It’s been nearly 10 years since Skratch Bastid (Paul Murphy) went head to head with Buck 65 (Rich Terfry) at the DJ Olympics. It was a much talked about turntable battle with a classic “old guard versus new” fable. That was 1999. And now in 2007, the two have come together for an album about 1957 that marks a solid return to Buck 65’s hip-hop roots.
Situation is not so much about that year’s events as it is about the idea of an era of change, and a source for Buck’s usual tales about cops, pin-ups, hobos, poets and junkies. Although he name-drops people like Allen Ginsberg, Bettie Page and Che Guevara, the songs are more film noir than documentary, exploring environments and ideas that are usually left to art-films or graphic novellas---or to someone like Tom Waits (an often-cited comparison).
The most striking thing about this album and songs like “Way Back When,” “Spread ’em” and “The Rebel,” in particular, is that Terfry is inventive while maintaining a thematic familiarity, avoiding the calls of “we heard that before” that plague many artists around as long as him. But equal props should go to Skratch Bastid---a masterful producer and turntablist in his own right---who keeps things fresh with the most diverse and propulsive bedtracks Terfry has worked with since his days with Sixtoo.