Remember Young Buck, the Nashville, Tenn., rapper who was rollin’ with G-Unit tough and was omnipresent on the group’s multi-platinum Beg For Mercy album? It’s okay if you don’t. The man born David Brown has been incarcerated for more than a year and finally came home a few days ago. Before he began serving his bid, Buck was involved in a bitter feud with 50 Cent, who famously recorded a phone call in which Buck was hysterically apologizing to him. Fifty being Fifty then made sure the hip-hop media and blogs had a field day with the Southern rapper.
Dragging Buck through the mud was personal for Fif, who loaned Buck money and didn’t exactly bail him out when he was embroiled in financial troubles. He did the exact opposite, refusing to allow Buck out of his G-Unit contract, thus hurting Buck’s ability to sign elsewhere.
While his appearances on G-Unit albums – with the exception of the underwhelming T.O.S. (Terminate On Sight) – proved most critically and commercially successful, Buck has been incredibly prolific. Buck’s work ethic is impeccable. There are literally hundreds of songs – 52 projects’ worth of mostly mixtape material – to be found for free streaming on Spotify (Of course, most of them didn’t get the proper marketing that his G-Unit or solo albums did; they also feature mediocre production). That total number accounts for Buck’s platinum G-Unit/Interscope debut Straight Outta Cashville and its follow-up, 2007’s Buck the World, which this writer gave 4 out of 5 Mics in The Source Magazine.
Needless to say, while Buck isn’t the only high-profile rapper to be released from prison recently – Ja Rule is out out, too, and working on TV and film projects – he is the most underrated. Fans and hip-hop media outlets alike seem to lack long-term memory, and in today’s 140-character instant news cycle, it is what it is. Once upon a time, however, Buck was well-respected, his potential tremendous. He had the rawest voice, street cred and, as the youngest, livest wire of G-Unit, he was on his way.
That is, before things derailed. Legal drama aside, there are are some classics to behold in Buck’s trove of a catalogue, and with his release from prison, we wanted to take a moment to spotlight ten of them.
1. “Slow Ya Roll” – Buck the World (2007).
If Buck’s jarring lyrical content won’t leave you mesmerized, Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington’s soaring hook will. The haunting narrative that Buck spins here is comparable to Tupac Shakur’s most poignant work, such as “Brenda’s Got a Baby” and “Dear Mama.” While Buck was clearly influenced by the late legend and drew those comparisons, this song stands apart as evidence to back them up.
2. “My Buddy” – Beg For Mercy/ G-Unit (2003)
The ‘buddy’ referred to here is a gun, and G-Unit’s references to those are pervasive throughout his catalogue. There is something particularly ominous yet musical about this song, and Buck’s verse in particular. In terms of poetic metaphors to describe guns, this song even sits above Nas’ “I Gave You Power” in sheer projected emotion.
3. “Buck The World” – Buck The World (2007)
The title track from Buck’s sophomore album on G-Unit/Interscope features Lyfe Jennings’ brand of prison soul. The authenticity is felt, not just heard.
4. “Beg For Mercy” – Beg For Mercy/ G-Unit (2003)
A decade after its release, the multi-platinum Beg For Mercy album still sounds as powerful as it did upon release. The title track is no exception.
5. “U Ain’t Goin Nowhere” – Buck the World (2007)
Let’s not lie: West Coast songstress LaToiya Williams – the hood Deniece Williams, if you will – makes this song. With purely seductive vocals, she is a perfect match to soothe out Buck’s rough edges.
6. “Let Me in” – Straight Outta Cashville (2004)
Buck simply sounds convincing here. It’s a statement song on the rookie album from a Nashville rapper who’s been tutored by New York’s best, and it sounds like it.
7. “Prices On My Head” – Straight Outta Cashville (2004)
Buck is a street rapper at the core – let’s not forget he stabbed a man at the Vibe Awards for disrespecting Dr. Dre – and this song is all about that street life. Yet it was included on a platinum album, meaning it was more than embraced by mainstream fans.
8. “Stunt 101″ – Beg For Mercy/ G-Unit (2003)
This was an early street single ahead of Beg For Mercy‘s release. It whetted fans’ appetites and got them accustomed to Buck, Lloyd Banks and 50 Cent.
9. “Shorty Wanna Ride” – Straight Outta Cashville (2004)
This song has the most plays on Spotify out of everything in Buck’s catalogue, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the reason: ladies love Buck. His true-to-life, live-wired thug persona has something do with it.
10. “Wanna Get To Know You” – Beg For Mercy/ G-Unit (2003)
What can we say … G-Unit’s Beg For Mercy was an undeniably great album. This smooth number featuring Joe received substantial urban FM radio airplay and was one of the two R&B-flavored tracks on the album that paved the way for Buck’s solo success, however brief.