July 25, 2010

Reader Review: Bike For Three! - More Heart Than Brains (May 26, 2009)

(Even money that most of you two have never heard of this shit, so here you go: Today's Reader Review features TheOtherNewestOne chatting up Bike For Three!'s debut project, More Heart Than Brains. Keep reading for further explanation, and leave some comments for him below.)

Bike For Three! Is a duo made up of a rapper and a producer who haven't ever really met each other (at least as of this writing); they met online and collaborated on their debut project, More Heart Than Brains, by sending mp3s back and forth to each other.

You probably haven’t heard of either half of this duo, so here’s a little background that I was able to scrounge up off of Wikipedia: Richard Terfry, known to his parents as Buck 65, is a Canadian underground hip-hop artist, MC and turntablist, who has been dropping albums since 1995, most of which are classified as “abstract hip hop” (whatever that means). The other half is made up of Belgian producer Joelle Phuong Minh Le, who lives under the stage name Greetings From Tuskan. Unfortunately, that’s all I’ve got on her. (I told you it would be a “little” background.)

More Heart Than Brains is their debut album, released in 2009 on the Anticon label that Buck used to be a part of as a solo artist.

It’s only a minute long, and it consists of just sound. It's better than your usual rap album intro, though.

I have no idea where the vocal sample at the beginning comes from. That said, the beat on here is fucking nice. In fact, the beats on this entire album are consistent both in sound and quality. The lyrics are pretty solid, as well: if only I knew what he was talking about. I believe the song is about a relationship turned sour (a running theme throughout More Heart Than Brains), but he talks about it in such an obscure and cryptic way.

Fantastic. This song actually has a decipherable meaning! Another solid instrumental, perhaps simpler than most of the album, although I may only be reaching that conclusion because this is so drastically slowed down when compared to the previous track. The actual rapping on here is pretty good: the wordplay could be a little more fun, but Buck 65 isn’t Busdriver or anything, and I wasn’t expecting insane speed raps when I bought/stole/appropriated More Heart Than Brains.

I have no idea why the title is compressed into one word. Yet another song in which the true meaning takes work to discern: the car crash theme is evident throughout most of the track, but certain parts stray from the theme. Anyway, this beat, Buck's flow, and his rhymes are fucking sick. Also, most rap songs that continue on long after the verses have ended usually piss me off, but on here it works out well, especially given what Buck does with his voice. Despite the unclear meaning in certain parts, this is one of my favorite songs on the album. Fucking amazing.

And we're back to a slower beat on here. I like what Buck does with his voice when he says “kiss you slow.” The rapping here…well, there really isn’t any, it's more like spoken word poetry over a beat. There are a few parts with rhyming, sure, but for the most part this isn't much of a rap song. But I still find it to be a decent song. Certainly not one of the album's best, though.

A cool, very liquid beat accompanies Buck on this track. That’s all I’ve got. Good, but not earth-shattering.

Contains the weakest beat of the whole of More Heart Than Brains. Not to say it isn’t good, but while I've noticed how the instrumental really meshes with Buck 65's vocals on every other song, it just doesn't happen here. Despite this handicap, Buck has a decent flow here and proves to be an incredibly good storyteller.

Fantastic beat, but overall, this track is pretty repetitive, and it lasts for far too long (the ending is made up of the chorus, recited over and over for about forty seconds).

Dark and somewhat haunting musical accompaniment join Mr. Terfry on this song. His rhymes might not be at their best here, but his flow is still pretty good on this very surreal track. The best line here is probably, “Blackbirds fly backwards. Something to look forward to”, mostly because of the delivery. The whole song is just odd and basically consists of sentence fragments strung together. The English teacher in me does not approve. But it was still a good song.

The beat starts off okay enough, but gets much more involved with time. However, I didn’t pay much attention to the instrumental, as Buck is just awesome on here. This is a fantastic song about an expectant father wondering what his daughter will be like, a reflection on his own childhood and how he should raise her. Lyrically, this is one of the most impressive songs on the album, even if the rhymes aren’t exactly RZA-quality material. (Personally, I've never found The RZA to be one of the premier lyricists of our time, but I'll let that comparison slide.)

