Let's Call It Now: Buffalo Black's Debut Is An Early Local Album of the Year Candidate.
Last week, without much hoopla, Dallas hip-hop artist Buffalo Black released his first LP. And upon listening to the first notes from the very first track, it becomes obvious: This self-titled release doesn't sound like any other current Dallas hip-hop production. Instead, it holds its own as an impressive inaugural alternative hip-hop album with influences reaching far beyond Texas and even hip-hop itself.
Maybe, just maybe, this is why Buffalo Black's release came somewhat quietly. Buffalo Black just isn't a name you see too frequently on local hip-hop bills.
But, to hear the rapper tell it, he's OK with that — for now, at least.
Jamil Kelley, the man behind Buffalo Black, describes his music project's pseudonym as representative of the vagabond, the outlier and the “man with no name” archetypes of Akira Kurosawa and Sergio Leone films. When conjuring Kelley's on-album persona, think Clint Eastwood circa Fistful of Dollars riding into town ready to exploit its goods.
In fact, listen carefully to the LP's first track, “Initiation,” and you'll even hear a hint of influence from Ennio Morricone, who composed Leone's famous Spaghetti Western trilogy's score.
Beyond the production elements, though, it's Buffalo Black's vocals that stand out. Kelley has a well-developed and polished delivery. When he's at his best, his flow isn't all that dissimilar from Schoolboy Q's. He's confident and charismatic. And, on this debut LP, he brashly announces his presence.
This is a dark, heavy, melancholic and spiteful release. Kelley's quick to say that he's heavily influenced by acts such as the electronically-minded Flying Lotus, and it shows. But, though his new album's tracks also feature influence from such disparate genres as witch house and glitch, this album remains hip-hop to its core.
The release's standout track — and the album's best use of each aforementioned quality — is “Enter The Void (Black Hole),” in which Kelley shows off his strong, symbolic songwriting skills with a darker-than-anything-else-on-the-album beat and lyrics that allude to the power of lust. The haunting chorus, meanwhile, just hammers all of this home as Kelley exhibits best here his album's pure concentrated emotion.
To say the least: It's an impressive debut. And, dare we say it, an early frontrunner for 2013 Dallas album of the year.
Stream the release in full below or download it for the cost of your choice right here.