Well now I'm confused. With 2003's seminal Talkin' Honky Blues Buck 65 kept one eye in the rear view mirror of hip hop and the other trained way ahead into a land only he knew about. This departure from his roots was reinforced on Secret House Against The World but for different reasons. On both albums he was infusing his rhyme style with heart wrenching folk fables and personal observations that rocketed him way beyond the grasp of hip hop. So now, with what I think is his 11th album, he seems to have come back home.
This statement is neither completely true nor a terrible thing but more a curious shift from the course he seemed to be heading. Situation is a concept album of sorts and this just adds to my confusion. The record is based around the many defining events of 1957, a date that Buck claims was the start of underground and independent culture and that 50 years on we are on the cusp of a similar renaissance. This in itself is an interesting concept but with his last 2 albums Buck seemed to be an artist that was leading the way in this renaissance but with this return to hip hop appears to be a safe step backwards. I know that the whole album is a glance back over the last 50 years but in following that concept so closely Situation can, at times sound like my dad complaining that things weren't like that in his day.
But I wouldn't want to labour the negative too much as this is still a great listen. The return to hip hop means Buck's trademark one-man-band scratches and cuts are faster than ever and the beats heavy and rapid. The homemade sound has been buffed up and the production is tight. Thematically, Situation sheds the autobiographical approach in favour of a more fictional storytelling. In many of the songs Buck vividly creates a myriad of strange characters that, in all their many guises, inhabit the dark and seedy world of 1957. Shutter Buggin' sees him as a sleazy and reluctant pornographer who's just in it for the cash while his vice-squad cop in Spread 'Em deals with the same low-life but from the other side.
Songs like Ho-Boys and The Beatific hark back to the Buck of recent past with their delicate piano melody and understated beats. His rhymes are masked in the regular abstract imagery here and fit better with his gruff delivery. This can be said for many of the songs throughout the second half of this record. It seems to settle into itself and not feel the need to hammer home the concept. These songs have more longevity due to their reluctance to give it all up at once. With Mr Nobody and the beautiful The Outskirts the tempo is brought right down and this is when I think Buck is at his strongest. His style suits a shuffling pace and coupled with the delicate guitar and saxophone he manages to create real melancholia and with it his 1957 concept seems all the more believable.
Buck 65 is undoubtedly one of the more interesting MC's around at the moment. His back catalogue shows clearly his ability to dazzle and surprise. He is capable of intricately weaving rhymes about an abusive father or the size of his manhood all in the same album but this is the first time such a defined structure has been imposed on his work. I am not sure it really works to the extent that it's meant to as the constant references to the past can sound tired and the whole back-in-the-day hip hop thing has a very short lifespan. But, as soon as the lines are blurred around this concept the record starts to come into its own. Situation is a collection of great songs and while it may not work as a whole it is as expertly crafted as you'd expect from an artist who has always been about a hip hop renaissance.
21st Nov 2007 - Tumblr3
More Heart Than Brains
Jackals And Vipers In Envy Of Man
Secret House Against The World
Human The Death Dance
Solid stop-motion animation that’s light on plot, but high on charm.
12th Apr 2019Read more 2.5 star reviews
Surprisingly stylish sequel that drops the ball in classic straight-to-VHS style halfway through.
6th Apr 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Opaque Alaskan thriller from Jeremy Saulnier, with little regard for convention.
1st Apr 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Low key indie spin on Rambo, as a father and daughter try and live off grid.
28th Mar 2019Read more 3.5 star reviews
Fun biopic that runs out of steam about when the band did.
25th Mar 2019Read more 3 star reviews
A diminished remake of Deadpool 1. Occasional LOLs.
25th Mar 2019Read more 2.5 star reviews
High concept sci-fi that stretches its concept a little thin.
19th Mar 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Unremarkable, cliche-ridden actioner. Utterly lacking in suspense.
17th Mar 2019Read more 2.5 star reviews
A disjointed patchwork of homages, nods and rip offs from dozens of other movies, with little to offer of its own.
11th Mar 2019Read more 2 star reviews
Laborious, high-concept alien horror. While the concept is good, the beats are all well telegraphed.
2nd Mar 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Witty, if a little obvious, post-meta rom-com.
