For two decades, Buckshot has been thoroughly representing for Bucktown (Brooklyn), NY. As one third of the seminal Black Moon collective, Buckshot (along with DJ Evil Dee and 5ft. Accelerator respectively) helped create one of hip hop’s most important albums of the early ‘90s Golden Era. Their debut album Enta Da Stage quickly became an underground sensation and helped redefine the sound of east-coast hip hop. Buckshot (then Buckshot Shorty) quickly garnered the respect of his peers and fans alike with his aggressive delivery and violent street narratives detailing life in Brooklyn projects.
Although Black Moon occasionally releases new music, Buckshot’s primary focus has been on his solo material. His most notable albums are his collaborative efforts with producer 9th Wonder (Chemistry, The Formula, and The Solution) as well as the legendary joint album with KRS-One (Survival Skills). Buckshot is one of a handful of lyricists that have maintained relevance in hip hop by simply staying true to his self. He has never been one to compromise his style for mainstream radio nor has he made network television appearances a priority. As a co-founder and flagship artist for independent label Duck Down Records, he has helped build and maintain a loyal consumer base which afford him the luxury of releasing music at his own pace and working with artists he likes rather than who’s popular at a given moment.
Backpack Travels finds Buckshot continuing to build on his already solidified legend. Produced entirely by P-Money, this album proves why Buckshot will always be a revered figure in hip hop’s underground scene. On “Crown Intro” Buckshot candidly raps “In the game of life I’ve learned one thing/You can’t turn a rock into a bright diamond ring/A rock is a rock, a diamond is a diamond/Both solid as hell but one not shinin’”, setting the uncompromisingly blunt tone of the LP. Buckshot continues to raise the bar for witty lyricism while challenging his peers on “Just Begun” on which he spits: “Even though they know they’re getting their ass kicked/Some old rappers still wanna compete with the masses/Looking like Muhammad Ali out of his prime/Shorty like ‘He out of his mind!’”
Pro-Era’s Joey Badass and CJ Fly drop memorable verses with Buckshot on “Flute”, while T’Nah Apex and Chelsea Reject hold their own on “Sweetest Thing” and “Clear Light” respectively. Although the first five tracks are decent, it’s the remaining five tracks that have lasting impact. On “Red Alert” P-Money flips Biz Markie’s “Make the Music with your Mouth” beat and Buckshot proceeds to wreck shop: “You’re the type to free load/Free download its all the same shit, I know/Social networks/But when I put my net to work/You so shall get hurt”. “We in Here” features David Dallas and Buckshot trading braggadocios verses over a bass heavy mid-tempo groove akin to classic Beatminerz production.
On “Killuminati”, Buckshot spits hard lines at conspiracy theorists:
“Bunch of clowns in a circus act/On You Tube tryin’ to merge some facts/Wait, tryin’ to earn some trap/And this motherfucker got the nerve to rap?/Fail/So now you on that trail/Of telling these motherfuckers that illuminati real?” P-Money’s fantastic production on this track will have your head knocking thoroughly. “The Choice” and “This is my World” (featuring Steele of Smif N Wessun) close the album out nicely, reminding heads that Buckshot and Duck Down are still a force to be reckoned with.
“Backpack Travels” is a dope album. Buckshot & P-Money successfully created an LP that will appeal to hip hop purists and casual fans of the genre. The only dilemma I see with this project is getting it in rotation on New York’s Hot 97 Radio.
Final Grade: B