After writing about this “rising star” for three (!) inclusions on my “Top 100 Tracks Of ‘07″ list, you’d think that I’d be running out of words to describe the presence that Buff 1 left on Hip Hop last year with his solo debut “Pure” (Aside Worldwide). Hardly, matter of fact, it’s albums like this….the one’s that appear virtually outta’ nowhere that make “blogging” so damn enjoyable. It almost makes you feel as if “you” had something to do with his or her notoriety or rise to stardom. There was no better feeling I had last year than after my wife’s birth to our second Daughter (we actually did a “home birth”). Ecstatic, overjoyed, yet extremely tired (although not nearly as much as my Wife), near 2:30 A.M. that morning, headphones in tow, I sprawled out on my couch to “unwind” with some new music and that’s when Buff’s empowering lyrics to “Pure” blasted through my “Sony’s”. If you wanna’ get specific, “Pure” may have only qualified as the “intro” to “Pure”, being that it’s only 2 Minutes and 29 seconds, but this track has made my spine tingle each and every time I hear it. Yet, it takes me back to “that” feeling that I had when my Daughter was introduced to the World. Immediately, with no warning or delay Buff hit you with his rapid fire, yet poignant delivery, and when the opening drums burst to the surface at around the 1:30 mark of “Pure” it’s a wrap! Bam! That was it, from that point on I was “sold” on the quality of not only Buff’s lyrics and flow! (don’t sleep, the production on “Pure” is bangin’ too!)
Now, some of you may recall Buff and the Lab Techs (who handled the bulk of the production duties for “Pure”) from their earlier days as members of the D’s (Detroit) famed Athletic Mic League (AML). Matter of fact, it was the Lab Techs who produced the critically acclaimed AML 2002 release “Sweats and Kicks”, as well as the mutually revered national release of “Jungle Gym Jungle” (2004, Barak Records). However, it was the remaining emcees of the AML who approached Buff with a change of plans: it was time to for Buff to emerge as a solo artist. With the blessings of the Athletic Mic League, and the Lab Techs helming the boards, Buff delivered an extremely impressive solo debut that was highly overlooked in ’07. Buff is a uniqe emcee who possesses an unmatched lyrical talent that is highlighted by humor that doesn’t come naturally to most. Buff is also very effective in relaying a simple philosophy of those “deeper thoughts” that everyone can relate to, but none can seem able to verbalize with his ease.
So here we are…..a year later, and while the quality releases for ’08 are starting to pile up, it’s never too late to revisit an album that some of you may have slept on in 2007. Recently, one of Detroit’s finest offered listeners his version of “VH1′s Classic Albums”, with his “break-down” of “Pure” and Buff was also generous enough to let W.T.R. share it with you. I truly wish that many more artists would follow in Buff’s path and take the time to sit down and detail an album’s structure, to include little tidbits that the listener, in most cases, may have been unaware of. Kudos to you Buff 1!! Also, the heat doesn’t end with “Pure” either, in preparation for his new LP, “There’s Only One”, Buff has recently leaked his newest banger “Beat The Speakers Up” (prod. by Lab Techs) click to DL along with the accompanying video (which you can peep below) for your viewing and listening pleasure. In the meantime, peep the “break-down” and enjoy the album, or vice versa. Also, make sure you go out and get yourself a copy of Buff1′s “Pure”. Shit, I know it’s a downloader’s world, but you gotta’ go out and support the artists (like Buff 1) that are actually crafting good records or they’ll cease to exist and we’ll be subjected to the Souljah Boys, Akons & T-Pains of the world even more so!!
1. “Pure” prod. by Lab Techs
“Parts of the verse from “Pure” were about 3 years old when (it) came out. It went through transformations as did the beat for the intro. The verse was originally recorded on one of KT’s beats titled “Sledgehammer”. I wanted to see if I could get away with a 3 year old verse. I liked it but it was kinda’ dark so I edited it into my life story in a verse and made it what you hear on the intro. The beat for the intro was one of three I recorded on; it was the first and the last. I recorded on this beat but I thought it wasn’t hype enough. KT then gave me a Teddy Pendergrass loop for the intro that I recorded on but that wasn’t emotional enough for me. THEN he gave me what you will soon hear on “The Golden Hour” titled as “Ivory Pillars”. I loved this one but the original beat kept calling me like a child I left to fend for itself. As a result, I went BACK to the original beat. KT being the weirdo/genius he is decided at the last minute he wanted to leave the drums out for most of the verse, turned out to be dope! Thus, you have the title track/intro “Pure”.
