Gain more insight into significant hip-hop figures by checking out their revealing answers to our questionnaire.
Before he was the host of the CBC Radio program Drive, Rich Terfry was/is Buck 65, one of the world's most compelling hip-hop artists and champion of his home province, Nova Scotia. He celebrated two decades of greatness in 2011 with the album 20 Odd Years and he continues to exhibit an ear for eclectic music and a gift for witty wordplay.
This week, Buck 65 tours across the Prairies with stops in Winnipeg (May 11) and Saskatoon (May 12), followed by Vancouver (May 18) and Calgary (May 19).
UPDATE: Buck 65 has fallen ill and has postponed all of the shows he was scheduled to play this week. He should be good for any shows beyond these.
"My head exploded in slow motion last night," Buck 65 said, in an exclusive conversation with CBC Music this morning. "I'm fighting off one of the worst illnesses of my life right now. I don't even know what it is. Feels like something half-way between a cold and flu with a monumental amount of mucus in every cavity of my body. It's been a slightly different story every day. Last night one of my sinuses became infected causing vertigo and the worst headache I've ever had. It has also affected my hearing. I did some research and found that the risk of flying with a severe sinus infection is a ruptured ear drum, which is not a risk I can take. Ruptured eardrums hurt and take a long time to heal and as a "musician" I kinda need my eardrums. I feel awful in my systems and awful in my heart that I'm going to miss seeing my friends in Winnipeg and Saskatoon this weekend, but I promise I'll make it up real soon. I'll double down on the jams and dance moves for you."
Here he is now, with our best questionnaire answers ever?
What was the first hip-hop record you ever bought and where'd you get it?
When I was still young enough to be babysat, I was in love with my best friend's older sister. Her name was Adrienne. She was beautiful. Black hair, blue eyes. I've always been helpless with that combination. I would always ask my mother to try to arrange to have her babysit me. I have a memory of her laying on my couch. She was wearing a yellow mesh shirt. It was some kind of sports jersey. That kind of thing was pretty popular at the beginning of the '80s. It may have been emblazoned with the number 88.
Adrienne's boyfriend was an identical twin. These twin brothers were DJs at the rollerskating rink and they played hip-hop records sometimes – early stuff: 12" singles from the Sugar Hill and Enjoy labels. Sometimes Adrienne would invite him over to hang out while she babysat me. I thought he was the coolest guy in the world. I was too young to be jealous of him. He'd tell me all about Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five and Spoonie Gee and the Funky Four Plus One. I was a big fan of the Treacherous Three. He had an extra copy of the Feel The Heartbeat 12" and sold it to me for a handful of quarters. I think he was addicted to Galaga.
Where did the name that you perform under come from exactly?
My dad gave me the nickname the day I was born. Everyone in my family and the people I grew up with still call me by that name. My father never explained it to me. I've asked a few times, but he's always cagey about it. I have a feeling I don't want to know the truth about it.
Which hip-hop artist is your biggest inspiration and why?
I don't think I can name a single person, but I can name a single group: Ultramagnetic MCs. I think Kool Keith is the greatest and most innovative rapper ever. He did more to stretch the boundaries of what a rapper can do than anyone else I can think of. In the early days, he invented all sorts of delivery styles that soon became the norm. Before Keith, rapping was quite basic and followed the beat closely. But Keith was the first I ever heard to rhyme off-beat and to place the rhymes in all sorts of unexpected places. He also had (and still has) the most incredible imagination and he's always been very funny. He'd rap about brains and mangos and gerbils and shit.
But I also loved Ultra for the beats. They came along when sampling was just taking over from drum machines and synths. But they weren't just sampling James Brown like everyone else. Their stuff sounded like it was from outer space! The beats were so heavy and their sources were crazy-obscure. And I loved Moe Love's work on the turntables – it was amazing. It was very aggressive and even a bit sloppy, but in a way that I liked. Their music sounded like an onslaught. I couldn't get enough. Their first album, Critical Beatdown, blew my mind and is an undisputed classic, but I also love their second album, Funk Your Head Up. Most people – including the members of the group themselves – seem to hate that record. It does have a few stinkers on it. But songs like "Bust The Facts," for example, oh man.... For me, that's what hip-hop is all about. All hail Ultra.
Where is your favourite place to eat on this planet Earth and what are you having?
I've had amazing meals all over the world. There's a place in Shanghai called Southern Barbarian that absolutely blew my mind. There's a Spanish place in Galway, Ireland, of all places that has some of the best food I've ever eaten. Lahore Tikka Palace in Toronto is crazy-good. I could go on and on, but if I had to pick just one thing, I'd keep it simple. My favourite thing in the world is a cheeseburger from Shake Shack in New York City. Makes me weak just thinking about it. I don't know what their secret is. It's a very simple burger. But it's the best I ever had, by a mile.
Which hip-hop artist would you most like to collaborate with?
I've been lucky enough to work with some of my favourites already. I'm a hardcore DJ nerd and I've been fortunate enough to have D-Styles work on a bunch of my songs. He's incredible. I think he's from another planet. I've recorded and shared a stage with a bunch of legends. But I haven't done anything with my idol, Kool Keith. I'd love to work with him, but I'd be afraid to ask.
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