Bukkweat Bill: Soundtrack to a Life Out of Balance

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“I HATE NATURE/WILDERNESS

RANDOM FAKT”

. . . BUKK texts me one afternoon. I don’t believe him. Since talking to him for the first time around Halloween last year, I’ve learned to file things that come out of his mouth into two different categories: what he says without thinking, and what he says when he assumes people are paying attention. This text message is the latter; it fits into his persona. It’s the character he plays for us and he’s nearly always on set. In other words BUKK, whose name might be a mixed nod to Geto Boyz and the Little Rascals, is fucking with us constantly. Think Jason. Think Lil B. Think 666 all on his face like a mask.

“IT’S DUMB,” he replies when I ask him why he doesn’t enjoy the outdoors. It’s just this kind of simplicity his manager LIL GOVERNMENT is talking about when she says, “The best thing about BUKK is you get exactly what you expect. What’s understood doesn’t need to be explained.” KOOL. He doesn’t like trees and flowers and bees and most plants and shit. It’s dumb. Understood. Shouldn’t have asked him to explain. But, during our initial 30-minute phone conversation, I want to think I saw a little bit more than that from the kid known as BUKKWEAT BILL. Think Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, but less obvious—the duality that exists in all of us. Think vision vs. a need to survive. Think rebellious kid with a bukkake of dreams he’s just trying to get off.

“If you invented a strand

of weed, what would you kall it?”

(I inquire early on during the preliminaries.)

“KOYAANISQATSI.”

 

BUKK THE ARTIST

Felton Joseph Jr.—the baby, the youngest one, in a family of all boys, save for his cool-ass mom—isn’t really Florida-born. He spent the first three years of his life in Galveston, Texas.

“They say I’m like the outcast,” BUKK offers. “In my family everyone mostly played sports, or went to the army. I’m the one who did music.” In fact, he’s been playing around with instruments since age five or six. “I played drums since I was a real little kid and that led to me making beats in high school, like around ’05.” His father, a musician, played a huge role. “He would force me to play the guitar. He made me like music, but he made me hate the guitar.”

Don’t get it confused. BUKK isn’t merely a purveyor of the mindless, based movement. He also enjoys a certain composer and film score maestro, whom he expresses a healthy obsession for.

“I get more influence from like movies and other art forms and shit, not really people, but Phillip Glass is dope. I’ve watched Koyaanisqatsi like twice.”

*****

It’s a hot as all fucks day in Florida. I can feel it through BUKK’s end of the phone. On my side it’s 40 degrees in Kentucky. He’s just told me he’s sitting on the porch with the rest of his crew, the Bukkake Boyz, and I’m about 100 percent sure he’s stoned (this is confirmed when BUKK texts me later to ask if he sounded stupid in our phone interview. He informs me he was way too high).

I, on the other hand, am sober as fuck. For future interviewers: a 4pm phone interview with this guy is impossible; he probably woke up 10 minutes ago, so you’ve dialed in mid-Wake & Bake. Getting in-depth responses is like pulling gold teeth.

Unless, you find a way in. Ask him about his mother or his daughter and he forgets about playing the horror flick role. You might even realize how much you have in common with a 23-year-old Hesh-as-fuck, self-described southern rapper who hangs out of old skools by his black Chucks for fun and rebelliously screams “666” enough to be #1 on any Republican senator’s hit list.

“I just called her and told her she could do something for me real quick, just kind of freestyle something. It was dope,” BUKK says in reference to the sample of his mother on “K-2,” a song off the self-produced 8886 EP (with the exception of one Softwehr track). At the end of the song, she speaks on her son as a child and his trajectory as an artist, Black Album-style from a mother’s perspective. When asked if his mom is scared by some of his images and music, he says with a laugh, “she fucks with it. She’s more about the beats than anything.”

*****

Initially, I’m intrigued by the promo video for the 8886 EP, which pays homage to the New Smyrna Beach area code “3-8-6.” This is when I see who BUKK really is.

In the visual, he is lip-syncing to “400 Degreez” by Juvenile and bouncing around on a mattress beneath neon-trap-yellow lighting. His freeform are dreads everywhere, he gulps lean, re-positions a fat joint from lip to fingers and through the air. The scene is weird and beautiful and Drake has nothing on his “rapper hands.” This is where I figure out BUKK loves music like me. I’m immediately transported back to the 10-year-old girl me, with a shoe box full of cash money CDs and I realize this is the sound trap music is reinventing now. I suddenly want to be dumb inebriated, turning up with BUKK for the ’99 and the 2000.

“There’s something you brought to my attention on that last question,” Bukk says from his Volusia County porch 800 miles away. It’s a moment in the otherwise dull conversation that makes me sit up abruptly at my kitchen table. “I’m super passionate about music, but at the same time, like you said, I don’t like labeling shit. I’m just making shit. Most people are organized and know what they want to do, and know what their sound is, but I don’t really think about all of that.”  At first, I think to argue. His sound is highly original, especially his eerie production. Then I realize, this is what goes through the mind of most true artists, this is where I begin to think of him as one.

 

BUKK THE PROBLEM

Koyaanisqatsi is a Hopi word, which means “life out of balance”; a more direct breakdown translates to “chaotic life.” Fitting.

Think young black men in Florida, and then try not to think about the two who got shot in 2012, one for walking while black, and the other for playing his music loud — shit BUKK does daily.

“I grew up here so I’m used to it. I try not to dwell on it, but shit’s fucked up,” he says about his home state. He blatantly avoids the subject, but no worries because Sanford is a whole 39 minutes away, and Jacksonville, an hour and a half south.

