Buck 65: Canadian rap elite plays Starlight set

The prolific career of Buck 65 (Richard Telfry) has spanned two decades, though his 2011 album 20 Odd Years is arguably his most noteworthy musical achievement.

Telfry is adamant that the album signifies more than simply commercial success.

Speaking to The Cord prior to his Feb. 2 show at Waterloo’s Starlight Lounge, the rapper explained the significance of the album in his own eyes.

“I’ve been striving these last years to remove ego from what I’m doing as much as possible. I really try to be an ego-less person, try not to be too proud. I think if I was going to look at something as a measure of success, longevity [of my career] would have to be it.”

With the aim of creating a more melodic album with 20 Odd Years than those in his past repertoire, Buck 65 collaborated with fellow Canadian Gord Downie (of The Tragically Hip) on the song “Whispers of the Waves.”

As an artist, Telfrey focuses on authenticity, stating, “Authenticity is something I noticed most people will respond to, in one way or another, so I’ve tried to make that my guiding principle with everything I do.”

The lineation of Buck 65’s career has undeniably been organic and recognizing that commercial success does not carry all validation, Telfrey explained, “I knew that there were limits to what my audience was going to be, how many records I was likely to sell, how far my career could go. Recognizing that made me realistic and allowed me to avoid some pitfalls here and there where I can.”

The self-produced album Dirtbike (2008) was admittedly a selfish project, produced by Telfrey in the confines of his own home, using his own equipment.

The project the rapper labelled “The Dirtbike Project,” is comprised of seventy songs that are not, and never will be, for sale — signifying the importance of creating solely for pleasure, without an emphasis on the outcome in terms of wealth or fame.

As well as a long and fruitful career in music, Telfrey hosts a radio show on CBC Radio 2 called Radio 2 Drive, which generates between 500,000 and two million listeners daily.

Providing The Cord with an inside scoop, Telfry spoke of an additional project in the works; the rapper is in the process of documenting his experiences, travels and people he’s met with in the hopes of turning it into a novel. Though coy about the details, there is promise of a tumultuous tale, given the ups and downs of his career.

A self-proclaimed introvert, Telfrey admitted that being revered as an artist and celebrity is still a foreign concept — one that creates a feeling of vulnerability.

Despite the admission, when Telfrey dons his stage persona, there is no sign of the introvert he claims to be.

Last Thursday, Buck 65 took the Starlight stage, playing various songs from his elongated discography and allowing requests from the audience before launching into such crowd favorites as “Indestructible Sam” and “Superstars Don’t Love.”

For some of his set, Buck 65 was joined on stage by Marnie Herald, who provided the opening act earlier in the evening.

Together, the duo generated a sultry melodic sound — Buck’s rhythmic finesse pairing flawlessly with Marnie’s tortured harmonies.

If not for Buck 65’s spastic dancing, one could possibly have fallen into a trance listening to them both.

Buck 65 continues to tour the nation, providing a clear and succinct picture of Canadian hip-hop and the true talents the nation boasts.

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