featured interview

Buff 1 The King of Purity Known as a member of the Athletic Mic League, a 7-headed rap formation from Ann Arbor, Michigan, Buff1 is the first of the group to step up front with his first solo album 'Pure'. Behind the music on this debut we have the infamous Lab Techs, Waajeed of Platinum Pied Pipers and G-Unit's Mr Porter (known better by his stage name Kon Artis) pushing Buff1 to a new level in his career, supported by guest MC's Elzhi (Slum Village), Guilty Simpson and One Be Lo. We had a word with the real star of the show.

In the first track you describe from the perspective of a struggler how to stick to the pure essence in (your) life and music. At the end of the track you really expand it to the rest of the game by stating ?you got the cure for hip-hop?... ?Pure? also being the title of your new cd... so please tell us what you understand by ?Pure Hip-hop?, and what you did on your album to give the game something which is still pure...

Pure hip-hop to me is anyone making music from the heart and clearly caring about the art-form. Some people would say people like E-40, T.I. or Lil Wayne is not pure hip-hop but I disagree. I think they are the essence of pure hip-hop. I can?t relate to some of their subject matter but they bring me into their world and they present it well. And they talk about their struggles as well as their material things and triumph and I feel that. On my album, I put all aspects of my life out there, upbringing current surroundings, politics, humour, women, all that. And at the same time I give people metaphors, wordplay, different flows and patterns, all that too.

?Pure? could as well be expanded to ?purism?, which often got a nostalgic co-notation. Are you a purist or nostalgic?

Yes and no. I enjoyed the past eras of hip-hop a little more than right now but that doesn't mean I want to take it back to then. I want to make the memorable, classic hip-hop music of this era. My people's Now On just did a video short on their Myspace page (www.myspace.com/nowon) about ?taking it back?. No one before us was trying to take it back so we shouldn't either. Appreciate and study the past but whether you're purist or all about the hustle we should all be trying to innovate.

Purism could as well be created by a fear of renewing oneself... agree?

Yes. That's what I love about Outkast. They're never afraid to renew, innovate and reinvent themselves or the music they create.

What exactly is the diff between the collector's edition and the normal, retail edition of your solo album?

Not too much, they have different covers. The collector's edition cover is exclusive. The new version's cover is from the inside of the collector's edition. Also, the collector's edition has a bonus song from my crew the Athletic Mic League titled ?The Way I Do?. And the new version is enhanced and has a downloadable version of my ?Small City, Big Name? mixtape.

The collector?s edition album cover pictures you as a King (cf ?The Kingdom? track with Elzhi), but - as opposed to a ruling king - you really be sitting there head down, kinda striked out. What's the message behind that contradiction?

You know what they say: ?Heavy is the head that wears the crown?. (laughs) Naw, there really wasn't anything behind it, just a good picture, but it can interpreted however people want to interpret it.

You quote King Jaffe, so you?re a fan of ?Welcome To America? we assume?

YES!!!! One of the greatest movies of all time!

King Tee, King Sun or King Just?

A fan of all those kings as well (laughs)!

'Much Better' is really an excellent ode to hip hop (in the female metaphor way like Common's I Used To Love Her). You and One Be Lo describing Hip Hop as your guide in life to keep it going. Are there points in your life of which you can say hip-hop really saved you or directed you?

Not saved but definitely directed me. It helped me decided what I wanted to do in college and how I approached education. It also helped me through my break-up with me ex-girlfriend.

If hip-hop makes it so much better, do you achieve to pass that feeling to your audience by serving them your ?pure potion??

Yes, I want to help people through their experiences, good or bad, the way hip-hop is with me through it all.

?So what's your plan when there ain?t no songs making us dance, and we ain?t able to laugh?? (Pretty Baby). Are you worrying already that this day will come? What can we do to prevent the world from that day?

I'm not worrying that this day will come but I acknowledge that it's a possibility. What can we do? Try to fix things from the ground up, schools, the education system, and get some people in the government that really care. And pray.

'House of Horrors' is a very impressive political track. When you ask to ?fight back? and to ?put fists up?, it's really a demand for revolution too. Do you feel like music is the premium medium to move and teach people?

Yes, I do. The way I approach songs like that is summed up in a quote I heard 2Pac say. I may not be the next Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. or Malcolm X but I can influence the next revolutionary. That's what I try to. I takes a lot to be a true revolutionary, I'm not quite sure I have that in me or not, but I do want to be a part of the movement.

Also in 'House Of Horrors' you claim that it has been worse also before the Bush (JR) administration... but could you give some examples of presidents that really fucked up as much as Bush?

I'm not sure anyone has screwed up as much as him but it?s not like things just got bad when he became president. Especially for minorities and the impoverished. We all know the crack epidemic came when Reagan was in office. Black people and people in the inner-city in general are still dealing with the effects of crack.

