By Jessica Helen

He goes by Dukez Obama. Not really, but after listening to BUFGOD, you might want to start calling him that. Buffalo‘s own Mamadu Kargbo’s BUFGOD is an international concept as much as it is a grassroots project. His hustle is presidential. One can’t really expect anything less; the rapper’s been overseas on European tour. He’s been played repeatedly on college radio. He’s done a lot in his short time on earth and the city respects and responds to it. That list includes the roaster of A-team beat busters that were a part of this project: Nat Wheat, Shuteyes, Jhart, Daringer, Relevant, Cee Gee, Frigid Giant, and Addverb.

The album keeps you wide awake at the jump off. “Don’t Know” featuring Vinci is ill; I’ve always been a fan of gamer beats. I hate to make the comparison, but I hear some Yung Joc in Vinci’s voice. I’m okay with “Bossman” contains some classic lines.  “I know the problem with you f**ks, it’s that you’re worthless. Put the bar super high, give you purpose. No interior design, but it’s curtains.” They tell me to be with broads, I tell them I’m too specific. Specifically ’cause I’m so futuristic with all the spittin’. I’m back and forth to the future, they’re Marty McFly visits.”

The introduction in “Golden Kiss” sounds a whimper. Mad Dukez as he compares her lips to fine wine and crushed grapes, almost like he’s struggling for something more to say. He gains more confidence speaking to his dream girl as the song progresses on. To me this song sounds like an artist falling in love with his muse, a motif that repeats itself throughout art history and literature  subtexts. Visually, Gustav Klimt’s “The Kiss,”  that famous Venetian painting made of gold leaf, is brought to my attention. Klimt was “The Master of Gilded Beauty.” Mad Dukez is certainly a g  Ray Charles with Ragtime and a little bit of Peanuts’ Charlie Brown and Michael Faudet make guest appearances.  “Took me away, restarted my mind. Serenity, it took me…to the heights that we climb.” Each verse could be isolated and recited as a line of poetry.

In “Homage,” the hi hat segues into this real grimey echo chambery gong pinging bass. And, was that a pager going off? I don’t know, but everything about this song is sly and I can get with it. “The BUFGOD coming, made it an event. Tell her that we’ll rough it out, I can pitch a tent. New two seater, already took a spin. New leader of the new school kid” is how you start a song off right.  You can hear expression in his voice. There are very few rappers that can pull this off, gesturing through their vocals.

We hear a little bit of the international flair with the track “Josephine Baker.” Mad Dukez and Josephine Baker share some things in common. Mad Dukez conquered the European audience on tour. Escaping indignity, Josephine Baker shocked, delighted, and dismayed her European audiences. She was just as much of a mother/parent as she was a performer. So is Mad Dukez. The sound mixing on this track is appreciated and the cartoonish/party rap verse from N007les is an unexpected but entertaining sidebar. A Carlos Santana or other is on the guitar. The arrangement is sexy enough without losing the masculine side. The song is written with a woman in mind without sounding like it’s intended only for a woman’s ears.

There are many other tracks I deem reviewable. “BUFGOD Anthem” is written in a wispy, free falling style. Mad Dukez just riffs and the crux of all his explaining is laid out on the table for you. I specifically love the drums in this. The “F.L.Y. Freestyle” reminds me of the part in “The Getdown” where Zeke and Shaolin are on the rooftop/pigeon sanctuary. They let the caged birds free. The dialogue between the two is priceless. They ultimately arrive at the conclusion that your passion is your natural purpose. When you pursue that natural purpose, you’re flying. This is what this song makes me feel like.

There were points in the album where Dukez voice sounds cracky, and it was a little hard on the ears, where he reaches outside of a rhyme scheme. The singing throws me off a little. For instance, “All I want is” sounds slightly awkward only because I’m not use to hearing the MC in this format. I give him props for committing to the crossover, though.

BUFGOD is a pinhole in the mammoth-sized body of work Mad Dukez has stashed away in his personal library. It is a paramount project, nonetheless, marking his freedom as an artist working independently on his own label. After all he’s been through, “God” is a crown he can wear.

If you like this review why not check our previous review of Agency’s PolitiKARAMA

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