By Falice Chin
It’s been half a year since Canada’s own Buck 65 started being spotted in bits and pieces across North American and international media as his album Talkin’ Honkin’ Blues was well-received by critics and listeners alike. While the record didn’t end up reaching platinum sales or winning wide recognition from mainstream culture, Buck 65 has progressed past the underground into a zone where fame and anonymity co-exist peacefully.
He is quite pleased with where his he currently stands.
"I’m not hoping to make a lot of money so it means me feel good that people like [my record]," he says. "My audience has really diversified–there’s a more equal number of guys and girls, even people my age or older. I used to just sing a track to a nerdy underground hip hop audience, so that has changed a lot too."
Besides promoting his record under Warner Brothers, Buck 65 tries to be involved in other projects. Most of these side projects receive no intervention from his record label whatsoever. Some accomplishments include a lyrical reinterpretation of David Lynch’s Eraserhead, a poetic entry in Toro Magazine and, more recently, a musical score for a documentary.
"The film is called Discordia and it is a documentary that the National Film Board is releasing about the student riots that took place at Concordia about the Israel-Palestine conflict," he explains. "It centers around issues of students on either side of the fence. I provided all the music and some of it is just instrumental. I enjoy the luxury of working on other things"
Through this active participation, Buck 65 is able to reach a wider scope of audience. In turn, he is starting to see his influence permeating into the lives of his fans.
"When I think about the influences of the last record, it’s basically reflective of many kinds of music," he says. "I don’t apply that to what I do as a contrived thing, everyone has their influences. I’m inspiring people to be more open-minded about music, and hip hop in particular. God knows that [mainstream hip hop] is really a narrow and shallow pool of sounds."
Buck 65 is known for going against the flow and he doesn’t mind finishing last in the race because he is always true to himself and his listeners.
"I think what I have going for me is the best plan," he explains. "I don’t mind staying off the radar because pop culture will choose people and spit them out quickly. It’s dangerous to get into the pop world because everyone is so fickle and nothing would last. I’ll have a good laugh later when I’m still making music while everyone has forgotten about Jay-Z and Eminem."
According to Buck 65, the lack of creativity in hip hop continues to hinder North American youth from becoming a culture with depth.
"I hate to say this, but people from other parts of the world are always more open-minded than people here," he admits. "The difference [in attendance] between my shows in France or Australia and here are 3,500 to 200. North America has a cult of ‘marketability,’ so you never see ugly artists with bad teeth or anyone over the age of 30 like I [am]."
As for the future, Buck 65 wants to continue "ploughing away" with his genuine journey to the betterment of hip hop.
"I listen to Leonard Cohen and I fall flat on my ass. I know I’ll never get there. I work hard, hard, hard to maybe get close one day."