[13 March 2007]
On the song “Ready Now”, when rapper Bukue One (pronounced “Boo-Koo” One) challenges our collective embrace of the “paper chase”—the daily grind that exalts raking in cash over creative, intelligent music—I don’t think he’s diminishing the importance and necessity of cultivating a lucrative hustle. On the contrary, this California Bay Area talent is an entrepreneur, having established his company, Urban Productions, in 1998. Urban Productions thrived as a record company and tour management firm, networking with renowned artists such as the Hieroglyphics, Blackalicious, Acelyone, and Del the Funkee Homosapien. Describing himself as “having a blue collar work ethic with executive skills”, I have no doubt he’s cool with making money. Bukue’s intent, as he explains throughout the album, is to inject some “party” music into the cipher and, as he says in “Everyday”, the mission is to “resurrect the vibe formerly known as fun”. He wants you to chill and relax, to have some relief from life’s stresses.
From this, you might think this guy is on some ol’ party and bullshit kick, but that’s not it. Bukue One promotes two basic hip-hop axioms:
(1) Artists should make money through hip-hop, but they should also love hip-hop.
(2) “Keeping it real” and “Having fun” don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
When it comes to loving hip-hop, Bukue One’s own life is an example. As an emcee, a graffiti artist, a manager, and a skateboarder, the man is an all-around b-boy. Rumor has it he even bowled a perfect score in one of this league match-ups. Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about.
Intromission presents 19 tracks of joyous, life affirming hip-hop. Now, I know that description sounds like an advertisement for a line of greeting cards, but Intromission is a long way from that, really. As for blending “real” with “fun”, Bukue One is comfortable enough with his rhymes and beats to share his views, yet ambitious enough to reach beyond the mundane. His presentation is musically diverse, with plenty of big bass for your boomin’ system, plus an international flavor thanks to a touch of dancehall and Bukue One’s preference for producing the album in Germany. The flavor is enhanced by a line-up of producers (Ph-7, Flaps, Ammbush, DJ Melrok, DJ Marius, Krutsch) and cut specialists (Mr. Sinista, Ross Hogg, Zac Hendrix).
Topically diverse, the album explores subjects like spirituality (“U Make Me High”), deception and betrayal (“Deceived”), the intrinsic value of graffiti art (“Beautiful Crime”), and the economic realities of the music biz for independent artists (“Workitout”).
I’m not advocating an anti-“gangsta” position here. And I’m not suggesting that Bukue One should get props merely for being “positive”. Rather, Intromission works because the songs are good, the concepts are tight, and the emcee is believable. Although I fully intend to press “skip” on a few tracks (like the overly dramatic “Writaz” and the dreary “Deceived”), Intromission promotes balance and individuality in hip-hop. Who can’t enjoy that? Instant favorites are “Majah Knock” (that’s “Majah” as in “Major”), “Dangerous”, “Workitout”, “Murder Sound”, “Beautiful Crime”, and the almost ten-minute posse masterwork, “Freal Version Ride”, featuring Abstract Rude, Del, Ammbush, Mikah 9, Motion Man, EMC.