros completely remixes the song. In fact, the whole album's pretty different... but really "Wildlife part 2" suffers the most. It's just not nearly as catchy - you really owe it to yourself to track down the original version if you're a fan of this trilogy.

Anyway, whichever version you're listening the lyrics are the same. As Buck crosses the finishline his bike disappears and, "something wasn't normal there; all the other campers were dressed up in formal wear; and everybody's angry, so I decide to form a story, keep a low profile, and try to find the dormitory. Thinking I was too late, I asked my roommate about the jackets and dress pants, and he said the best chance to stay out of trouble ain't a heavy task at all, 'be at the gym at nine for the first game of basketball. Otherwise, you could be collecting dead animals around the campsite by kerosene lamplight, just like those guys in tuxedos - it's a rip off. So whatever you do, just be in time for the tip off.' ...God in heaven, dead animals?"

The third instrumental is sort of a cross between the first and second, slow horns, a whining keyboard sample... the drums are different this time. The instrumentals for all three are featured on the flip.

And besides those, there's a short, untitled bonus track, which is exclusive to this 12". It's a similar instrumental to the other three, a slow bass loop, snare-y drums, and one or two other samples that fade in and out. This song is mostly a showcase of his DJing skills, which are considerable. It's fresh, and he does drop a nice, short freestyle rhyme at the end. He's back down to Earth.

All in all, this is a really great 12". What's more, I'm going to go out on a limb and say this is the best song (or series of songs) about a dream in hip-hop ever - it's certainly the most authentically dream-like. Don't sleep.

*His discography on buck65.com says 1997, but I daresay that's a mistake. It certainly says 1998 on my copy; and I'm pretty sure that's correct.


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