1st Mar 2019Read more 3 star reviews
The Second Part
It’s literally a re-hash of all the themes of the first one with a few less jokes.
23rd Feb 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Slight, but sometime engaging iPhone feature.
26th Jan 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Decent modern spin on Mary Poppins. Bit uneven, but a nice soundtrack helps things along.
20th Jan 2019Read more 3.5 star reviews
Bog standard entry into The-Rock-action-movie genre. As much personality as a computer game.
3rd Jan 2019Read more 3 star reviews
This time it’s really, really serious. Seriously.
27th Dec 2018Read more 3 star reviews
It’s a musical ...but slick direction makes it just about bearable.
24th Dec 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Pop-culture bouillabaisse, hampered by numerous terrible accents.
24th Dec 2018Read more 3.5 star reviews
Pacey, emotional, old-fashioned indie pic. Beautifully observed.
15th Dec 2018Read more 4 star reviews
Surprisingly underwhelming biopic that doesn’t find its feet until 20m from the end.
24th Nov 2018Read more 3.5 star reviews
Utterly derivative / thoroughly enjoyable ‘Heat’ rip off.
21st Nov 2018Read more 3.5 star reviews
Well crafted character study, with some nice touches.
10th Nov 2018Read more 4 star reviews
Brutal revenge thriller. Stylish and violent, with plenty of explanation left to the imagination.
4th Nov 2018Read more 3.5 star reviews
Intense indie drama from Netflix. Impeccably acted and directed.
27th Oct 2018Read more 4 star reviews
Disappointingly unoriginal superhero movie, complete with dull CGI action.
27th Oct 2018Read more 2 star reviews
Continually clichéd rock romance that never breaks into originality.
13th Oct 2018Read more 1.5 star reviews
Dry Morrissey biopic that gets arty by avoiding using any Smiths songs.
7th Oct 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Decent rehash of vintage indie movie tropes.
7th Oct 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Mumblingly wordy western that’s big on self-importance and low on drama and tension.
25th Sep 2018Read more 2.5 star reviews
Muddled biopic with occasional moments of eccentric comedy madness.
22nd Sep 2018Read more 2.5 star reviews
Like a long episode of Girls that’s all about one of the more boring characters.
16th Sep 2018Read more 2 star reviews
Slightly confused slice of post-Michael Mann LA crime.
7th Sep 2018Read more 2.5 star reviews
Sympathetic retread of Single White Female, with added #hashtags.
26th Aug 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Welcome to the Jungle
Fun updated reboot with added Breakfast Club.
26th Aug 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Low-tide mark for super hero movies. I only finished watching to see how bad it could get.
14th Aug 2018Read more 1 star reviews
It’s a cover version of every other Mallick pic, but the setting is inspired and the improv from Gosling is enjoyably enthusiastic.
8th Aug 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Well written, well paced sequel. Surprisingly competent and heartwarming.
4th Aug 2018Read more 3.5 star reviews
70s pot boiler that lazily meanders through a series of mediocre set pieces.
23rd Jul 2018Read more 2.5 star reviews
Enjoyable change of pace for the super hero genre. Comedy wins.
21st Jul 2018Read more 3.5 star reviews
Great concept, but shoddily directed and utterly devoid of jeopardy.
17th Jul 2018Read more 2 star reviews
Small scale wartime espionage flick. Decent, but a bit laboured.
15th Jul 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Sub Roland Emmerich swill, with Gerard Butler saving the world from crazy weather.
13th Jul 2018Read more 2 star reviews
Derivative but fun romp through 80s CIA drug and gun running.
12th Jul 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Brutally sincere, painfully thin yakuza flick. Jared Leto goes full Gaijin.
6th Jul 2018Read more 2 star reviews
Huge misfire from Tomas Alfredson, with a multitude of bizarre choices. Like a bad 80's VHS rental.
6th Jul 2018Read more 1.5 star reviews
Brutally violent, post-Tarantino western. It’s all a bit mechanical.
2nd Jun 2018Read more 3 star reviews
A Star Wars Story
Reasonable, forgettable addition. Overfilling that mysterious back story.
1st Jun 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Lazy double-crossing spy drama, directed with a certain amount of swagger.
24th May 2018Read more 2.5 star reviews
Stylish, incredibly depressing portrait of life on the margins.
12th May 2018Read more 3.5 star reviews