Home Read Albums Of The Week: Buck 65 | Punk Rock B-Boy

Albums Of The Week: Buck 65 | Punk Rock B-Boy

The veteran rapper and beatmaster kicks it old-school (as usual) on his latest album.

Some guys never change. Canadian hip-hop hero Buck 65 is one of them. Thankfully. The veteran rapper and beatmaker’s new album Punk Rock B-Boy — his latest in a series of stellar indie releases — is another throwback release straight from the old school: Funky grooves, obscure samples, wicky-wack scratching, skits and, of course, Buck’s razor-sharp rhymes, brilliant wordplay and wickedly weird wit (at one one point he rhymes Rico Suave with microwave — by pronouncing it mee-cro-wah-vay!). Basically, it’s the next best thing to a new album from De La Soul or Beastie Boys. If you lost track of Bucky after he went indie a while back, now the time to get back in touch. To help you fully appreciate Punk Rock B-Boy, here’s a long-ass, insanely detailed track-by-track essary for you, penned by Buck (aka Rich Terfry) and posted on his Substack.


THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Punk Rock B-Boy drops today! Here’s a track-by-track breakdown for you.

Needle Drops is an intro track. It’s short. Two parts. The second part was inspired by stories I’ve heard and read about Grand Wizzard Theodore. They say he was a master of extending drums breaks on records by doing ‘needle drops’. Instead of backspinning a record, he would pick up the needle and drop it again at the precise point where the break begins. To do this, he had to have almost super-human eyesight and steadiness of hand. I’ve seen guys do it on one turntable and that’s what I wanted to do for this intro. To make it a little easier, I looked for a funky 45 with a tempo of 90 bpm – I figured that would leave some margin for error. So the beat you hear wasn’t made with a sampler or software of any kind. It’s just a recording of me picking up the needle and dropping it. After recording that, I added overdubs of other samples and clips. I like when things sound a bit dirty, so I’m happy with the result.

Punk Rock B-Boy: This is the first song I wrote for the album. I wrote the lyrics in a boarding area while waiting for a flight in Chicago a few weeks ago. The beat changes near the end. The break that comes in is my all-time No. 1 favourite. Don’t know why I didn’t use it before now. Over that beat, my flow gets very fast. In case it’s hard to make out, here’s what I say: ‘Burning ‘em. Fires that flicker and feeding ‘em. Freedom from the ticking clock. Talkative. Making them sicker. Vomitive. Cracking skulls. Picking locks. Apocalypse. Painting a picture. It’s typical. Hold my breath and lick a shot. Negative. Contradictor. Critical. You don’t want none, chicken hawk.’ It’s not saying much but it sounds good. I just wanted to make a classic-sounding hip hop beat for this one. I love how it turned out. I think it’s one of my favorite beats I’ve ever made.

Morgana: This is one built on a classic break. All the extra touches are nods to classic hip-hop songs that also sampled that same break. The scratches you hear during the verses were done by Skratch Bastid. I was looking for something very specific and I knew he could nail it better than I could myself. He did it perfectly. We had a good hang the day he did it. The first thing I say on this song is “bald-headed Jesus”, which is an expression my mother used to use. So weird. I’d love to know what the origin of that is.

Sure Shockin’: One of the inspirations for this album was the book Yes Yes Y’all by Jim Fricke. This song is a nods to the stories in that book. I wanted to evoke the spirit of early hip-hop on this one. I love the beat. It has a classic b-boy feel to it. The bassline was sampled from such an unlikely source. I spent a lot of time on the ‘four ways to rock’ breakdown part.

Front Now is sort of a nod to the B-Boy Records label (they put out the first Boogie Down Productions album). They had a very specific production aesthetic which I love very much. I wish there was more material. Their heyday only lasted two years. I love the outro for this song. It’s another piece that I spent a lot of time on. It’s a little tribute to hip-hop history, I guess you could say. I’m happy with how it turned out. Gets me hyped.

