"Almost-legendary" rapper Buck 65 has dropped recently not one, but two new records. The first is unquestionably his most personal to date while the second is a fun back-to-basics return to form. Before embarking on a cross-Canada tour that will take him to the NAC for a concert, part of the NAC Presents series, Rich Terfry takes a few minutes to answer to some of our questions.
Q: Hi Buck 65, you're now back on the road touring, where in the world are you?
A: I'm in Paris right now!
Q: Havin' fun?
A: I'm having a lot of fun. But I'm feeling a lot of emotions here. I have a lot of history in this city. There have been some sad moments too. The theme here in Paris has been art and ghosts.
Q: Your latest albums all seem driven by one strong main concept, take for example the duets on 20 odd years, the back-to-basic-ness of Situation and your take on beat poetry of Secret House Against the World, now you seem to be at the stage of your career that you are so prolific that you need not one, but two album with a strong concept. Are you prolific much, Buck?
A: I do keep busy. I've released a lot of music this year. I've also written a book which will be out next year. And I have a few other projects I'm working on finishing off too. Themes help focus the work sometimes. But it can be fun to go willy-nilly too.
Q: Why choosing one main strong concept for each album? Is it a way for you to focus your energy on one thing?
A:Strong themes for strong times, I guess. I went through a divorce and wrote about it. It would have been hard not to. Then I wanted to lighten things up with Laundromat Boogie. But my friend Jo gets the credit for coming up with the theme on that one. He's a very theme-oriented guy. Most of his work has a theme. I also get a bit obsessive with ideas and sometimes I feel I can't say it all in one song.
Q: Tell us about Neverlove, which documents the end of your relationship. You've been very keen on talking about the dynamics of this divorce. Why not simply say: "Listen to it, the music speaks for itself".
A: I could have done that. A lot of musicians use that line. But it feels like a bit of a cop out to me. If you put something out there - especially if it's a heavy subject - you have to expect a dialogue and I think it's important to participate. Also, it's part of the process for me. Talking everything over with people has been helping me figure things out and move on. I'm still dealing with the divorce. It took a lot out of me. I started writing because I was having a hard time finding good help. I had to sort through a lot of it on my own.
Q: You will be embarking on a Canadian tour in the next few days. Aren't you afraid to revisit such difficult moments on stage?
A: It is a bit daunting. There are certain songs on the album I may have to make a point of not performing. I think it would be too much for everyone involved. But I go into a bit of a different zone when I'm performing. I can focus on delivering the song well. I can work more with my brain than my heart. That helps. But usually I end up getting lost in what I'm doing and almost forget there's an audience there. That helps too.
Q: On the other hand, you released Laundromat Boogie a completely different project entirely produced by Jorun Bombay (music producer located in halifax) on the SAME day as Neverlove. Why?
A: Balance. I wanted to offer up something lighter and with a different look. It's not heavy at all and it's something I figured my harder-core audience would like. It's very much a straight-up hip hop record. I love it!
Q: Tell us about the Laudromat Boogie. It sure makes us want to do laundry. Which is, personally, one of the worst thing in life. But a necessary one.
A: Well, that's just it - the necessity of it. We all have to do it. It's a part of life. Everyone can relate to the idea of hanging out in a laundromat for an afternoon. The songs are all about very human things. And I kinda like doing laundry! I don't know why, but I've always enjoyed folding clothes.
Q: The mini-album got released on the SAME week as Neverlove. WHY?
A: I guess I was thinking I wanted to offer something to people who might hate Neverlove. Neverlove is certainly very different from anything I've done before - especially in terms of the production. It's a pretty slick album. There are still a lot of people who come to my shows who only want to hear the stuff I made 15 years ago. So in a way, Laundromat Boogie is for them. But it's for me too. I love Jo's production. I think he's a genius. For my money, he's the greatest hip hop producer in the world.
Q: On the road, do you have time to do laundry at all?
A: I travel very light! I usually only travel with three day's clothes. So I have sink-washed laundry drying in the bathroom of my hotel room now!
Q: The NAC Presents series is all about Canadian music and helping to promote our talents. What is your opinion on the state of Canadian music?
A: I don't know if Canadian music has ever been stronger than it is now. There's so much great stuff being made right now. The amount of talent is mind-boggling. And I think Canada is getting better at producing 'rock stars'. I think people on the outside have seen Canadian musicians as talented, but boring. I think that's changing.
Q: We know that you are a HUGE fan of baseball -- congrats on your recent throw at Wrigley Field, by the way -- and we know that you could've become a professional player at some point. Aside from baseball, what is your second favourite sport?
A: Hmm... Well, anything else would be a distant second. I'm all about baseball. But I did play basketball in high school and through my university years. I still shoot around once in a while. But my knees are wrecked. I liked hockey when I was a kid, but I was watching the game during which Borje Salming had his face split open and it scared the crap out of me. I never played again.
Q: Anything we need to know about you before seeing you in concert this month?
A: I've put together a very special show for this tour. And by the time I get to Ottawa, it should be a very well-oiled machine. There's something for everyone, I think. Prepare to be dazzled! I also bought a very sharp suit for this tour. It's a pretty sexy show
Thanks Buck, see you on November 22nd!
NAC Presents, in partnership with BMO Financial Group shines a spotlight on Canada’s music icons and the stars of tomorrow. The National Arts Centre is grateful to The Slaight Family Foundation for their support of emerging artists who perform as part of this series.