April 26, 2023

Buff1 - Pure (2007)

Country: U.S.A. 
Genre: Hip-Hop 
Label Number: ASW2002

© 2007 A•Side Worldwide
Hip-hop has long seemed conflicted -- while often held to a certain standard of artistic integrity, the music is constantly affronted by an unrelenting temptation to sacrifice the latter for a wider fanbase. Thus amid these opposing forces poses a formidable challenge for rappers to thrive without completely losing themselves in an industry-manufactured façade. But as a spiritual and self-aware MC, the self-proclaimed "Athletic Mic League King" Buff1 understands you can never go wrong by staying true to yourself, and his solo debut album, Pure, serves as his brilliant mission statement while seeking to answer the nagging question: "What is ‘real' hip-hop?" The answer is subjective, really, and Pure distills the beauty of hip-hop's ambiguity through its sincerity. Buff unabashedly asserts his human complexities in the opening title track, setting the tone for the rest of the album: "I write novels /I write dramas/I write comedies/I write violence/I write down what I feel/From right now until I lie down in the ground/With my crown and shield." As indicated, Pure is poised between being serious and fun; not too conscious but not too frivolous or aloof. The inherent braggadocio in hip-hop shines through on the standout "Slick," wherein Buff conceits over a groovy bass line, shimmering piano riffs, and DJ cuts and scratches courtesy of DJ Haircut (now widely known as Mayer Hawthorne). On the definitive standout "Big Thangs," Buff brazenly reps his hometown of Ann Arbor, MI, rendering a sense of pride in small city dwellers over chopped vocal samples and a sparse instrumental backing. Delving into the more socially conscious realm, "Pretty Baby" is a self-empowering number with delicate violins, jazzy horns, and a soulful sample loop, while the politically charged "House of Horrors" finds Buff getting rebellious to menacing drums and eerie harp riffs. There's hardly ever a dull moment on Pure, but even the ones that feel slightly curbed are still cohesive and far from deficient attempts at filling the gaps. As Buff sums everything up, "Is this real hip hop? Is this pure hip hop? Who knows? Who cares? If you feel it, then it's real. If you feel it, then it's pure. If it's pure, then it's for you." Simply put, Pure is for the people -- the vehement hip-hop enthusiast and casual rap fan alike.

 * Due to past abuse, comments for the Hip-Hop section have been disabled. 

 tags: buff1, buff  1, pure, 2007, flac,