A hip-hop curio whose delivery features as much talking and heaving as rapping per se, Buck 65 is a Canadian yarn-spinner given to down-home tales touched by subtle shades of torment and surrealism. Over a bed of marching-band drums and lilting lap-steel guitar, an earthy fishing song like "Talking Fishing Blues" turns weird with time, angling past a 100-pound catfish toward lines like "Late last night I had me a dream, I went out fishing in a whiskey stream / I baited my hook with some applejack, threw out a drink and brought a gallon back." It's a country-tinged vision invoked by a raspy voice that sounds old, wise, and unsurprisedqualities draped all over This Right Here Is Buck 65.
The song is also a Woody Guthrie cover, which isn't exactly standard-issue in the hip-hop underground that Buck 65 calls home. Neither are the comparisons to Tom Waits that he regularly elicits, for good reason: A terrific writer who loves words in the most unfanciful ways, Buck 65 surveys precious poetics with gruff suspicion, drafting moody tales behind shambling backdrops of rusty instruments left alone to cough and wheeze. In "B. SC.," he lazes in bed naked with his girlfriend and a VCR: "Color me see-through and tickle my favorite inch / Now turn off the ringer and thank god for David Lynch." Some of Buck 65's language sounds stilted and gangly, but his linessplit at syllables that open up like seamsshake out through their easygoing country manner.
The album's slower songs play like something akin to spoken-word, but faster tracks like "Wicked And Weird" bounce with all the hoedown energy of rustic hip-hoppers like Bubba Sparxxx. Deft at pulling both heartstrings and party tricks, Buck 65 has peers as an emotive rapper, but he's alone in giving hip-hop such a personal, puzzling spin.