John Galt Entertainment
air to say most people had Young Buck pegged for third, right?
Behind Banks and 50 but a smidge ahead of Yayo?
In the G-Unit hierarchy, Young Buck was the southern viceroy, molding an authoritative and brutal (even for G-Unit) voice into something more than a bit cookie cutter. Weirdly enough, he and his G-Unit debut, the unforced, shocking Straight Outta Ca$hville, both came into this year smelling like a rose.
With nonexistent hype (even for Buck, whose major label bow got ¼ the press afforded to Banks and 1/16 of 50’s), the tiny label (their website, thus far, is impossible to locate) of Nashville’s John Galt Entertainment releases a collection of Buck’s pre-G-Unit material, and, no surprise here, it’s a low-budget (and I mean low) vehicle where Young Buck’s charms are alluring, if a little unrefined.
And not to belabor the down notes of the album, but the coarseness is, in fact, bold. In these songs, probably recorded around the same time as his 2000 mixtapes, he hasn’t fleshed out his grim sense of humor and he’s way too over reliant on the 2Pac-ish doubling back on the same rhyme (“I'd be still on the strip / You niggaz still runnin yo' lips, I be runnin’ them zips”).
Happily, the gnomons in his verbal style aren’t that perceivable yet because he’s already intense and focused. Bitches are forgettable. The rap game is nonexistent. Metaphors and radio-safe slang get forgotten in the historical (in both the rap and traditional poetic) process of naming things as they actually are. Crack. Guns. Abuse. Geto Boys dark side.
Buck details specific macabre and cinematic moments, like killing a snitch on his birthday, way before Jeezy found a half-dozen solid, major label symbols for crack dealing. This early manifesto of delivering raw details with minimal slang stuck by him; it’s ridiculously easy to see Ca$hville’s “Black Gloves” and “Do It Like Me” in chrysalis when lined up next to T.I.P.’s “Get Your Murder On” and “Penny Pinchin.”
He’s content when producers give him deep, No Wave-ish guitar seizures where others might stay in the light (“Get Your Murder On”). Even crappy, tinny sounding moments filled with bored snare patterns get punched into form with Buck’s snarl. He scratches at the syllables like a wolf, gnawing on threats and barking out curses. I don’t think it’s out of the question to say Young Buck has the driving energy to rival DMX and narrative skills the latter couldn’t dream of. Ca$hville would be my first piece in the argument, but T.I.P is still worthy evidence.
It pains to mention them again, but the meager production values on the compositions do take either a charitable ear or blind eye to get something out of the instrumentals alone. That said, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Buck’s future producers (Needlz first and foremost) once heard the habitat here and just tried to improve its melodrama-free, ground level stomp.
Buck has mixtapes; he’s got a history to fall back on. Frustratingly he’s lumped in with Yayo and Banks, two guys who are clearly part coattail. No matter. Buck raps here like a warrior: he’s seen it all before, he’s got a pretty good sense of what’s above. And when he anchors songs for newcomers like Rizin Sun (who trades ghazal-like couplets with Buck on the album opening “Blood In, Blood Out”), he never upstages the youth or lets the tension slack. He knew even then that two rappers make a song intrinsically different than one voice. That in itself is a lesson most rappers seldom learn as rookies. Further proof that perhaps Young Buck, rarely thought of as more than an orbiting moon, may just have a juicy role in southern rap cosmology after all.