My original review of this album was based on a single, shallow listen to this album in which I brushed it off as a more pop-oriented effort on the part of Buck 65. However, after taking some time to let it sink in, it has really grown on me and I've really come to view it as another masterpiece on the part of Canada's premier hip hop artist. With 20 Odd Years (named to commemorate his 20 years as a hip hop artist), Buck continues his tradition of incorporating many different genres under the umbrella of "hip hop," but this album sounds like it meets somewhere in the middle of Buck's two previous albums, Secret House Against the World and Situation. While I consider SHATW to be one of Buck's best albums, it is at times very somber and just flat out strange for the casual listener. Situation is Buck's attempt at his own special brand of straight-forward hip hop. 20 Odd Years takes the best elements of both, combining the artsy experimentalism from SHATW with the more upbeat hip hop of Situation.
The opening track "Superstars Don't Love," which appears to be something of an ode to Michael Jackson, would have probably fit right in on Situation and is one of the albums most straight-forward hip hop tracks, along with "Lights Out." Tracks such as "Gee Whiz," "Whispers of the Waves," "Paper Airplanes" and "Who By Fire" (a Leonard Cohen cover) feature Buck's signature blend of country, western, and folk with hip hop. Songs like "Stop," "BCC," and "Final Approach" are amongst some of Buck 65's most pop-oriented tracks. Still, the album features some oddities, like "Zombie Delight," a comical instructional for how to survive a zombie apocalypse driven by a bluesy guitar riff. "Tears of Your Heart" is especially reminiscent of Secret House Against the World with French female-sung vocals accompanied by chamber pop instrumentation and post-punk guitar riffing. "Cold Steel Drum" is an electro-hop piece featuring the vocals of Jenn Grant, and is one of the albums' best songs. "She Said Yes" is another favorite and showcases Buck 65's talent for crafting beautiful, emotionally moving songs, being amongst some of his best of that category.
One of my gripes with the album is the overuse of guest appearances. While a lot of the guest spots are used perfectly (such as on "Cold Steel Drum"), on other tracks Buck seems to be outshined by his collaborator, most notably on "BCC," which seems like a track by John Southworth featuring Buck 65.
All in all, however, the album is very solid and I would consider it up to be high up in the ranks with some of Buck 65's best albums, including Square (my personal favorite album of his) and Secret House Against the World.
My Favorite Songs: She Said Yes, Cold Steel Drum, Zombie Delight, Superstars Don't Love