Buckshot and 9th Wonder: Chemistry

Pierre Hamilton

Black Moon's commander-in-chief, Buckshot, makes a close-to-classic return to prominence with the help of Little Brother producer 9th Wonder.

Buckshot and 9th Wonder


Label: Duck Down Music
US Release Date: 2005-07-12
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon affiliate

Who asked all these golden-era emcees to return to the game? Not I. And I wish, though it pains me to say it, that some of them stayed put in the past. Have you heard the new Fugees song, "Take It Easy"? It won't be easy to force that from my memory banks. But the first time I heard Chemistry, a joint venture between Black Moon's Buckshot and Little Brother's 9th Wonder, the phrase 'a close-to-classic revival' sprung to mind. This is why.

Buckshot barely made a ripple on the collective rap consciousness when Black Moon dropped its debut album, Enta Da Stage, in 1993. Still, he wrote some classic underground hits in "How Many MC's" and "I Gotcha Opin". Both evoked the menacing scowl of New York's underground music noir with criminally-minded tales that left listeners in gloomy soundscapes. It was all NYC then, back when Brooklyn's Boot Camp Clik (a crew that included Black Moon, Smif 'n' Wessun/Cocoa Brovaz, Heltah Skeltah, and more) owned the underground.

But this is not the Buckshot of old, and yet it is, which shouldn't confuse you. Lyrically, he's still tight on the mic, weaving standard rap braggadocio throughout his patented blend of ghetto observations. It's engaging stuff, though no where near as engaging as a Nas or Biggie. Over the years though, something — maybe the mere act of ageing — wore away at his more nihilistic tendencies, revealing an MC unwilling to perpetuate his prior gangsta lifestyle. So who better to collaborate with than 9th Wonder, a producer with a hard-on for the old school and a hankering for social consciousness.

Now we've got the gun-clapping emcee who once said, "I'm just a crazy maniac murder a murder type thinkin'", calling for beefs to be settled with the fist instead of the pistol, "Now A Dayz (That's What's Up)". The 9th Wonder beat stutters like the Duh Duh Duh Man from New Jack City then creeps around the block in cruise control. And when Buck hits you with the hook: "They don't use fists now, they rather use clips / On the streets now all I see is this / Everybody got something to bust, but if you real than you real, knuckle up," you really get a sense that this older, wiser Buckshot has renounced his former life.

9th Wonder crafts his beats to best accentuate Buckshot's conversational cadence. His soulful melodies, those staple muffled and artificial-sounding drums and thick basslines never outshine the MC, allowing Buckshot to snarl his way through the album's best tracks: "Chemistry 101", "Slippin'", and "The Ghetto". But, and this is a warning, most of the beats sound the same: variations on the same minimalist theme. I don't mind it. You shouldn't, either.

Near the end of this collaboration, the disc becomes a Little Brother record. The equilibrium that marks the album's best tracks shifts as Rapper Big Pooh and Phonte drop by on multiple tracks. Joe Scudda and Keisha Shontelle turn up on others. It doesn't ruin the quality of the whole, but the production for the last few tracks differs radically from what preceded it. For what it is, a comeback album for an emcee that has languished in obscurity, this release had me hooked harder than a dope fiend.


The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.