For a short period in the early 90's the parallel worlds of hip-hop and skating went askew and converged. At the time both were still perceived by the mainstream as antisocial behaviors and temporary fads. Hip-hop was not "real music." Skating was not a "real sport." In 2006, these perceptions couldn't be further from the truth, as both disciplines have become fully integrated into the mainstream consciousness, not to mention multi-billion dollar industries. Somewhere along the way their paths diverged and these days they have few intersections even though they remain brothers in spirit. Yet there are some who walk among us that remember those days when hip-hop was an integral part of skating. Tion Torrence, aka Bukue One, is a product of that confluence of underground currents. In Bukue's hip-hop dictionary, there are 5 elements: rapping, djing, breaking, graffiti, and skate boarding. Intromission is the extraordinary album of a true Bay Area original, who in a single leap can pull a 360˚ kickflip, throw up a graffiti burner, and spit a tight verse.
Bukue One grew up straddling the border between Berkeley and Oakland, California. The dichotomy of the leftist college town and the gritty streets of The Town manifested itself musically in Bukue from an early age. "I watched early skate videos that featured music from punk bands like Bad Religion and Black Flag, but my friends were listening to NWA and Run DMC." He was also surrounded by music courtesy of his father, who was a backup singer for Marvin Gaye's touring band. Being a somewhat naïve preteen, he didn't see any contradiction in listening to such dissimilar genres. Living in the East Bay instilled a political consciousness in Bukue from a young age; his parents were both active members of the Black Panther party. So by the time Bukue was entering his late teenage years, he was socially conscious, a talented skater, and a renowned graffiti artist. His love of hip-hop had yet to translate into making music however. Bukue's entry to the hip-hop game came in the form of a live event production company, whose goal was to merge his love of skating and hip-hop. In 1998 Bukue's company, Urban Productions, organized a 4 day hip-hop/action sports festival in San Francisco featuring an a-list of artists, b-boy crews, djs, and skaters such as The Hieroglyphics, Artifacts, Style Elements, Rock Steady Crew, Shortkut, Apollo.Pro, Mike Carroll, Henry Sanchez, and Mike York. Afterwards, Bukue expanded his business into a record label and tour management firm. En route to Australia as tour manager for Aceylone, the hip-hop muse struck Bukue, resulting in "4 Tha Graff Heads", an ode to graffiti culture. As luck would have it, the art of graffiti was in vogue Down Under, and Bukue had a minor hit on his hands. Bukue saw that he could combine his business skill, hustle, and passions to make a sold living; a philosophy cum lifestyle that he has practiced to this day. "I'd like to think of myself as having a blue collar work-ethic with executive skills."
Intromission is Bukue One's first proper album. His previous recorded work consists of a series of mixtapes, including The Last Starfigher (2000). The material for the mixtapes came about on Bukue's many stints as tour manager/ performer with the likes of Blackalicious, Aceylone, Roc Raida, Abstract Rude and Del the Funky Homosapien (whom he also manages). So even though Bukue has been in the rap game for almost 10 years in one way or another, this will be most people's introduction to his work. "Intromission is all about reintroducing good old party hip-hop to young kids. It's me saying that it's okay to dance and smile; there's enough anger out there these days. I'm a party-rocking emcee." This is not to say that there is no substance to Bukue's songs. The 18 tracks on the album reveal his diverse musical and topical influences. The single, "Majah Knock" is an ode to the legendary bass-heavy west coast sound. Bukue knew it would be his single the moment he heard it, but it took a minute to convince producer PH-7 to boost the bass "up to West Coast levels." On "Ready now" Bukue showcases his roots reggae influences, musically and lyrically; "Why do we so heavily embrace the paper chase that wasted space and time? /When did all the madness begin? / Where do we go from here?" The majority of the album was produced in, surprise, Germany. In Bukue's tours through Europe, he developed a love for the sound that German producers were turning out. "The hip-hop culture in places like Berlin and Hamburg now is like the US in the late 80's. In Germany, people are making music to make true hip-hop, not to get rich." Tapping different producers known for their signature sounds allowed Bukue to make an album that incorporates his assorted styles. Krutsch has the reggae, dancehall, and classic hip-hop sound down pat. Flaps is a master of a funky, spiritual sound tinged with a 70's blacksploitation feel. PH-7 provides the straight bangin' hardcore boom-bap. Through all of the stylistic changes, Bukue's flow keeps the album consistent.
This is Bukue One. Emcee, Graffiti Artist, Skater, and Hip-Hop Entrepreneur. So the next time you're at a show and the emcee finishes by ollieing off the stage and skating through the crowd to sell his merch and sign autographs, there'll be no doubt as to what you've just experienced. Chances are that you'll be sweaty from dancing and hoarse from signing along. Bukue One has just completed his intromission as the defender of the five elements of hip-hop.