Rob Campbell
Miles Raymer
September 02, 2014 AT 03:49 PM EDT

Rapper Buck 65 has made his name on dense wordplay and music that pushes against expectations of how hip-hop should sound. Choosing to concentrate on abstract metaphors and dropping odd country-rap fusions years before “hick-hop” became a thing has kept him closer to cult status than mainstream success, but for his latest song and video, from his upcoming album Neverlove (out Sept. 30), Buck offers a glimpse at what might have been if he’d pursued a more pop-friendly route.

“After my wife left,” he writes in an email, “I met a girl who I was hoping would give me hugs and kisses. I was a bit desperate for affection. I figured I might get lucky if I made a song she liked, so I asked her about her taste in music. She listed off all the things she likes about the music she dances to in clubs and I wrote it all down. I still have the piece of paper. She mentioned lyrics with ‘la la la’ parts, four-on-the-floor beats, classic house music, mentions of birthdays and getting dressed up, ‘build ups,’ as she put it, shiny synth sounds, breakdowns, ‘rainbows’ (I wasn’t sure what she meant by that), and lots of hooks. It all went into the blender.”

“Most of the lyrics in this song came from a dream,” he continues. “I also experimented with running lines through online translators several times. I’d write a line, translate it to Chinese, back to English, back to Chinese again and repeat until it comes out sounding sufficiently absurd. I’ve also used some lines from badly subtitled bootleg movies I’ve bought on DVD during my travels abroad. I’ve been inspired by Dadaist art, things my nieces have said, things I’ve misheard people say. On and on. It’s very difficult to just think up things that are total nonsense. I’ve tried and failed many times.”

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