2. “Get To It” prod. by Lab Techs
“This one is simple. KT didn’t really like this beat. It was kinda’ old and it was a keyboard beat which was different for AML (Athletic Mic League). I heard it and loved it, KT was weary but I knew I could make a classic banger out of it, and that’s what I did!”
“When it was decided that I would do a solo album, I knew I wanted to use this beat from Tres. I had it in rotation for a while. I knew I wanted to write about adult responsibilities on this one. I wrote the verses and I heard some singing on the hook. Around the time I was working on this I had met (through the internet) Tiffany Paige through my man Zo(!). She asked me to spit a verse on one of her songs for a mixtape. She’s dope so I returned the favor and asked her to sing the hook. Classic Material.”
4. “Slick” prod. by Lab Techs
“Another one of KT’s older beats. Whenever I heard it I just felt like a Black superhero, haha! That’s why the first verse is what it is. And even though I’m fully aware that I make “underground” hip hop, I thought we could still make an attempt at making the ladies 2-step in the club so I kinda’ made the hook and second verse kinda’ lighthearted. Then I wanted to really throw people off and get real hip hop on em and throw some cuts at the end. Got ‘Cut to get busy one time and there you have it.
5. “The Kingdom” ft Miz Korona and Elzhi prod. by Lab Techs
“Yet another one of KT’s older beats. Marv (Won) actually recorded a joint to this but I had to have it. I just wanted this to be raw spittin’ so I got Korona and El on it. The drums just sounded like Africa to me so I went with the African king vibe, hence, “The Kingdom”. Thanks Marv, I owe you homie!
6. “I Go” prod. by Mr. Porter
“One of the two outside of the Lab Techs produced tracks. Long story long, DDT of fm98 liked my song “Hula Hoops”, A LOT. He played it on the radio, A LOT. He works with Denaun Porter (aka Mr. Porter, aka Kon Artist of D-12) for his Runyan Ave. label. DDT played it for Mr. Porter, he loved it and wanted to know who did the beat. KT did the beat and they got cool on the producer admiration tip. Mr. Porter liked what KT does, liked a couple songs we let him hear from my album, liked our hustle. As a result he gave me a beat on g.p.! This man gets literally millions of dollars to make beats and he gave me one for free! One love to Mr. Porter! Oh, the song, I wanted to just chill and show how effortless my skills were, so that’s what I did.”
7. “Big Thangs” prod. by Lab Techs
Vaughan and Wes (the brothers Taylor) said I needed and Ann Arbor anthem song where I claimed the Ann Arbor mayoral throne and made people proud to be from the Deuce. V gave me a beat cd, don’t think he intended for me to use this one but I picked it, something different. It kinda had the south snap feel. I’m from the A so I wanted my people down there and the people up here who ONLY listen to artists on the radio to be able to vibe to it. I kept the pattern simple but I still did me on it. V came up with “small town folks” bridge and the rest is history, came out dope”.
“NOT one of KT’s older beats. KT had the sample part at the beginning and my first inclination was to take “pretty baby” and make it about a fictional pretty female I was trying to court. Instead I decided to take “pretty baby” and think about Black youth in America. Glad I did. It sounded classic so I decided to go all the way classic in the vein of Nas’ “Life’s A B!tch” and get my man Sam Beaubien to play the horns on it. There it is”.
