BUCK 65 - Interview

Courtrai is maybe the smallest town to welcome Buck 65 AKA Johnny Rockwell AKA Uncle Climax AKA Stinkin' Rich AKA DJ Critical AKA half of the Sebutones. Still you can see he is really enthusiastic about being here in Europe and show his work to the audience...

About grabbing the mic and acting...

In my every day life, I'm a very shy person but I don't know what it is as soon as I grab the microphone, it's like a wig or a pair of sunglasses, I instantly become transformed into this other character that allows me to get up on stage, act silly, dance, you know all those things...I guess it comes with experience cause I've been doing it for a pretty long time now. But it's a fair thing to say that the microphone acts as a fictional device. (...) In a lot of ways MCing is the exact same thing as acting, it's just not on the screen. When I was a child, I would always listen to music closing my eyes. The best music for me was when I could visualize things and could see inside my mind the story that would go along with the music. I think that when music is at its best then it can be a very visual thing. I try to make an effort to be as visual as I can. I try to create a world and make as much detail in that world as I can, not necessarily by using many words. Sometimes an effective use of metaphor is the very best means to allow someone to visualize something.

About isolation, creation and transmission...

Before the age of 18, I grew up in a very small town in the country, with a few hundred people, then I moved to a slightly larger city, Halifax, which is not that big and other larger cities (Boston and Montreal) are still very far away from Halifax. I'm actually grateful for that because when I started making music there weren't many people around who were making hiphop so I wasn't coming under the influence of anybody else. I also spent my chilhood pretty much in isolation and I'm still very attached to that period of my life. I talk about it a lot. I'm definitely a loner. (...) Some people would argue that there are negative aspects to being reclusive but it allows me to maintain my own headspace and just stay locked into this world of mine. When I'm in the process of making an album, I can be a very difficult person to talk to because I'm just lost in some other place. For me isolation is beneficial, it's the only world I know, I suppose.

(a short conversation about child songs and a few other things we didn't understand during the show)

Usually I don't like to be esoteric. I don't like to be strange just for the sake of being strange. What I found over time is that if I'm very personal about myself, even if people don't know exactly what I'm talking about, on some level, a lot of people can get some sort of emotional thing out of that.(...) I try to make things -metaphors...- fairly clear. Tonight I did a song about shining shoes, when the chorus of the song comes along, it's in the first person and this person who shines shoes at a train station is telling people that you have to take pride in your work and if you don't and just try to do it fast then your customers won't come back to you a second time. There's an obvious metaphor in there...a lot of rappers just try to rap as fast as they can or DJs try to scratch as fast as they can and that gets right over the audience's heads and they can't get anything meaningful or emotional from it. So I find that if you just try to craft what you're doing with a lot of care and if you just care about you work and about the people who might listen to your music then maybe they'll care about your music and listen to your album more than once...More and more as time goes on these are the things that I'm thinking about. When I was younger I just tried to be very general with what I was talking about but then I would go back and listen to my albums when they're finished and I would think to myself "I haven't said anything really meaningful in this entire album". I don't want to do that, there's too much of that in hiphop nowadays. I hope that people can get something meaningful out of the substance of my words, even if they're not directional. That just depends on me being a good writer. If I'm a good writer it'll work, if I'm a bad writer it doesn't work so I just have to keep working hard.

About reading and literary influences...

I read a lot and usually more than one book that I'm reading at the time. (a small conversation about the book he's reading at the time: The Master and Margarita by Russian author Mikhail Bulgakov). I read lots of poetry Rilke, E.E. Cummings, Charles Bukowski, I also like William Burroughs. I watch lots and lots of films, which are a very big influence for me. (...) The stuff that I use can really come from anywhere. Sometimes I'll find a children's record with a nursery rhyme that is obsolete. Sometimes it'll be something that comes from a movie. Something I can find something poetic in something that isn't intended as poetry in the first place. But in my recent works, i've borrowed from William Burroughs more than once, Anais Nin. I'm always interested in discovering a good writer, even songwriters such as Tom Waits or Simon and Garfunkel or Brian Ferry...

Writer rapper...

There's not a lot poets out there who are getting rich by writing poetry books. This is what I really love about hiphop still: someone like me can take his poetry, apply it to music and then bring it to a mass of people. In a way, hiphop is the last safe haven for poetry. It's keeping it alive in the world. (...) I've done lots of writing that I'd like to see published some day. I hope that if I start a good following with my music then that will provide me with good other opportunities to do other projects including writing books, maybe screenplays. But writing books is definitely something that I hope I'll be able to do soon. Not just one book but many and all sorts of different books, memoirs, fiction, poetry, anything really.

Future...

Things have been starting to go well for me in the last year in particular. I've been developping a little bit of a celebrity fan base -Radiohead, Vincent Gallo (and he doesn't like anything!!), Aphex Twin (he doesn't like anything either), Melissa Auf Der Maur (Hole, Smashing Pumpkins). There are some things in development that indicate that 2002 will be a big year for me. It looks like I'll be doing what I do on a bigger scale.

The tour...

A part of the reasons why I'm on tour right now is I'm trying to make new connections and develop a scene for myself in Europe. It's very important for me since the European scene seems to be slightly more sophisticated than in America. In August it looks like I may come to Paris to live for a while.

(a short conversation about all the writers who came to Paris to get some inspiration)

This is my first time here and hopefully not the last so that I can continue to build on it and make it bigger and bigger. I'm at a stage of my life when I figure that if i want to be successful and get the basic necessities that I want to get out of life, put a roof over my head and be able to have children then now is the time for me to go after it as hard as I possibly can...

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