Alex Lappano talks about his musical side: Buck Chase

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Photo by Vanessa Mata

“I’m trying to keep it different from the rest,” Buck Chase raps in “Head High,” an effervescent self-motivational hip-hop number doused in a retro, old-school vibe. The lyric speaks for it self, almost as if embodying the rapper’s musical sentiment to strive for distinctive colours. His first mixtape, released just last month, boasts that concept effortlessly.

Buck Chase, or better known to some as second-year Radio and Television arts student Alex Lappano, initially started out as a rapper “just for fun.” Joined by his close friends to form a crew back in high school, his solo project as Buck Chase began not too long after his first semester of university. “I found out that one of my buddies started doing his own thing down in Alabama,” he says. “I saw what he was doing, and I immediately knew that I wanted to do the same.”

The rapper recently released his first mixtape titled “I Am John Carpenter.” Taking cues from inspirations like Drake, Kanye West and Jay-Z, the rapper merits his audacious charisma, bold lyrical haughtiness and genre hopscotching. He is a force on the tracks, from spitting fierce rhymes over trance-esque synths in “Look I Made It” to even showcasing a bit of vulnerability in “Remember Us All.” Throughout the nine-track mixtape, Chase manages forge an irrepressible persona.

Buck Chase’s musical landscape is distinctive and clear. For him, there are no struggles in finding a clear direction between various extremes. Instead, his philosophy of moving forward with added confidence and is his ultimate artifice.

Q&A with Buck Chase

Q: What are some artists that inspire your music?
In terms of my lyrics, I’d say Jay-Z and J. Cole. I don’t like to stick to a certain sound in my music. I always like to have a bit of variety. But I would definitely say Kanye West and Drake are influences in my music.

Q: Let’s talk about your first mix-tape that you just released: why the title “I Am John Carpenter?”
Originally, I didn’t have a solid direction in what I wanted for the mixtape. But one day, I was looking through YouTube and I saw this clip of a contestant on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, John Carpenter. He already knew the answer to the $1 million question, but he used the life-line anyway to call his dad so that he could hear him in that winning moment. I wanted to conduct my self like him: pure confidence and a little bit of cockiness [laughs]. The message was that no matter where you are, you have to be the best.

Q: What was the creative process in creating the tracks like?
I don’t write the music first. Instead, I always listen to the beats first, and should one of them catch my attention, I start from there. I write based on what I hear, and what I’m striving towards is variety. I guess the feel of the beats give me a clear direction on where the songs will go. When I worked on the songs with the producers, the process was very spontaneous. We made the songs according to the vibe that the beat had. At the end of the day, what I feel sort of gravitates me on how the song will turn out sonically.

Q: Did you have any conceptual ideas that you wanted to portray, or a message you wanted to get across through the mixtape?
The stuff that I was doing in grade 12 is very different from the mixtape. Back then, most of it was very fun and hardly serious. But I feel like on this mixtape, I strive to showcase different flows and a much more lyrical side of me. I think I was also able to incorporate my personal life in the mixtape as I drew a lot from what was happening to me at the certain moments in my life.

Q: Are there any tracks on the mixtape that particularly standout for you?
There’s a song on there called “Look I Made It” which talks mostly about my self, how I’m trying to balance out school and music and the effort I’m putting into it. There’s another called “Head High. It’s very motivational with an old school beat. I dove into my personal life a bit on that one.

Q: Do you believe there are advantages in being a rapper/artist in Toronto?
I find that there are a lot of advantages now. A few years back, everyone went to New York to get their name out there. Now with Drake blowing up, everyone is actually coming to Toronto. I know a guy that produces for Toronto artists in the GTA. He goes to New York from time to time to do shows, and most of the people there acknowledge Toronto and it’s reputation for hip-hop artists. I think a lot of that has to do with the success of Drake and other Canadian acts that started out from the city.

Q: Who is, in your opinion, producing some of the best hip-hop in current times?
Kanye West and Jay-Z definitely. I also like Kendrick Lamar and definitely Drake. Every time he comes out with something, it never disappoints.

Q: You just released a mix tape last month. What’s next in Buck Chase’s musical agenda? Where do you plan on going from here?
Right now I’m waiting for school to die down. The next thing for me to do is to get people to hear my music. I’m going to try to send it to school radio stations, as well as school newspapers and what not. I’m trying to get a student base going with my music. So in that sense, I guess next year will just be a lot of promoting. But I always have a lot of big things in my head. When the second mix tape comes out, it’ll be a breakthrough type thing.

Listen to Buck Chase’s mixtape “I Am John Carpenter” here.