It is three weeks into 2008, but Rich Terfry, (internationally known as Buck 65) has the year 1957 on his mind.
“That year is so significant. It was the beginning of the end of the good and the bad. It changed the way we think and the nature of the world that we are living in,” Buck said.
The Juno Award winner’s fascination with that year and what surrounds it fueled his latest album, Situation.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a record solely about that year, but things that happened in that year did inspire the record,” the rapper explained. “When you pull all the songs together it forms a bigger, larger picture. I really got intrigued with this idea of Situationism.”
Situationism is the avant-garde political movement that rose from Dadaism in, you guessed it, 1957. It suggests that the morality of an act and specific behaviour depends on and is a response to an immediate situation. Voila! Buck 65’s album’s title Situation.
“I also like the word for superficial reasons,” Buck admitted. “Just as a word and how it looks on a page. I’m very into those one word titles.”
Situation is album number 11 for the Nova Scotian. The (almost) conceptual album is packed with Buck’s usual social consciousness, laced with musical styles of the past. Rich Terfry is like the Tom Waits of hip-hop in this situation. Buck’s lyrical abilities and rhymes are as sure and strong as ever.
“I don’t get fully stumped very often. I’m really stubborn when it comes to that,” Terfry commented on the art of rhyming. “There have been cases when I have sat all day long, hours and hours trying to come up with that rhyme.” Situation is the rapper’s raw return reminding us that Buck knows how to bust a rhyme. “When a challenge like rhyming presents itself, I refuse to back down. I don’t take no for an answer when it comes to rhymes.”
Rhyme Time: Buck’s Tips
Annunciate as clearly as possible so that your words are heard and made out well. That has always been extremely important to me.
Layers and Complexities:
I’ve always made it a rule that I can’t be satisfied with rhyming just one syllable. For example cat and bat. If the line I’m writing ended with black cat then I would have to rhyme both those syllables with something like cracked bat. It just adds an extra layer of complexity. It makes it all that much more challenging. When you add layers, other elements of rhythm automatically fall into place.
It’s interesting for me to take tips from other sorts of musicians whose relationship with tempo is more interesting. One of the biggest influences on my personal approach to rapping is Billie Holiday. She would always be kind of off the beat and a little behind it. That adds a little bit of swing and funk. I think it’s sophisticated to follow the beat but dance around it a little. I like taking a creative approach to following a beat.
Find your influences and people who have set the bar, but then use them as an example and then diversify. It’s important to stick out with your own style and approach. Use influences as a doorway to find your own voice. You can always tell who someone’s biggest influence is. They sound like someone imitating Eminem or Jay Z. You’ve got to mix it up a little – ultimately in the effort of finding your own voice.
Hone your craft and your mechanical approach to rapping. What is going to set you apart is your own mind and what makes you interesting as a person. Hone your mind. I haven’t just taken inspiration from the world of hip-hop. I read a lot. I watch a lot of films. I pay attention to what’s going on in the world and within myself.