It’s probably a bad sign for the health of my psyche that I laughed at Buck’s line, “Dead dogs, new tricks.” With that said, the song is pretty good. It is in no way memorable, though, and that could be perceived as either a good or a bad thing.

Yep, this is a cover of an MC Shan song. I’m going to stop for a second and let that sink in. Yes, a cover song. In hip hop. What the fuck?! (This isn't unheard of, you know; it's just rare these days, when everyone with a pad and a pen thinks they can string rhymes together. I think the fact that there are cover versions help lend credence to hip hop as a lasting musical genre. But I'm getting preachy here. Back to you!) There is absolutely nothing new here, as the beat is essentially a higher-energy version of the original and the lyrics are exactly the same. I understand wanting to honor your influences, but this amounts to straight-up plagiarism.

The concept here is interesting, but the track was pretty average overall. Oh, what’s that? You wanted more explanation? Well, too bad.

This title track was cool. However, there isn't a lot of rapping, so although I loved the beat and the computerized voice, I doubt that most hip hop heads (let alone most of Max's two readers) will particularly enjoy this. Oh well, at least it leads into the next track.

A nice instrumental to end the project. Nothing more, nothing less.

FINAL THOUGHTS: First of all, I'm grateful that More Heart Than Brains has no annoying bullshit rap album intro: the first and last tracks serve a musical purpose. When I first heard about Bike For Three! and this project, I swear it was described as a concept album regarding love and relationships, and though I can no longer find reference to that on the web, it certainly helps place the lyrics in perspective. Buck 65's lyrical style is oddly surreal; he has an unrivaled ability to tell a story and his word selection is very poetic. I am a huge Buck 65 fan, but even though he is quite amazing on here in parts, the star of the More Heart Than Brains show is truly Joelle Phuong Minh Le: her beats provide many of the most memorable parts of the project, particularly on the first third of the album. Also, she goes by the name Greetings From Tuskan, which I think is a Star Wars reference, which is fucking awesome. Then again, I might be wrong, but I prefer to think of her in that fashion, so I will.

BUY OR BURN? This is an absolute, never-have-been-so-sure-of-anything-in-my-life purchase. Even with minor quibbles and the ridiculous MC Shan cover (I mean, seriously, what the fuck?!), this is a fantastic fucking album.

BEST TRACKS: “Nightdriving”; “Can Feel Love (Anymore)”; “Lazarus Phenomenon”; “First Embrace”


(Questions? Comments? Concerns? Leave some notes below.)


  1. the beats were cool, but couldn't get past his rapping. his voice really bothers me... like i said, beats were solid though.

  2. In re-reading this I saw I typed RZA when I meant GZA. Whatever. Also, my problem with the cover isn't so much that it was a cover, it was that it was such an unimaginative cover, that I might as well listen to the original. It's all good and dandy to pay homage, it'd just be nice if he put a little of himself in there, too. Make it original.

  3. eliteghostJuly 26, 2010

    How exactly do you make a good rap album intro? I agree that many of them are terrible but even I'm trying to figure out what I'd expect/want out of an intro.

  4. Listened to it based off of your review, thought it was pretty good. Good review

  5. Oh, and Eliteghost: I guess what I meant was it wasn't full of the usual "I'm so fucking great, look at me" bullshit. That's always a plus. Also, I think Greetings From Tuskan/ Joelle is fantastic behind the boards. Like a female RZA. That's probably an exaggeration, but, whatever.

  6. AnonymousJuly 31, 2010

    sorry this album not good

  7. flyingWill777August 09, 2010

    not a "fantastic fucking album", but still pretty good. not for the faint of heart and ear.

  8. I'm not normally a huge rap fan, precisely because of all that ""I'm so fucking great, look at me" bullshit. But I couldn't agree more with your "This is an absolute, never-have-been-so-sure-of-anything-in-my-life purchase" rating, ridiculous cover versions aside, I've never heard another album as beautiful and lyrical as this, nor do I expect to many more times in my life.