No matter that BUKK is stopped frequently on the streets of New Smyrna, and arrested for nothing more than these seemingly normal activities. He even recently released a selfie exhibit of 10 of his own mug shots via RTs on Twitter, displaying an array of hair styles and facial expressions, from deep-in-thought to full-out grin. He was released from jail only a few weeks before we first spoke, after doing a bid that cost him his whole summer. The environment has to feel hopeless. It’s probably what inspires statements like the one he sends me via text:

“I’M SAD RN

I WANNA DO DRUGS

TILL I FALL ASLEEP”

 

“Which drugs?

I’ve only done alcohol, reefer,

coke, pain pills”

(responds the investigative journalist in me.)

 

“I DID ALL THOSE SINCE

4 PM TODAY

JUST FOR THE RIDE

DOWN HERE”

Further in the conversation, I learn BUKK is stuck somewhere in Broward County, trying to get to a studio in Miami. It’s rumored that he’s been working with fellow-Volusia County native DIPLO, who has expressed his fandom of BUKK in subtle ways. Too bad his ride this far seems to have suddenly stopped giving a fuck.

“Really, lately, because I just got out of jail, I haven’t fucked with a lot of people, honestly.” Feelings of disconnection: typical loner-artist shit, I sit listening and psychoanalyzing back at my kitchen table. I ask him if he’s mad because no one came to see him during his bid.

“Naw, that wasn’t it. It was me not really fuckin’ with them. I didn’t really talk to anyone but the mother of my child 80 percent of the time I was in there.

 

BUKK THE DAD

I’m one of those people who usually think babies look like underdeveloped science experiments, but Olive von Joseph has to be thee most flawless baby, with thee best name, I have ever laid social media eyes on.

“I was in jail and them niggas was watching Easy A,” BUKK explains the origin of his daughter’s name, who is only a few months old. “The main character was Olive. I got on the phone with her mother.

When I ask BUKK about his comments in a previous interview on wanting to join the 27 Club he seems uninterested. In fact, most of the phone interview, I find myself wondering if I’m talking to the person who has previously been accused of Satan worship and whose self-professed top-3 favorite movies are Devil’s Rejects, The Shining, and Natural Born Killers.

“I said that shit before I had my kid, you know? Now it’s like I don’t even want to deal with that anymore . . . Before I had her I was like fuck it. I kept everything to myself. But I need her. You know what I’m sayin’? That shit that I talked about, it wasn’t just an image thing. I really meant it . . . all triple-6 on my face and shit.

Surprisingly, BUKK speaks about his latest time doing time in a positive light. He refers to it as a reminder. He’d been there before, too many times, he reasoned with himself while on the inside. This could be his last chance outside.

“It was like, nigga are you gonna go back one more time? You are really doing something right now, so if you come back, you might BE BACK. It was probably the best thing that could’ve happened to me, to be honest. I got rid of my probation and shit, so it’s all good.”

 

BUKK THE FUTURE

Time travel to the first quarter of 2014 and BUKK has already been picked up and has spent a weekend in jail at least once since we spoke (it’s hard to keep up with his ever-eventful TL). He’s also put out hella music: “Kawasaki Tires” and “Dope White” with Djemba Djemba; “Kake for Bread” and “Pipe Down” produced by DJ TWO STACKS, the latter of which featured the white girl rapper with that crap-ass eyeliner Kreayshawn; and most recently a bonafide hit, “Judge Judy.”

I remember him last telling me about the EP he was working on right after he got released: Lockdown at 11—an ode to his curfew in jail, where he says he only filled up one notepad . . . not a lot by his standards. It seems he does organize his ideas into concepts, after all, which is evident in his newest releases: the Peter Piper remix, Judge Judy.

*****

I haven’t heard from my charming friend in over a month when he texts me one night, randomly, with an exclusive preview:

“WANNA HEAR THE FULL

JUDGE JUDY?

USE HEADPHONES

OR SPEAKERS

AND THANKS”

 

“Word. I’ll hit you after I listen

I lie unintentionally.”

I lie about hitting him back, not the listening part. I listen and I listen again. How hard is that beat? And he rides it worthy. There are some for-sure-pull out lines: I don’t wanna talk, you a blow pop, sucker . . .  Every time an old head speak I listen/ I don’t wanna hear it but I always pay attention . . . and then this anaphora in the middle of verse 2:

I can sell a brick, I can sell a shirt

I can sell a pig, I can sell her

I can sell brain to a nerd

I can sell a plane to a bird

Sure, like every BUKK track, it’s messy. His voice is annoying. There are flaws, but they’re the kind that make you feel relieved— Maybe, I should just tell you how you’re supposed to listen to this shit:

Take your dreads down, forget you’re in your body. Let your eyes disappear into your head, and mouth the words with a joint seesawing in the corner of your mouth. Pack into an old skool with four of your homeboys. Pull this track out like it’s a CD in an old shoebox with scratches all over it from playing it so much, then turn up. Turn this shit up and ride around your block over and over again until the song is over. Put it on repeat.

Ride past the jail you’ve sat in too many months, too many days of your daughter or son’s life. Make sure the subs are on because that’s where this sort of beat belongs. Dare a pig to follow you. Pull into a gas station hanging out of a window. Dare a muthafucka to tell you to turn your music down. Ride down a street in the suburbs, one hand on the wheel, with your hood up, popping Hot Cheetos and Skittles into your mouth. Wash that shit down with an Arizona Sweet Tea. Now, just bop, wish . . . just wish a muthafucka would even think  . . .

Think Deep South. Think Florida. Think Chaotic Life. This time as BUKK is rapping “I’m a die screaming for the police,” ride off into a hot-ass sundown with the Jamaican woman at the end yelling in patios…

“WE NEED JUSTICE! JUSTICE, WE NEED, JUSTICE. WE NEED IT.”

The Mixx Magazine Guest Writer Section. Where creative thinking is turned into words.