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Buck 65

It’s been ten years since I saw Buck 65 in concert. Back then, he held the room alone with the mic, a MiniDisc player and his decks. I was a fan of Square’s flowing songs, of the formidable efficiency of The Centaur or 4 6 3, and was won over even more by his live show. Having followed the rest of the adventure with interest, his maneuvering towards a bigger rock sound (with Tortoise as a backing band, no less), I thought, however naively, that Buck 65 would use his Take-Away Show to take a bite of his first albums, with a Ghetto Blaster and some guys keeping the beat on the edges of the Opéra Bastille. It was a sort of fantasy.

Because Buck 65 is different. A dandy, an articulate gentleman, playful but skilled, efficient, no visible effort. No spinning b-boys, but a former model with a dreamy voice, no ghetto blaster, but an iPod slid into a small portable player – one that even had giant round batteries to pop inside, like an ancient, mythic memory. Buck 65, sensational on stage, found himself in front of a sparse audience, not counting the three pleasant high schoolers sitting quietly a few steps away, a small group vaguely intimidated, not knowing what the next few minutes held in store. But once the music started, any doubts disappeared.

There was, evidently, a complicit agreement between him and her. There was equally a tiny bit of malice towards the high schoolers. Above all, though, there was his unstoppable diction, his colourful evocations (Rossy de Palma, even!); in short, the thing that Richard Terfry does best: rap. I’d imagined an unrestrained MC, but I was wrong, I saw them together and I was happy. No lovey-dovey, no pretention, no joking around: just two people seeking to be, for the space of an instant, within parentheses.

The bassin de l’Arsenal was an obvious choice, sheltered from the traffic and the crowd. We felt less and less there; the music, the two of them walking along the docks, heard only by the carefully moored boats. The day ended cold, a white light perfect for “Cold Steel Drum”, strangers crossed our paths, grazing the bubble of Buck 65 and the girl answering his song, but without really grasping the scope of what was happening. An ordinary day in Paris.