Buck 65


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In spite of sounding like it was recorded in some poorly lit cellar, Vertex is rife with bright flashes of Buck 65's subdued brilliance. Although the overall aesthetic of the record is of a decidedly D.I.Y. flavor (with 65 handling everything from the decks to production duties), it never feels anything less than wholly authentic. Chalk that up to 65's seemingly boundless spectrum of ideas; where other emcees might self-reflexively limit themselves (and their subject matter) to the confines of some predetermined blueprint, 65 gives listeners every neuron in his muddled brainwaves. One minute he's playing the part of a contemplative, well-endowed centaur ("I'm a man but I'm built like a horse from the waist down"), the next he's documenting his real-life baseball team's victory in the 1993 Nova Scotia Provincial Championships. Equally remarkable is Buck 65's adroit turntablism. Here he eschews letter-perfect technique in favor of his own hard-won, tricked-up minimalism; the result is an album that somehow sounds outside (but not ahead) of hip-hop. No doubt, then, Vertex is an inadvertent paean to the possibilities of imagination and innovation.

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