The Bay Area has long hosted one of the countryâ€™s most diverse and vibrant hip-hop scenes; it’s maybe the only community that could conceivably sustain personalities as contradictory as Too $hort and Boots Riley, Mac Dre and Hieroglyphics. For Oaklandâ€™s Bukue One (born Tion Torrence), the only common denominator in all of it is the “independent hustle.” “Here,” he says, “they make whatever they make and put it out the best way they can, without waiting.”
He should know: as the longtime manager of fellow Oakland resident Del the Funky Homosapien, Bukue has spent over a decade nurturing a solo career in his off hours. The son of parents active in the Black Panther Party and a father who sang backup for Marvin Gaye, he has been rapping since the late ’90s, when he did a stint tour managing and “soaking up game” with Aceyalone in Australia, promoting the L.A. rapper’s classic A Book of Human Language. This summer, Bukue released his first self-produced album (available for free download at bukue.bandcamp.com), titled, appropriately enough, #Autonomy.
He says he approached the record “as if I were releasing it in the mid-’90s, in my golden era of loving hip-hop,” an ideal that rarely makes for the most exciting music. But unlike most backpackers and trad-rappers, Bukue has a strong sense of humor and perspective and is thus free of the pompous retromania that often weighs down such efforts.
Having learned plenty from his own industry dealingsâ€”and from his dadâ€™s bleak encounter with the darker side of Motown (“All of them were straight thugs,” he says)â€”he views his own music as a passion project, a personal, rather than a commercial, endeavor.
Like what you just read? Support Flagpole by making a donation today. Every dollar you give helps fund our ongoing mission to provide Athens with quality, independent journalism.