Buck 65 – Language Arts (1996-2002) (CD) (FLAC + 320 kbps)

Buck 65 (Richard Terfry) is a DJ/rapper from Nova Scotia who’s not just underground, but off the beaten path. Or, as he puts it: “Street credibility: zero. Dirt road credibility: up the yin yang.” But he became a legend in Halifax for his elemental beats, deft scratches, obscure dubs, and plain-spoken but brainy rap, and he impressed Warner Music Canada enough to not just sign him but release his six album back catalog. Five are installments in the Language Arts series. The other, Weirdo Magnet, collects older tapes going back to 1988. While his music is often inventive, it mostly serves to set up his words: he tells amazing stories, waxes philosophical, obsesses over his craft, and on occasion exposes himself with radical honesty — although I’d bet against his having been in the Sex Pistols, and the only incontrovertible detail of his centaur tale is that he for sure has a complex mind. And while he can easily conjure up his former childhood, he can also project profound maturity and age; in short, he gives you much to think about. For example, on Weirdo Magnet he has a piece where he spouts uncliched, unironic platitudes, like “the most expensive indulgence is hate/the most dangerous man is the liar.”

The first Language Arts album is the most underground, with lots of scratches and a long pastiche at the end. Vertex is best known for “Centaur,” about the trials of someone “built like a horse from the waist down,” but he also goes shopping for records, and announces, “the older I get, the more life starts to make sense, and the less I care.” Man Overboard is richer melodically and more diverse, assuming many voices, but none more immediate than his own as he mourns his late mother, who he never managed to take to Graceland, but whose pride motivated his music. Synesthesia (expanded in the 2002 reissue, and now listed as the Part 5 of Language Arts) is a darker, grumpier album, where he disavows the f-word and frowns on groupies and regrets that “you can’t chop wood with an axe made of words,” but it’s also his densest, most rhythmic work. In Square, he returns more to story telling: a heavy-handed man, “born with his heart on the outside,” afraid to touch his loved ones; a stigmatized girl from his home town; but it also features paeans to science and food, and admits that “sometimes dumb crimes blow my mind.” Talkin’ Honky Blues is even better, introducing a band replete with pedal steel for a richer sound that still serves primarily to set up the words of an older, more worn persona, “a road hog with an old dog,” who boasts “I run with the bulls and swim with the pool sharks.” So he came from nowhere, but he’s been around. He gets compared to DJ Shadow and Laurie Anderson, but he’s so original you never know what’s coming next. Major talent, but in his own words, “it’s possible that I can be huge, but I doubt it.”


01 Totem Pole
02 Pubic’s Tube
03 Loose Teeth
04 Frame And Fork
05 Grindstone Cowboy
06 Wax Lips
07 Eye Make-Up Excuses
08 Seventeen
09 Gauze
10 Bush Pilot
11 Obstacle Course
12 Beauty Is A Skill
13 ’86 Jetta
14 G.C. Luther
15 Sick Stew
16 Diesel Treatment


FLAC – Datafile  |  

320 kbps – Datafile  |  

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