No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn, Won’t Quit ‘Til I Hit California Part One

busdriverIn this series, I’ll be taking a look at my favorite rappers from different regions of the U.S. This week, I’ll be starting off in the west coast.

Any kid who grew up playing the game Tony Hawk’s Underground (or visiting a friend’s house for the express reason of playing their video games) is familiar with this tune

Busdriver – Imaginary Places

How unforgettable is that? The dizzying flow over the Bach flute sample, the laugh out loud punchlines, and a brief breakdown serving as an introductory class into teenage rebellion. Like a lot of people, this was my introduction to the L.A.-born Regan Farquhar, alias Busdriver, veteran of the Project Blowed collective and my personal favorite of the west coast scene. The album from which this track was pulled, Temporary Forever, was one of my very first hip-hop purchases and proved to be quite formative on my budding mind. Opening with a sample from the cult movie Repo Man (see this movie or we can’t be friends), it pushed me face first into a world of double-double time flows, cutting wit, and damned funny raps. You’ll never see him sacrificing insight for comedy, but you can definitely catch him riffing on inner city violence in the same tone Bugs Bunny laments his own death on Gun Control. 

If this was all I ever got from Busdriver, then I’d be happy, but I sure as hell wouldn’t be doing this write up. The next release of his I picked up was his 2003 collaboration with rapper Radioinactive and producer Daedalus, known as The Weather.

The Weather – Pen’s Oil

This was my first exposure to experimental art rap. The “throw everything we got at the wall and see what sticks” beats didn’t seem to fit any kind of flow, but the two emcee’s accomplished the seemingly impossible. Half concept album about fictional famous boy band The Weather, half madcap trip around the globe, your mileage is going to vary on this one. It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea (and it definitely took me a while to click with it), but I’m confident that anybody should be able to find something to like about it.

Next up, here’s a song from what I would call my favorite release of his, 2005’s Fear Of A Black Tangent

Busdriver – Happiness’s Unit Of Measurement

This album puts a skill on showcase that I appreciate in any artist: Venom. This whole record is dripping in it, both directed at others and himself. There’s a certain quality in venom, it’s not just wild wanton hatred. There’s a direction in venom, knowing who the target is, what they did, why that’s wrong, and what you’ll do about it. Busdriver is naming names here and his own name is among them. This album came after his brief flirtation with the fame garnered from getting your song in an extreme sports game in the early 2000’s and has all the bitter attitude you’d expect to come attached. The humor is still on display, but he’s not giving his targets as much slack. He’s not above taking shots at the audience, either. Just look at the track Map Your Psyche featuring artists Abstract Rude and Ellay Khule:

We’ve mapped your psyche, we know what you’ll do before you do, packaged it nicely and sold it to who feeds off the style

No one’s safe, and nobody ever was.

This is all well and good, but we want some blatant brags, right? We need our rappers telling us how good they are and how much every other rapper sucks. Surprise, Busdriver has you there too. Check out his 2011 collaboration with fellow Hellfyre Club member, Nocando, “10 Haters”, under the group name Flash Bang Grenada

Flash Bang Grenada – 10 Haters

This thing is wall to wall bangers. The two emcee’s are in sync and have their tongues planted firmly in their cheeks as they point and laugh at any who would dare question their supremacy. Clever rhymes combined with fantastical boasts (“I can teleport, ho”) is a surefire way to my heart.

Finally, I want to direct attention to Busdriver’s latest album, 2012’s Beaus$Eros

Busdriver – Kiss Me Back To Life

This was a genre bender. Busdriver boldly defies anyone who would dare put him in the hip-hop box. Produced entirely by Belgian electronic artist Loden, this album splits time evenly between introspection on the topics of love and fame and blatantly calling out aging rappers (again, himself among them).

This is an artist whose next release I’ll always look forward to.  He owns a catalog that I would recommend to anybody who even half asked. Is he the best of the west? That kind of question is above my pay grade, but he’s definitely my favorite from the golden state.

– The Froond