Drumlord: This is one of the songs that I recorded for Super Dope earlier this year. I’m an impatient person, so it was hard sitting on material for so long. In the lyrics, I give a shout out to Edan and pretty much beg him to record another album. I wonder if he ever will. What’s the hold-up? What’s going on with him? I know he’s doing a lot of DJing. I need 100 Edan albums in my life.

Masters Of The World: This album is a bit darker than the previous few. This song is where things get dark. It’s not that I’ve been feeling particularly dark, necessarily. It started with the beat. I found the strings sample and loved it. As I started building, it just got scarier and scarier sounding. So I figured I should write some scary verses to match. Mostly I’m just rappy-rapping but there are some references to ‘the end of times’ and whatnot. It has been feeling a bit that way lately, hasn’t it? I also mentioned that I was inspired by the Ultramagnetic MCs album Funk Your Head Up. This one features some of that Ultra-style production. Toward the end, the beat changes slightly. The drum break that comes in is so, so tough. It was sampled from the cheesiest record ever. There’s a little rhyme experiment I try out on this one. I rhyme words with different amounts of syllables. For example, I rhyme Michael Jackso with motorcycle accident. I doesn’t work but it does. I love how off-kilter it sounds.

Digger’s Song: This is another one left over from Super Dope. The idea for it is one that I’ve had in my back pocket for a long time. I had been meaning to do it for years. I love songs about record digging. The Beatnuts used to talk about digging. People Under The Stairs. It’s just so purely hip-hop. I suppose it’s a bit self-indulgent but that’s okay. Its for my digger-friends.

Blood And Guts: For this one, I wanted to go for an early-’90s sound and quite frankly, I think I nailed it. This one was a bit of a sleeper. When I made the beat, I didn’t necessarily think it was anything too special but it turned out to be one of the best songs on the album, if not THE best. I might go so far as to say that this might be one of my best songs ever. I love the way my flow came together and this one has such a strong vibe. Maybe it would have been a hit in 1991!

Crazy Def: Yet another one left over from Super Dope. This one is built on another of my all-time favorite drum breaks. I think I heard once that the drummer was 12 years old or something like that. The sound is so bizarre. It sounds sounds like the drums are breathing! I love it. This one is my tribute to the founding father, Kool Herc and the earliest days of hip-hop culture in the Bronx. I’m quite proud of rhyming “componentry” “potpourri” and “poetry”. This is just some deep, deep hip-hop shit here.

Twitter Chatter: Before I started work on this album in earnest, I listened to the first two De La Soul albums and thought to myself, ‘I should do skits!’ I’ve never really done skits. At first, I thought I’d pepper the album with four or five skits. I have ideas for a bunch. But in the end, I could only make this one fit. It’s sort of a riff on the super-gross hip hop discourse on Twitter. This piece is what I imagine that kind of discussion would sound like if it happened in real life rather than online. It’s absurd.

Soap For Momoa: You may recognize elements of this from the original demo for the Us vs. Them song I posted back in the summer. It’s cannibalism! It was a bit hard to find the right flow for this one. I had to scrap a few verses before I landed on something I was happy with. I love all the little production / turntable details.

Don’t Ever Come Back: ANOTHER leftover from Super Dope. And another dark one. Once again, it started with the beat. The original song I sampled isn’t in 4/4 time, so I had to do some pretty crafty chopping. I chop samples more than most people probably realize. Thing is, I don’t want stuff to sound like it’s chopped. I’ve never been big on that sound. I think I learned that from Jel — how to chop and maintain an organic feel. The vocal sample in the chorus sings about Satan, so I figured I had to write something heavy. I suppose mostly I’m talking about the things that infuriate me about the city I live in. I don’t walk around in a rage all the time but we all have moments when things piss us off, right?

