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Interview: Q&A

Buck 65 talks philosophy, hip-hop roots, Square album & more

I got a chance to meet up with Richard “Buck 65” Terfry at one of his recent gigs to delve a bit deeper into his mind. When asked what he thought of the size of the crowd, his response sounded very understanding, “To be honest with you, I really didn’t know what to expect because there’s probably a lot of people still watching TV.” (The World Trade Center bombing occurred on the day of this show.)

But he was pleased with the crowd’s reaction:

My music is really the type that you can’t dance to, so I just try to make eye contact and make a connection with the person. I saw some people smile or laugh at some of my lyrics, and that let me know that people were paying attention. So that was good.

I then proceeded to ask him about a wide range of topics including the changes in hip-hop in the past 10 years, his next album, his latest music video, his involvement with Radiohead, his beat that Biz Markie claimed as his own, and plans for after the tour.

Q&A: Buck 65

HipHopCanada: What’s your philosophy in regard to the music you make?

Buck 65: The main thing, with everything I do, is to be myself. If people don’t get it, or criticize me for it, then that’s hardly anything for me to get upset about. So if I’m just doing my thing. I ain’t frontin’. I ain’t trying to pretend to be anything I’m not. I’m just good to go. Then generally people seem to respect that.

HipHopCanada: Having so much experience, how do you feel that the hip-hop world has changed since you first came onto the scene? And what kind of response did you get when you were a white boy doing this back in 1992?

Buck 65: Man, it has changed so, so much. My perception has also changed a lot. In the late eighties and early nineties it was a tough place to be, because the climate was a lot more political in hip-hop back then. Those were the days of Afrocentricity, political awareness in hip-hop, black power and all that stuff. That was tough, but I found that in the mid to late-nineties there was an independent, underground revolution in hip-hop music. And that busted the boundaries wide open. So the two things that I used to notice a lot before that I don’t even see people thinking twice about anymore are: your race and the fact that I’m from Canada. That used to be a really weird thing, but people don’t even seem to sweat that anymore.

HipHopCanada: When can we expect you to release your next album, Square?

Buck 65: I’m debating it. I’m torn because I want to put it out soon, but I’m also shopping it. I do have a lot of interest, so now I’m not really rushing it. Because if I decide to go ahead and sign some sort of deal, then that’s not something that you want to go ahead and rush into. You want to do that right. I was leaving for this tour and I wanted to have something with me to sell, so I just decided in a week to make a new record. So I got some material together and took a day to record it. The album is called Synistisia, it’s Language Arts Part 5. So it’s the follow-up to ‘Square’ but it’s out before ‘Square’. There’s a new little label in Halifax that’s just going to do hip-hop called Endemic. So they’re putting it out.

HipHopCanada: So you shot a video for “Pants On Fire”, is that your first video?

Buck 65: Nope. I have a side project/group called The Sebutones with my friend Sixtoo, who’s in Halifax. He’s originally from Truro, Nova Scotia. We did a video. We paid about $15 at most, to make it. It’s really super-low budget, but someone at Much Music liked it and they actually played that video quite a bit. The difference with ‘Pants on Fire’ is that I got a grant. We did it by the book. We went through a production company and hired a director who hired everybody for the video. So, it’s my first real video. It was a really cool experience and I’m looking forward to doing another one.

HipHopCanada: Were you surprised that “Pants On Fire” was nominated for a Much Music video award (for “Best Independent Video”)?

Buck 65: Well I was because it took a while for the video to catch on. We put the video together with funding from VideoFACT and that’s a body that comes from Much Music. So you would think that they would play the videos that they funded. But when it went into the meeting where they decide what they play, they didn’t think that they could categorize it, so they . . .

HipHopCanada: . . . put it on the shelf.

Buck 65: Yeah. The second time we submitted it, they just sort of picked it up for optional rotation. But then they just ended up playing it a lot because a couple of their VJ’s or programmers (at Much Music) really liked it. They got behind it. And then I also think that it got a lot of requests. So it started out slow, but eventually Much Music just started to really support the video. The bottom line is, and this is how I felt going into it, regardless of the song, it’s a really good video. I can take no credit for this, because it was all the director. I just figured that Much Music would play it because it is a good video. But what I learned, and you learn this about a lot of things in general, is that it’s not always about the quality. You’d like to think that whatever it is that you’re looking at, it’s evaluated on its quality. But, its . . .

HipHopCanada: . . . it’s a lot of politics . . .

Buck 65: . . . a LOT of politics.

HipHopCanada: Yeah. It must have been pretty rewarding when they started playing the video.

Buck 65: It felt good. And it was a cool, cheap thrill to learn what types of videos they were playing it with. Turns out, they were playing me with Radiohead a lot . . .

HipHopCanada: Oh really. I heard that you met them.

Buck 65: Yeah, yeah. [Nonchalantly] I’ve been hanging out with them a little bit.

HipHopCanada: That must be a pretty big thrill!

Buck 65: Yeah, it’s pretty cool.

HipHopCanada: So where can people pick up the next album? Where will it be distributed?

Buck 65: I’ll make it available on the internet. The label from Halifax, called Endemic, is putting it out. It will be distributed in Canada through No Distribution. So, by and large, it will be made available at your mom-and-pops hip-hop record stores.

HipHopCanada: Alright. Thank You.

Buck 65: No problem. I appreciate it.

Interview conducted by Troy Nielson for HipHopCanada

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