featured interview

Buff 1 There's Only One There's no one single doubt that one of the most amazing albums of this year is Buff1's latest sophomore album 'There's Only One'. One to cherish, one to learn from and one for the hip-hop annals, the album showcases Buff's lyrical prowess, that's one of a kind, and production by the Beat Technicians who are taking it one step further than your favourite producers team. After being spinned for the one hundred's time, we confronted Buff, member of Athletic Mic League, with a track list rundown...

Wassup Buff1? First of all I want to congratulate you with the new album.

Thanks homie.

Just like with 'Pure' you succeeded in making an effort you can listen to from front to back. Is that something you are missing these days: albums without the 'filler'?

Yeah, I certainly miss those days. But I'm not complaining about it, I'm doing my part right now.

There's been a relatively short time span between 'Pure' and 'There's Only One', was it a matter of the hunger being so big or the feedback from 'Pure' being so overwhelming that you wanted to keep the buzz going?

AML and A-Side wanted to keep the buzz going from 'Pure'. And I was confident in my ability to create in a short amount of time so we went with it. And in reality, it was a good calendar year from when I wrote my last verse on 'Pure' to when I wrote my first verse on 'There's Only One'.

'Pure' received lots of positive feedback, which must've given you more pressure for 'There's Only One'?

No, I didn't doubt myself at all. The feedback made me more confident. I know people are going to say/feel whatever they want so I can't think about that when I create. It's in the back of your mind but I make music for me first and foremost, and if I like hopefully others will as well.

You seem to sound a little more arrogant throughout the album (no pun intended). As if you succeed in showing your grown confidence without braggin-n-boasting all the time. How you've experienced that 'growth'?

I actually didn't notice until late in the process! (laughs) I think it's a result of continuing to work on my craft and getting better, and the feedback for 'Pure'. I listened to what I said and was like 'I'm sounding pretty cocky on here'! But oh well, I've been doing this 15 years and I feel I can back it up, plus that's hip-hop right? (laughs)

Track List Rundown.

01. 'There's only One'

The perfect introduction track: Buff1 is new and improved and still 'King'. Is that what you meant with the quoted 'One Life One Love So there can only be one King'?

It's actually not really about me. I kind of started to shy away from the 'king thing' because that's not really how I feel away from the mic plus everybody was claiming king of something, away from the mic I'm 'a king amongst many kings'. Like I said on 'The Kingdom' off of 'Pure', we're all kings and queens. I even gave my crown to my mom. If you listen to the intro I say 'no throne is equipped for what this moment gives', saying that it's bigger than being king. It's about life as a whole. Also you only hear the word king once in the quote. The first time it says 'king', then I had DJ Graffiti cut 'king' out of the second one, then on the third I had him hit the pause button on the word 'king'.

Your logo is rocking the king's crown as well. What is it that attracts you in the symbol of crowns?

Wes T of Colorblind Creative came up with that logo, I just went with it because I thought it was cool.

'Heavy is the head that wears the crown': does the crown get heavier as your career grows?

Not really. Of course the more people that start to get into your music, the more people start to hate, but I'm ok with that. (smiles)

02. 'Real music'

'I hear the beat, then I just see the words, I don't even think, man, it's second nature rhymin'. What is it in a beat that gets you inspired? I mean, how do you manage to transfer a certain 'abstract' feel you get from the sound into a concrete subject matter and theme?

Honestly I can't even explain it man, that was me trying to explain it when I started that second verse! (laughs)

Do you always start with a beat or would you hop on a sightseeing bus with a pen and a pad to get inspired as well?

83.4% of the time it starts with the beat. Occasionally I'll have stuff that just comes to me or comes from a conversation or something on TV or a life experience.

If we fit the album title on this track one could state: 'There's only one kind of music for Buff1'. What should that music incorporate?

Electroenergysoulfromdaundergroundupyadig?!

03. 'Beat the Speakers Up'

This banger track stands tall as a complaint against radio stations and is at the same time the first single and probably the most radio-friendly track on the whole album: why this kind of 'irony' of ambiguity?

Just because! Why not? It's just to challenge people and to show that music is infinite.

'In a market flooded with garbage, I'm like Noah's Ark'. Noah had a whole bunch of animals on his ark; who or what would the animals be on your ark and where would you take 'em?

(laughs) Ummm, I'm taking everybody I know, all the hip-hop lovers and a couple mountain lions for protection. We'd go to Stankonia then to Hip Hop Heaven.

04. Dream Streets

It's great how you lay the first verse down with everything rhymin on Taco Bell and Lobster Tail. How long did it take for you to get this fit so perfectly?

Not long at all, that was one of the easier verses to write on the album.

For me this is probably the track that touched me the most with the first listening. It has - as you rhyme yourself - mixed emotions in it. If I analyze it well, I could feel a kind of escapism (anger) and admiration (love) for the streets at the same time. What of both overpowers the other and why?

Good analysis. Love always overpowers anger. Hope always overpowers pessimism. That's what I want people to get out of that song.

What will it take for the streets to get your dreams and wishes become reality?

We just have to 'do'. Simple as 'do', stop talking and 'do'. It starts with a dream then that dream has to become actions.

05. Man Up

It was actually the first time I heard the word 'caker' in this content. Who came up with this concept?

Vaughan T!!! This was his vision, beat and hook. It stems from one member in AML, that will remain nameless (laughs) going through similar stuff that we talked about in the song.

'You got that ass on lock and the keys thrown away'... Are you afraid of getting in this position at one point of your life?

