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Buck 65 - Square (WEA)

While many claim to be doing something different within the hip-hop community, the truth, in fact, is that, on the surface anyway, most are not. The whole genre appears to have become something of a parody of itself, all ass-shaking and bling bling. One man who is trying to shake things up from the inside out is the much respected and very talented Buck 65. With 'Square', he has a superb hip-hop masterpiece, well almost. There are a few flaws and cracks, but, in general, it's a strong release that takes the traditional elements of hip-hop and blends them with outside influences to form strong, solid songs.

"Square" is divided into four tracks, but that doesn't mean there are only four songs on the album. Each 'Square' is made up of a number of different elements, ranging from straight-on, old school hip-hop, to acoustic city rock, to laid back rap, to electronic soundscape, to atmospheric noise. Each 'square' is like an album condensed with Squarepusher-type interludes linking the songs together. In a sense, it works, because the songs are so short the snatches of them have to be good. The downside is that this results in there often being too much of a mish-mash and it also leaves you wanting more of certain tracks. Also, you can't just skip ahead to your favourite song, you have to listen to all the ones in between because of how they are linked. It's a good concept though and, when you have time to sit back and listen to it, it sounds like a really good DJ set.

An album like this really makes you think that while the highly commercialised 50 Cent attempts to bring some "change" into the hip-hop scene, it is artists like Buck 65 and Dalek who are the real innovators here. Expect to see this album included in many end of year polls.

Ken McGrath

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