Friday, September 5, 2008

Buck 65 Vinyl Week, Day 1 - Stolen Bass

It's time for another "week" of posts (I put that in quotes, because I don't really stick to a proper calendar week when I do these), this time looking at of some the most interesting Buck 65 vinyl pieces out there. And where better to begin than at the beginning?

"Stolen Bass" (the title of this 7", but interestingly, not the name of either song on the single) was his first vinyl release, on Murderecords in 1994. It came in a picture cover (as you can see in the image to the upper left) with an insert detailing the production credits, etc. and in two versions: black or red vinyl. The combined photo shoot (front and back cover and both sides of the insert) form some kind of visual narrative where Buck (or Stinkin' Rich as he was known at the time) goes to a hotel with a bunch of music executives (I'm guessing) and shoots them all - possibly an homage to his label? You'll notice my copy is signed, as it came from Buck 65 himself... he also threw in an autographed picture and some stickers. :) Here's his own description of the record:

"[T]his is my first vinyl-only musical release. It's from 1994 and it's called Stolen Bass. It was released by a label called Murderecords which was/is run by a band called Sloan. It's rare as hell. There never were many of these made in the first place and there never was a second pressing. I had recorded and sold a few little things before this sucker, but for all intents-and-purposes, this is my first proper record. The music on this record is rather silly. Let's just say I've come a long way. But it's scrappy. It's got oomph. Lo-fi oomph. It's dusty. It's 14 years old. I was around 20 when I recorded these songs (on a 4-track). I was living in a log cabin at the time and hadn't yet developed my fine taste in films. So having no girlfriend, I was watching lots of shlocky movies over and over again. This sort of life has a way of rotting one's brains. But all criticisms aside, this is an important piece of my 'story.' Now I've written close to 1,000,000 songs, but this is where it all began."

I usually find myself disagreeing with artists' takes on their own work, but in this case I think he's right on the money. Like most (but certainly not all) of his music, these two songs are all him: the vocals, production, writing and the scratching (they're credited in the notes to DJ Critical, another of his aliases). The A-side is "Who You Frontin' For," which uses simple but catchy battle rhymes over a very 90's-style track that still has the power to instantly draw you in:

"Stinkin' Rich is X-rated,
Complex, ill-fated;
But I still made it.
I concentrated
On phat rhymes;
It's not a past-time.
Now at last I'm
Gettin' two thumbs up.
If a challenge comes up,
It's goin' down.
Now this is how flowin' sounds,
'Cause I'm the only pro in town.
I'm lookin' for a chump for me to rob;
But I don't need a job;
I'm deadly like Marquis de Sade.
So don't bite or jock,
Don't even try to talk.
If I decide to rock,
You'll end up on the sidewalk
With a lot of chalk
Traced around your carcass.
You'll be slipping into darkness
When I reach way back
And smash
You in your teeth with more weight, then
You'll be picking up the pieces
Like The Average White Band.
I got a flight plan
For any sucker who be wantin' more;
You ain't got a chance in Hell...
So who you frontin' for?"

The b-side is "Chin Music." The beat is a little less effective, but when he starts cutting in the horn sample (plus a nice little "7th Chamber" vocal courtesy of Inspectah Deck), it's all redeemed. His delivery is a lot more playful, changing his style line-by-line, like a laid-back Fu-Schnicken. It's interesting, and the rhymes are fun; but I'm glad it's an experiment he concluded by the end of this song.

Only the most extreme purists would call this 7" his best work, but it's definitely a stellar example of the indie hip-hop movement of the mid-90's. Pick it up if you can find it.

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1 comment:

  1. Great to see cool discussion on this single, was a fave with friends and I when it came out. Got a lot of play!

    His second cassette did too. So much to the point where the text was worn from the cassette