Buck 65 Secret House Against The World

[Warner Bros.; 2005]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: weird collage rap
Others: Anticon, Sixtoo, MC Shan

If it wasn't for his unique tone of voice that made Talkin' Honky Blues so famous in 2003, Buck 65's newest adventure, titled Secret House Against The World, would be virtually unrecognizable. After repeated listens, this album feels less and less like a hip-hop album and gravitates to an indescribable distinction. Full of musical influences (folk, blues, jazz, Beck!!), Buck 65's intent seems clearer as each album has been released, especially since Blues: Thank you hip-hop for making me famous, but Fuck you, I'm too old for childish games. Perhaps that may seem harsh to say, but nothing on Secret House Against The World follows along with anything he has done in the past. Only three years after the mainstream world was introduced to his brilliant hip-hop Language Arts Series (thanks to Warner's reissues), Buck plunges in the depths of experimental music with his newest release and assembles a mixture of strange, quirky, and uncomfortable songs that leans further away from reality. So, will his fans accept his metamorphosis or is this transition the end of Buck 65's impressive career?

Secret House Against The World opens where Blues left off. Guitar twang, gruff vocals, and a plethora of visual lyricism are all facets that initiated Buck 65's directional deviance in his previous two albums (the other one being his reworked best of selection titled This Right Here). And other than a few other minute glimpses of Buck's style of yesteryears ("The Floor"), Secret House offers a mixture of songs that conjure a variety of judgments and conclusion. "Kennedy Killed The Hat," the album's first single, dabbles too close to Beck's Odelay-era genre. "Devil's Eyes" is guilty of the same experimental endeavor, yet seems less forced. "Le 65isme" is an impulsive, drum-layered song with catchy and playful vocals and an addictive bassline. "Drawing Curtains" closely resembles Tricky's Maxinquaye-era trip-hop, with its luscious beats and hypnotic vocal companionship. And as the album comes to its conclusion, most of Secret House Against The World works to exemplify Buck 65's immense talents and unmatched aptitude.

If you've been a fan of Buck 65 since his basement days, then you will probably agree to follow along with his newfound musical direction. Die-hard Language Arts fans have probably already detached themselves from Buck's desperate search for musical identity. One thing is for sure; Buck 65 has grown up. He is letting others make decisions and is collaborating more and more with other musicians and singers. His excessive perfectionism that was evident in his previous work has dissipated, and making music seems more fun for Buck 65. Secret House Against The World is a fun-filled affair that only reinforces Buck 65's stature as one of "hip-hop's" more versatile "emcees."

1. Rough House Blues
2. Devil's Eyes
3. Le 65isme
4. Drunk Without Drinking
5. Surrender To Strangeness
6. Kennedy Killed The Hat
7. The Floor
8. Blood Of A Young Wolf
9. The Suffering Machine
10. Blanc-Bec
11. Corrugated Tin Facade
12. Drawing Curtains
13. Devil's Eyes