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Buck 65: Secret House Against the World

Buck 65: Secret House Against the World

Release Date:2005

By Seb Roberts | Posted 8/17/2005

Flaunting convention is less a gimmick than a way of life for Buck 65. The Canadian MC (born Richard Terfry) eschews the bling-and-boast battle mentality, preferring to spin yarns about underdog shoeshiners and porn-star centaurs. His beats have crossed Native Tongue funk with big-sky country and Tin Pan Alley cabaret. It makes sense that Buck would eventually follow luminaries Andre 3000 and Mos Def by more or less abandoning hip-hop altogether.

Secret House Against the World is better judged alongside genre abusers such as Beck and Basement Jaxx than Kanye West. Terfry adopts and discards more personas over 45 minutes than David Bowie has in two decades. The chamber-rock march of “Devil’s Eyes” sounds like a Johnny Cash android fronting the Arcade Fire. Lead single “Kennedy Killed the Hat” is either the bastard son of Stereolab and the Fall, or a better LCD Soundsystem song than James Murphy ever wrote. The manic musical mutation is only exaggerated by the stable of collaborators. Tortoise pulls the propulsive “Le 65isme” out from under Buck’s avalanche of angry non sequiturs, and a couple of French gamines provide suitably sultry call-and-response vocals throughout.

Terfry doesn’t completely ditch his dusty vagabond persona. On “Rough House Blues” and “Blood of a Young Wolf,” he waxes world-weary over pedal-steel whine and Kentucky-fried funk. But he sounds like he has talked himself out of his honky blues. Secret House documents an incredibly ambitious, if uneven, transformation from MC to musician, only hinting at what lies ahead.

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