Home Read Albums Of The Week: Buck 65 | Super Dope

Albums Of The Week: Buck 65 | Super Dope

The veteran Canadian rapper plays by his own rules on his latest independent outing — and drops a wildly creative old-school affair reminiscent of vintage Beastie Boys.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Alright, y’all. Things are happening. Let’s get right to it,” says Canadian hip-hop veteran Buck 65. “Having found my place and loving how it feels, I’m now making music with 100% confidence and clarity. My new album Super Dope is the next step. Time will decide how it stacks up against King Of Drums. It’s certainly a logical continuation. As I was making King Of Drums, I recognized a few things to improve upon and refine and I feel as though I did that with Super Dope.

“King Of Drums was made with no budget. Same deal with Super Dope. I used the exact same recording setup, which is crappy. A few months ago, I showed my old homie Sixtoo the setup and he laughed in my face. It’s ramshackle. All of my gear is cheap. The only thing I added since King Of Drums is a little portable tape deck from the ’80s that I used to record a few things.

“If I could go back and change anything about King Of Drums, it would be a few things in the mix. This time around, I tried to find a better way to mix but I had no luck. If I had money, I’d buy studio time, for sure. To try to avoid any mix mistakes on Super Dope, I went old school. I did a rough mix in my living room (which has terrible acoustics) then I listened to a bounce of that mix in the car. I sat there with a notepad and pen and took notes as I listened. I’d write something like: ‘Vocal needs to come down a tick in Passport To Infinity’ or ‘The main drum break in A Gift From The Sky needs more high end.’ Then I’d go back into the house, make adjustments and repeat. To get to a final mix that I was happy with, I had to run out to the car about a dozen times. It was sort of insane but the car provides the best listening environment I have access to. For what it is, I’m happy with the final result.

“One thing I love about King Of Drums is that it just keeps coming at you relentlessly. I tried to take that energy up a notch with Super Dope. There’s constant movement. There are a million ideas per minute. I reckon you’ll need to listen at least a few times to process everything. The beats are 100% sample-based. There are no live instruments. No midi instruments either.

“I took my turntable work up a notch too. I practise a lot these days and when you practise, you get better. Same deal with the rapping. I’ve done a lot of rapping over the last few years and I’ve learned some things. I’m a better technical rapper now than I was when I was 25 years old — by a long shot. And I think I know how to get an idea across more effectively and more efficiently.

“Well, it so happens that the release of the album falls almost EXACTLY 30 years after my very first release. A few days ago, I checked in with my A-1 from Day 1, Jorun Bombay, to verify. Although both of us had been recording and performing for some years at that point, our first release — as Haltown Projex — came out in May of 1993. I’m referring to the legendary Haltown Meltdown cassette. 30 years ago! So Super Dope is a nice way to mark and celebrate the anniversary. And this year, we’re celebrating 50 years of hip hop, which is a big deal. Super Dope is my love letter to the culture.”