9. “Much Better” ft. OneBeLo prod. by Lab Techs
“KT and Drew made this beat together just messing around one day, I was there when they started. It sounded real sexy so I wanted to do something the ladies could feel. But in an attempt to straddle the fence I wanted to keep it hip hop, haha! I wrote a metaphorical verse as if hip hop was a woman, like hundreds of emcees before me have done and hundreds more after me will do. I reached out to my homie of about 10 years and one my favorite emcees in the rap game OneBeLo (he’s good at the metaphorical hip hop stuff, haha!). I couldn’t think of a hook so I had Jax do his thing. Drew finished up the beat, and BAM”!
10. “FoodChainGang” prod. by Lab Techs
“This may be my favorite song on the album, and NOBODY talks about it. It’s just raw. Vaughan made the beat while he was out in NY, grinding, trying to make it happen. Us back here at home titled it “Vaughan’s Hungry”, haha! That kinda influenced me to go in the direction I did, hunger, the haves and the have nots and what people do to get things when they don’t have them; “Food-Chain-Gang”. I love the hook, two of my favorite verses ever, the beat is Buh-nan-nuz. Everything just meshed well on this one to me”.
11. “House of Horrors” prod. by Lab Techs
“I wrote this verse to the beat that eventually became Octane and Illite’s “Leave Me Alone”. KT put the scream at the beginning and it just sounded scary. I wanted to say something kinda political but I also wanted to catch people off guard and challenge them to think for themselves. The song is kinda’ heavy so I wanted to lighten it up with some comic relief so I found a funny Bush quote on the internet (one of MANY). It just happened to flow into the next song since I start it off laughing at these untalented rappers, that song happens to be…”
12. “Supreme” ft. Invincible and Guilty Simpson prod. by Waajeed
“This is the other song with production from someone other than the Lab Techs, W-AA-JE-ED!!!!! Got my sister Invincible on it. I let her choose which song she wanted to be on, she didn’t wanna be pigeonholed into a type of sound (sorry Lo, haha! I’ll let you choose next time) and she knew being on a song with Guilty would be different for her. Guilty was on my first mixtape, “The One and Only Mixtape” in ’05 so we had to do it again!”
13. “Show Stopper” prod. by Lab Techs
The title pretty much says it all. Vaughan made the beat, I knew it would be a show anthem. I just had to let people know that my live show was like no one else’s and well worth the price of admission.
14. “Hula Hoops”
“Plain and simple, this song was a joke. The beat is crazy of course, but the rest was pretty much me and KT being silly. KT was directly inspired by Dilla on this one. After listening to and marveling at how Dilla somehow took Jeffrey Osborne’s voice out of the sample for De La’s “Much More” WITHOUT filtering out the music/instruments (producers/heads know how crazy that is) KT wanted to try it, I think he did an excellent job. As for the lyrics/hook, just messing around. Wanted to make a “club” song but still be myself. I didn’t really like it that much but I put it on my first mixtape anyway and everybody in Ann Arbor/Detroit loved it so I had to put it on the album”.
15. “True Colors” ft Now On and Monica Blaire prod. by Lab Techs
“One of Drew’s beats that I had in rotation for a while. I was kinda bored so I decided to write about colors. I wrote the hook, got my brothers Now On on it and knew I needed a female to sing the hook. My favorite singer/performer at the time was Monica Blaire, I asked her to get on it, she was down and “True Colors” was born”.
16. “That Fonk!” prod. by Lab Techs
“It wouldn’t be a Buff1 album if I didn’t have the rest of my body parts on here with me. This was pretty much an AML album but I was the head on this one, but of course I had to have the rest of me on here. The reason I didn’t put “featuring AML” in the liner notes is because AML is not a separate entity. I will always and FOREVER be a member of AML no matter if another CD with any of us on it gets pressed or not. A lotta’ people think AML has a very soulful sound, Tres had the beat and I just wanted to go extra extra with the soul vibe”.
“Me and KT wanted to make “grown men with muscles cry” with this one… “tears”. I don’t think I’m all that good at it but I tried my best at pouring my heart out. KT wanted a Big Rube intro, we tried to get a male poet to do it but it didn’t work out in time so I just did it myself. Got Zo(!) on the help out and you have a fitting end to what I believe to be a classic album!”
“Beat The Speakers Up” (new video)