Buck'n'Nice have the Game figured out
SAW BUCK and DJ So Nice learned some hard lessons before teaming up for their second collaboration, EMAG.
A phone ringing and a quick skit starts this fresh hip hop album. EMAG - the second lp from Ottawa duo Buck'n'Nice made up of rapper SAWBUCK and producer & DJ So Nice. The 45 second skit tees up the theme of the album with reference to tapped calls and music industry meetings.The opportunities were amazing but some of the realizations that came with those opportunities were just disheartening and frustrating and made us mad
EMAG – it is the word “game” spelled backwards. And that is what it is all about – that the game is backwards. The music industry game that is. After the release of their first full length, Us Versus Them in 2014, Buck'n'Nice saw some things that they couldn't abide says SAW BUCK “Approaching this album, we had a lot on our minds about some of the frustrations and disappointments that we had after the successes of our first album and the opportunities that we were getting. The opportunities were amazing but some of the realizations that came with those opportunities were just disheartening and frustrating and made us mad.”
Authenticity and being true to your self permeates the whole album and their approach to life. “Being genuine, upfront and real is a philosophy that we live by, so it is infused in our music. I guess it is just who we are as artists.” explains DJ So Nice “We are not really interested in music that isn't a true reflection of the people behind it. We want to live what we preach. We want to shed light on the smoke and mirrors that is the industry. We want to talk about it, we want to make it part of the conversation. When we put out our music we don't do things like click farming for youtube. We want to generate real growth. It is just part of who we are and what we want to represent.”
EMAG's title track is both a scathing response to their own experience and a touch of sage advice for those coming up. “We try to share as much info as we can,” says SAW BUCK, “To have people with the knowledge who are willing to school you on it is a valuable thing and we learned that from our OGs. We try to pass that on.” While this album has a lot to say, Buck'n'Nice aren't so heavy handed that you can't feel the beats and get lost in the poetry of the rhymes. EMAG is an inspiring hip hop album that you will want to put on repeat.
Moving from the political to the creative, I asked Buck'n'Nice about working together and creating. “I try not to cloud my creative process with pre-meditated ideas” Saw Buck tells me, “I just sit down with whatever is on my mind and I find the ink just fills the page when I do it that way”. Bringing the music and words together DJ So Nice explains “I will make a beat,send it to Saw Buck, he'll get a feel from the beat or get ideas from the beat. Other times he'll have something that was written to a beat someone else made like an industry beat and it'll be my job to try to build a production around that. That works as well. And then other times we sit in a room together,I'll be banging out a melody and Saw Buck will start writing on the spot to the rhythm I am producing and we organically create a song. It is always different, we don't want to limit ourselves.”To have people with the knowledge who are willing to school you on it is a valuable thing and we learned that from our OGs
EMAG is loaded with collaborations – folks you know and others Buck'n'Nice are setting up. “When we collaborate with artists there could be two different motives.” explains So Nice “One is to support and promote those artists we think are not getting enough shine in the scene particularly in the Ottawa scene – artists that we want to uphold and say hey you need to listen to this. On the other side we have artists that we look up to and that we've been listening to for a long time that we have built relationships with and we want to pay them some hommage by having them on our album as well.” True to the feelings about the game, Saw Buck interjects “ I think sometimes when people go straight to the “pay for” collaboration they are missing out on some of the best parts of what this whole thing is supposed to be about.”
One of these is ShowOff artist, REK out of Boston, featured on “Time” a plea about the reality and ravages of time passing. Other collabs include Freddy Printz, Whitney Delion and members of Flight Distance including Bender who recently passed from this life. “We reached out personally to legends. And with no publicists behind us, they started spinning us on XM,” says Saw Buck “so people are paying thousands, tens of thousands of dollars to get these same small gains that they could do if they just made moves that they believe in. People can hear that, that you're being genuine. If you're actually doing it and then you're following up, you can still make moves without getting involved in this rat race of just garbage that we see every turn we take.”
The final track “Same Old Same” might be my fave on the album and features Dee Ghabrial and Aldean Alliston. It has an old school feel and wraps up the album with a sense of satisfaction.
“Just seeing the response that we're getting to EMAG,” Saw Buck muses “it's another kind of a light in the dark for us to see that we can manage to be critical of an industry and still continue to gain leverage within it.”So maybe BUCK'N'NICE's next album won't have to be so cynical and they can come at it with the new experiences that they gained from the swell of this one.