Local Ottawa hip-hop duo Buck N’ Nice have released their debut full-length project Us Versus Them. Buck N‘ Nice consists of Rapper SawBuck and producer and DJ So Nice. The album is entirely produced by DJ So Nice save for the song “Same Old Me” which was produced by Qualified Pros (So Nice and Circa Beatz).
The album begins with an introduction to SawBuck delivered in autobiographical form titled “To The End.” SawBuck wastes no time letting the listener know where he’s coming from, and where he’s trying to go. The track features DJ cuts by So Nice, and is backed by a dreamy guitar-laden instrumental. Before allowing any time to take a breath, SawBuck goes directly into an onslaught of flow on the album’s second song “Not The Same As ’Em.” The horn-laced beat leaves plenty of room for Buck to fill the gaps with syllables. The fourth song on Us Versus Them features Ottawa rapper City Fidelia, and boasts a sung hook, and some great references from SawBuck (Seinfeld, Maury). The album’s production takes a turn to the moody on the album’s fifth installment “Changing Season.” This is the type of song producers listen to twice, the first time you listen to the beat, the second time you actually listen to the lyrics. The song is a powerhouse not only due to So Nice’s production but the song itself is something I won’t ruin for you, because listening to it blind is the best way to hear it first. The next two songs on the album, document SawBuck’s childhood experiences. It may seem counterintuitive to place two songs with similar subject matter next to each other but they couldn’t be more different in production and content, almost like two sides of the same tale. The album features numerous songs whose primary function is to exhibit SawBuck’s lyrical prowess and So Nice’s production ability, but also a number of concept songs, mood pieces, and clever riffs on cultural memes. The album finishes with the song “So Strong For So Long,” a song about a failing relationship used as a metaphor for SawBuck’s relationship with hip-hop. The song works as a great closer in contrast with “To The End.”
DJ So Nice’s production features plenty of influences, and I don’t just mean samples but also production techniques. The album features everything from classic boom bap drums, to the relaxed drums heard on “Party Lights” and “What Was Wrong With Me.” The song “Just Want People To Love Me” features Tragic of Philly Moves and is a disco-influenced piece, while “Dumb Heads” featuring Corbin C. sounds like it could be part of the Castlevania soundtrack. The album also features plenty of DJ cuts by So Nice, who is not just a producer but an accomplished DJ as well. So much of what makes SawBuck and So Nice such a great duo is how well they make fully fleshed-out songs. This is even more apparent when you get a chance to catch them live. They are equally synergistic on stage as they are on record.
Us Versus Them is an example of why good things come to those who wait. In an era where it can be so easy to make and release music, waiting to release your debut album can be a daunting task. Buck N’ Nice have put together and released a real full-length project that takes no shortcuts. The album Us Versus Them is available here and you can catch Buck N’ Nice live at their dual CD Release Party with Flight Distance, releasing their High Priests of Low-Life, held at House of Targ November 22nd with support from Tukan.