Buck 65 and Jully Black talk about awards, ambition and the all-powerful Internet

Buck 65 and Jully Black talk about awards, ambition and the all-powerful Internet

The place: Hub Coffee House and Locavorium on Shaw. The people: hip hopper Buck 65 and R&B singer Jully Black. The subject: awards, ambition and the all-powerful Internet

This month, the Juno Awards return home to Toronto—with hip hop star Drake as host—to mark 40 years of honouring Canada’s music makers: Stompin’ Tom Connors and Maestro Fresh Wes, the Tragically Hip and Arcade Fire, and Anne Murray and Avril Lavigne have all snagged prizes. Add rapper Rich Terfry (a.k.a. Buck 65) and R&B diva Jully Black to that list. On paper, the pair don’t have a lot in common: he’s kinda quiet, she booms into a room; he’s from small-town Nova Scotia, she grew up at Jane and Finch; he spits out rhymes, she belts it out like Beyoncé. But, as is often the case when two people sit down together, similarities emerge. In addition to both being Juno winners (he claimed Alternative Album of the Year and Video of the Year, she took home R&B/Soul Recording of the Year), both have gigs on the other side of the mic (she as a correspondent for Etalk, he as the host of CBC’s Radio 2 Drive), both have new projects (his recently released album 20 Odd Years, her upcoming 8ight), both think Justin Bieber is more a sign of the times than a sign of the second coming, and both credit their moms (awww) with much of their success. With the Junos looming (and the snow dumping down), we bought them a drink and listened in.

RT: There’s not really a Canadian sound, and that sort of is our thing. If you go to New Orleans, you’ll hear a distinct cultural sound that’s in all the music, from jazz to hip hop. It’s great, but I can imagine that would be a burden for an artist. We get a bit of everything.

JB: I call it Canadian jambalaya. As far as hip hop here is concerned, we’re getting a lot of Caribbean and African influences. But that doesn’t make it Canadian; that’s just giving it flavour.

RT: I don’t make music thinking about awards. But once you get nominated, you start singing a different tune. Look at Trent Reznor. He’s been very vocal about how stupid awards are. Now that he’s won a Golden Globe, he’s all “You know, it’s kind of cool.”

JB: I love the Junos, especially when it’s on the road. There’s no pretension—it’s like summer camp. You’re all stranded together at a Best Western, and you end up having a drink at the hotel bar with someone totally random. Even Bublé has to stay there. That’s equality.

RT: It’s funny. The Internet has been such a huge factor in the success of Justin Bieber and Drake. People ask me, “How do you think the success of Drake will benefit you as a Canadian hip hop artist?” And it’s like, “Umm, I don’t.”

JB: What about that homeless man with the golden voice? It’s the wonder of the Internet. I use Twitter, Facebook, all that stuff. I understand that it’s all part of my brand, just like working on Etalk. And signing autographs until I get carpal tunnel.

The Juno Awards
March 27, Air Canada Centre

(Photography: Derek Shapton)