Scuzzy: Oh, man. This is another contender for my favourite on the album. I love this song. The beat is so nasty. Shout out to my friend Jared in New Jersey for turning me onto the record with the main sample. At the end of this song, there’s a part where I cut up a phrase from the song Here Come The Lords by Lords Of The Underground. “Let me show you something!” Holy crap. I almost lost my mind trying to nail that. I don’t have the 12” single for Here Come The Lords, so I had to use the LP. My copy of the LP has a slight dish-warp to it. And Here Come The Lords is the first song on the album. So it was almost impossible to cut the phrase up without the record skipping. I probably had to make 500 passes at it before I got it. I had a very specific idea in my head and I wasn’t willing to deviate from it. So I just kept trying and pulling my hair out until I got it. I’m glad I stuck with it because I think it sounds dope. But I wish I had the foresight to track down a copy of the 12” weeks ago. It would have made life so much easier. Agonizing work. Very good result. I friggin’ love this song.

Shiny: Another Super Dope leftover. This was the last thing I recorded for the album. I recorded the little hook-thing on Monday (four days ago)! This one has some of the most clever lines on the entire album, if I say so myself. The middle part of the song is a nod to Grand Verbalizer, What Time Is It? by X Clan, which is one of my all-time favorite hip-hop songs. I re-created the beat using different records than the ones X Clan used. Kinda crazy how similar it sounds.

Nothing To It: This is me grinding an axe a little bit. Everyone has an opinion on what great rapping is, what technical rapping is. The style I use on this little piece is pretty common these days and in my opinion — as the title says — there’s nothing to it. It kinda sounds tricky but it’s really simple. With the exception of cases like this where I’m trying to make a point, I never go the easy route. I labour over ever line — sometimes to an absurd degree. You can rest assured that a LOT of thought has gone into every line I write. That’s the way it has to be for me. It’s why I’ve never been much of a freestyle guy. I like to put thought into things. Perhaps ironically, that brings me to…

Sugar Nuts: The silliest song on the album. This is one of the silliest things I’ve ever done, period. Those who know me well know that I have a sweet tooth. People give me a hard time about it. I’m 50 and sometimes I eat like I’m 10. I was out riding my bike a few months ago and the idea for a chorus that just goes “Sugar! Sugar! Sugar! Sugar!” Popped into my head. I wrote it down and mused a little on the idea of making a song that kinda sounds like a sugar rush. As the idea evolved, it started taking shape as something of a sequel to The Food Song from the Square album. Dessert! So I wrote a couple of verses about all the sweet stuff I want to eat all the time. Now, trust me — my diet isn’t as bad as it sounds. I try to eat healthy but I do still love a nice cookie or a slice of pie. As for the beat… this is another one inspired by the Funk Your Head Up album. I love this beat. Back in the spring, I went on a digging trip to Detroit. When I walked into Hello Records, they were playing the record I sampled for the hook of this song. It’s an awesomely weird kids’ record. Pretty rare. I asked if they were selling it and they said yes. I think I had to pay $50 for it. Something like that. I knew the second I heard it that I was going to make a beat out of it. I predict that someday I’ll get a call from someone saying they want to use this song for a TV show or a movie and I’ll have to turn them down because of the inevitable sample-clearance issues.

Manny Ramirez: This shit is hard. HARD! I had to match the hardness of the beat with some hard-ass rapping. This might be the best rapping on the album. I like the rapping on Blood And Guts, which is mostly about flow. On this one, I’m not locked into a flow. It’s free-form. But I like the freedom that free-form affords me. I can get real technical with the multi-syllable rhymes and whatnot. I feel it’s how I can hit ‘em hardest. I also really like the little composition at the end of this song. It’s another part that I worked really hard on. The energy of it is bonkers. More raw-ass hip hop shit. Inject it into my veins.

Terminal Illness: The last song on the album. This one is a return to a style I messed with a bit in the late ’90s — especially on songs like 15 Minutes To Live. I was inspired to go there by the recent work that Wu-Tang affiliate Killah Priest has been doing. Have you been following that stuff? It’s awesome. His album Forest Of The Happy Ever After is one of my favourites of 2023. Another hip-hop love letter.”