Well, in this case Vaughan was addressing a man who thinks his girl is being faithful when she really isn't. In the big scheme of things, yes, I'm a tad bit afraid of getting married but I'm nowhere near that in my life. Once I'm ready I imagine it won't be as scary.

06. I know the Secret

The track uses a Dilla sample ('Bounce in your whip with that real live shit'). How did he influence you?

He was/is the greatest. His beats gave me a feeling like nothing else could.

At the same time the sample reveals the secret: 'they want it live'. Did Dilla play a role in you finding the answer?

I learned the secret from performing and watching others perform. Those that get the job done and those that don't.

07. The sky

You seem to fall in love, but at the same time you say 'but I never fall in love, no!'. Is it you doubting or being afraid to go for it or rather you just being surprised you do fall in love again?

I'd say it's more surprise. I love 'love' but I'm still a little afraid of commitment. I'm working on it.

08. Classic Rap

How important is it for your fans to study the game? Why do you believe those 'basics' are so important?

I think it's kind of important for supporters but I think it's more important for rappers to study the game. It just makes for better product. If you don't study in school you fail.

You're artist and fan at the same time so I imagine you know thousands of albums and artists. 1) How did you run that list down to the artists you mention? and 2) You probably had a hard time keeping the track under 3 minutes?

I really based it on people who put out an album that I bumped religiously. There are tons of people who made a HUGE impact on me and hip-hop but I probably never had one of their albums for whatever reason. I was broke, or it was before my time and before I really started buying albums, etc.

09. Love The Love

When did you start believing in Hip-Hop being your profession?

When I went on tour in the US and Europe.

The track is an ode to the fans as the love you get and the rush you feel. How does (a) the love you get from the fans and (b) the devoted hip-hop-love you've got embodied in your person stay in proportion?

I can always pick a pen and write, whether it's a million people who want to hear it or zero. So as long as there's a beat to write to I'm good. But the people giving me love is an added bonus, that's the icing on the cake!

10. Never Fall

A banger with Black Milk. 'It's safer at the top'... What would you describe as 'the top'?

The top is a mind state, on top of the Jungle Gym Jungle.

How long do you know Black Milk? Do you have plans in the future?

I've known Black for about 4 years. Nothing in the plans but you never know.

11. Rain Dance

In a certain way this reminded me a little (thematically) to the House of Horror in which you also ask the listener to move or raise the fist. How important is music in getting the movements moving? You feel like you have a social role in it?

Social movements are important in general, especially when things aren't the way they should/could be. I just try to use my music the best way I can to help the cause.

Will music make a difference in the end to get free?

Yes.

'The story of the black men in America, they throw us in the trash can after they tear us up'. Could you comment a lil' more on this dope line?

Everything we do is magnified because in America we started out as 3/5 of a human being and now we can make millions of dollars. Those same people who once thought we were 3/5 of a human being have grandchildren and great-grandchildren who own sports teams, own TV channels, own radio stations, own record labels, etc. And if they still see us as 3/5 of a human being they'll do anything they can to make sure we stay in that position.

12. Numbers can't measure

The track states no-one besides you can rate your music, because your music is you and your life. Kind of a slap to the critics and non-believers. Did you have the feeling critics were blah-blah-ing and rah-rah-ing without considering the personal level of your work or...?

This track is really just a defence mechanism to defend against the haters, because I know they're out there!

'Of your radar or in your top ten'... Although numbers can't measure it must feel good that you get mentioned in blog-o-sphere as a top-10 for 2008 already... Do you feel flattered?

Yeah it feels great, but I also know that these same people could turn their backs on me at the drop of a dime. So I take it with a grain of salt.

13. Real appeal

'You hate when I boast, because you know it's true'. I love this line. What inspired you to point it out this way?

Because I joke around with a lot of my female friends about how fly i am, not really how i look but more so who i am and my skills on the mic. They try to hate but they know the deal! (laughs)

You're 'Waiting for her the make the first move', something autobiographical or is Buff1 the one with the dopest pick-up line? (laugh)

Autobiographical, still no game, I'ma late bloomer.

14. Electrifying Music Maker

The online promo banner uses the same adjective. What exactly is 'electrifying'? What does a track need to be that? What does it need to provoke?

It can't feel like anything else you've heard.

15. Goin' Nowhere

6 minutes of straight spitting with the AML homies over a raw beat. Was it long ago you jumped on a track together?

Naw, we did it on 'That Fonk' on Pure.

What can we expect from the League in the near future?

A new album!!!

16. Once

When I heard this track the whole 'there's only one' found its place (in my personal interpretation). Between the power which the word 'One' holds in the very first track, and the vulnerability it has in this last track, there's a whole difference. While in the first track it shows the pride, the word one is depicted here with all its limitations: only one last kiss, laugh, step, life... Is this how you put together the concept? Please comment...

Again, great analysis homie. I didn't really want to make a concept album but I definitely wanted to start with a theme then bring it full circle and tie it up at the end but also put a different spin on it.

There's only One Buff1, There's only one life, There's only one God. Life is a gift which you have to embrace and cherish because for the most things you only get one chance. Do you feel like people cherish those moments enough?

I don't think we cherish those moments enough. We can tell the people we love that we love them a little more. Don't get caught up in this whole "no homo" and "pause" thing that's going on out here. Tell your boys you love them, because if you loose them, that's it.

Shout outs?

Thank you for a very dope interview homie. Shout outs to the Mic League, A-Side Worldwide and Ann Arbor, Ypsi and Detroit. Peace and love!

Thanks for you time

 

POSTED 09|01|2008
conducted by Wulf

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