Buff1 - Buffest Of The Bunch
Michigan MC Buff1 commanded the spotlight with his debut album Pure, and cemented his reputation with his sophomore effort, There’s Only One, back in August. Now he’s in Australia to show you what he’s all about, and beware: beating up the speakers may be involved. 3D’s Fat Tony got buffed.
Buff1 has been rhyming and making beats now for almost 14 years, but it wasn't until 2007 that he broke through with his debut album Pure. The follow-up, There's Only One, dropped in August this year to much critical acclaim, and has further catapulted the Michigan based MC into underground hip hop's spotlights.
I spoke to him in LA, where he's been gigging around town, including doing a show with our very own M-Phazes. In between shows he's working on his third album with none other than Rhettmatic of the World Famous Beat Junkies, which should be out early '09. There's barely been a pause in recording in the last three years.
“I gotta keep it movin',” Buff explains. “Unfortunately these days in the age of the internet people have short attention spans so I figure if you have the talent, and the means, stay working.”
The first two albums were produced by his Michigan homies the Athletic Mic League, including sub group the Lab Technicians. “To break it down real quick there are seven members of the Athletic Mic League, of the seven members there are four people who make beats as well as rhyme, and they go by the Lab Techs. They did 99.9% of the [There's Only One] album, except one song which was produced by Black Milk.”
The attention that's swung his way via his powerful albums has changed things up considerably, with recognition comes a certain healthy swagger. “I've been through more experiences, I feel more confident in who I am as a person, you can hear that in my delivery, in my rhymes, in my content. It's the same production crew behind both albums. The good thing about working with the Lab Techs is that there's four of them, and they all have their own unique style.”
It's a crucial time politically in the US, and many artists have been taking the opportunity to add their voices to the mix, Buff1 included. His lyrical content is diverse - check the video for club banger Beat The Speakers Up – but you will find conscious tracks in his repertoire.
“I was sitting here watching the Presidential debate right before you called. On the last album there was a song House Of Horrors, which was pretty much talking about the state of the government under President Bush.” Going into this new album Buff felt he'd already dealt with the subject of the highly questionable job that Bush had done, so he decided to look to the future. “So now I got a song on the [new] album called Rain Dance. I talk about how we're supposed to be the United States Of America but in reality we're really not that united, we split the country up with red states and blue states.”
He likens the ugly media stoushes that the parties participate in to gang violence. “Democrats and Republicans are like the new Bloods and Crips, you know all the attack ads they put on TV, the slander… it kind of makes you not want to be involved in the political process. But in Rain Dance on this new album, I thought well that era's over, Bush is over, he won't be back, so we can't use that as an excuse anymore, we've got to look toward the future. We really have to elect the right person.”
Where other rappers might steer clear of the subject matter, Buff emulates the conscious ethos from artists he listened to as a kid. “Yeah, Public Enemy. 'I got a letter from the government the other day, opened it, read it, it said they were suckers'. Public Enemy was a huge influence on me. Ice Cube – ‘I never have dinner with the President’ - all this stuff sticks in my head, and is a part of who I am. When I was young I listened to everything, it wasn't all political, it wasn't all party, it wasn't girl oriented, it wasn't street gangster stuff, it was everything. That all shaped who I am as an MC. I definitely get influences from those who came before me who did touch on political topics like that.”
WHAT: Plays The Gaelic Club
WHEN: Saturday 15 November