So when you're voting, you don't vote for Republicans nor for Democrats?

I vote Democrat. I just had to drive a point home that Democrats aren't the saviour. We have to take responsibilities in our own hands in rejuvenating and rebuilding our communities.

The murder rate in Detroit is the second highest in the country after New Orleans...what are some of the main reasons for that and how can violence be abandoned in Detroit and do you believe tracks like ?House Of Horrors? can make an actual difference?

I don't know the main reasons for that, probably too many guns, period. I hope ?House of Horrors? can help. I want Black people to hear that song and realize that Bush is not in the hood shooting people in the head over a girl or a traffic accident. That's us doing that to us. That's why I say ?We jumped off the pedestal and hung ourselves with the devil's rope?.

?My brother said I rap better when my heart is broke? you say in 'For U', so when you're feeling real good it's rather difficult to rap at a higher level?

Ehhh, nah. That's just how my big brother feels about it! (laughs)

Do you try to pursuit different emotions and different moods in order to rap better?

Nah. I've really only done that a couple times. One time is on an AML song of Jungle Gym Jungle, ?Heartless?. Other than that, I just go.

How did you come to call yourself Buff...were you an unconditional fan of the Fat Boys?

(laughs) You are the first person to realize and mention that one of the Fat Boys' name was Buff. Nah, my last name is Bufford. My nickname was Buff before I started rapping when I played basketball and it just stuck. Add the 1 and you have a very non-creative hip-hop name (laughs)!

What was the first record you bought?

(Bewildered) Woooooo!!!!!!! Raekwon ?Cuban Linx?!!

Do you listen to contemporary rap often? If so what cd's are in your deck right about now?

Yes. Umm, Right now? E-40 ?My Ghetto Report Card?, Slum Village ?Fantastic vol.1?, T.I. ?Urban Legend?, Sa-Ra ?The Hollywood Recordings?. That's all I can think of right now.

Please introduce yourself to the readers who missed the Athletic Mic League period...

Well, let's see. I was born in Atlanta, GA. Moved to Ann Arbor, MI when I was 3, all by myself (laughs). Met this group of guys in high school. We all loved hip-hop, sports and women. We started a rap group called the Athletic Mic League in 1997. Put a TON of material, then they told me to do some solo stuff in 2005 and here we are.

The AML material is critically acclaimed. Did you set your standards to those albums for ?Pure??

Of course, we make classics. I didn't want to recreate anything we've done but I knew I had I standards to live up to.

AML is six heads strong how come you're the first one to go solo?

It's 7 including DJ Haircut, when he's not somewhere being a superstar (laughs)! We're all team players. I guess they chose me because I'm the best mix of all them. Charisma, flavor, flow, content, stage presence, sex appeal (laughs)! That was a joke.
So how did you experience making this album on your own compared to recording with your crew?

It was tough at first but once I got into the swing of things it was a piece of cake. You're in URB's Next 1000, does this mean anything to you? Like 1000 is a big number or do you find it still an honour?

1000 is a whooole lot of people, but it's cool to be acknowledged.

On the Asideworld website you're rocking a German soccer training vest, was that after a performance in Germany or just because you're a fan of the German Mannshaft?

(laughs) Neither, I just like the jacket.

Tell us more about Aside...

A bunch of my friends including the group Now On decided they wanted to start a company dealing with marketing and promotion and digital distribution. No other labels wanted to mess with me so I went with my fam.

So besides you there's Now On...could you tell us a lil bit more about them?

They are dope! We're all from Ann Arbor, they stole Haircut and moved to LA (laughs)! They make forward-thinking hip-hop, hence the name Now On, which I gave them! IX Lives and Jax were in a band called Funktelligence that sort of came to an end and they wanted to create music with the production side of AML, the Lab Techs. They came to us, I gave them a name and the rest is history. That's fam!

Talking bout fam you also have tight bonds with Subterraneous Records, how come?

Because they weren't too cool to show love. We're been supporting each other since about 1998. Lo (of Binary Star) wanted us to be a part of the Sub crew actually. Along with Nick Speed (G-Unit producer), Elzhi and everyone in the crew. That didn't end up happening but we've stayed down ever since.

Please say hello to Tiffany Paige from me. Goddamn she has a hot voice. Where did you find her?

I met her through my boy Zo! He played keys on ?For U? and previous AML work. He hooked us up and we got to work!

What more can we expect from you and yours?

Classic Material. I'm not putting a tag on any particular sound or style, just know that whatever you hear from me, AML, Now On and the Lab Techs will be classic material!

Shout-outs?

Now On, A-side, AML, and everybody that helped me put my album together, you know who u are! Peace and love to everybody all over the world! ... OH! And shout out to platform8470 for the interview! Some of the best questions I've ever got!

 

POSTED 06|01|2007
conducted by cpf & wulf

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