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Buck 65

If Outkast's Andre 3000 made it safe for hardened hip-hop heads to embrace their inner, sexually ambiguous Prince, will Canadian import Buck 65 open the floodgates for cowboy hats and Hank Williams cassettes? Hip-hop may run through his veins and into his rhythm section, but Buck's clanky acoustics and gruff, shit-kicker flow point toward dust-bowl balladry and white-boy talkin' blues. Fortunately, Buck's quirky yet richly detailed vignettes help This Right Here Is Buck 65 transcend the novelty of its social and sonic juxtapositions. Songs like "Wicked and Weird" and "Roses and Blue Jays" convey a deep and abiding ambivalence about life's trivialities, a been-there, done-that world-weariness that inevitably draws comparisons to Tom Waits. And while the album culls (and remixes) only Buck's early indie material, it's a great introduction to one of the genre's most challenging and ultimately satisfying artists.

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