I want to call Buck 65 the most interesting man in Canadian hip-hop, but that wouldn’t be doing him justice. He is a strong candidate for the most interesting man in hip-hop—anywhere. For more than two decades, Buck 65 has been challenging fans, daring them to not like him with constant twists and turns and complete unpredictability while he follows his muse. Some of his projects have challenged fans like the recent release of Neverlove, his latest pop-drenched slice of hip-hop weirdness. The songs on the album are unlike anything Buck has previously recorded, bouncing with big hooks and covered in shimmery glitter—perfect for drunken nights in the club. On hearing the album it’s easy to see why some people would take this sudden shift in style so drastically, but in a live setting—at Lucky Bar on Thursday, Nov. 6 to be exact—the songs were impossible to ignore. Live, they pop and burst and stand as strong as anything else in Buck’s extensive catalogue.
“Super Pretty Naughty” might be the most annoying song of the year but watching Buck perform it, complete with gratuitous crotch thrusting, was endlessly endearing and couldn’t help but win me over (I’ve spun the track numerous times since, trying to show my new-found love to others with no avail). “Love Will Fuck You Up,” flowing along its skeletal piano line, was imbued with an extra neurosis and fragility, aided greatly by Buck’s Swedish secret weapon, singer Tiger Rosa, who spent nearly half the show on stage with Buck, singing and sharing loving glances. At one point she removed her thin belt and playfully whipped Buck in the fanny while he worked his beats on the side of the stage.
As good as those new songs came across, it was the old songs which built the legend of Buck 65 that drew the biggest responses from the capacity crowd this night. “Roses & Bluejays,” a thoughtful reflection on his father, sounded as fresh and deep as ever. Two of Buck’s most famous songs, “Wicked & Weird” and “The Centaur,” got aggressive and dark reworkings, the latter delivered with more sneer and menace than the album version—now over a decade old—would ever let on. The titular centaur has apparently grown a lot more bitter at the world’s misunderstanding over the years.
Throughout the whole affair Buck poured buckets of sweat in his suit, clearly ill-fitted for the high energy hip-hop he was delivering. Near the end of the show he remarked that the suit was probably more liquid than fabric, but never once did near-heat exhaustion seem to slow him down. During “Zombie Delight,” his stomping ode to everyone’s favourite kind of apocalypse, he stumbled around like a drunken, hip Frankenstein’s monster. His dancing was furious, jagged, and at times hilariously “provocative.”
The only real misstep of the evening was Buck’s bizarre choice of hairstyle that lay somewhere between a rat-tail and a mullet, which is a very small and admittedly stupid complaint against a guy who makes a ton of daring choices with his art and in his shows. But really, that shit was distracting. By the end of his career-spanning set, Buck, lamenting the lack of slow-dancing in our lives after we leave grade school, jumped down into the crowd and got those slow dances with a variety of gals and guys. It was an appropriately unexpected, joyfully weird end to an evening from a guy who has made a career out of being joyously weird.