Worcester-based comedian Sam Buck may very well be friends with your favorite rapper. Founder and host of the “Bucked Up” podcast — a show with a guestlist that ranges from his fellow New England comedians to underground hip-hop artists like Detroit rapper Bruiser Wolf the comedian was inspired to enter the world of podcasting after a bad break up and the onset of the pandemic lockdowns in March 2020.
“I thought I was gonna move to New York with this girl and you know, you get your heart broken. Shit happens,” Buck said in an interview with The Harvard Crimson. “Two weeks after that, everything shut down.”
The pandemic-induced stay-at-home orders marked a period of deep reflection for Buck, who had relied on live comedy appearances to make a living. The comic said that he created “Bucked Up” as an outlet to promote his comedy and work through personal issues.
“I was going for a self-help podcast where guests give me self-help,” Buck said. “I didn't think rappers were going to be on it. I was interviewing open mic comedians or friends.”
The focus of “Bucked Up” shifted to music when Buck, a lifelong hip-hop fan, found himself with a shortage of comedian co-hosts. “One day, I didn't have a guest,” the comic said. “I reached out to this producer named Freshman Woes because I had more Instagram followers than him at that point and I really loved his music.”
Freshman Woes was Buck’s first musical guest. A few weeks after his appearance on “Bucked Up,” the producer released his debut album “Thank You Rap Gods,” on which he thanks and shouts out Buck. A copy of the vinyl could be seen hanging as a personal memento in the comic’s Zoom background at his Worcester home.
Buck followed up Freshman Woes’ appearance with rapper and longtime Action Bronson affiliate Hologram, who announced his debut album with Cypress Hill producer DJ Muggs during his “Bucked Up” guest slot.
What began as a self-help program has now become an outlet for rap’s most promising underground talent. Since premiering the show, Buck has recorded over 170 episodes and amassed a rolodex of hip-hop heavyweights that includes the likes of Buffalo rapper Conway the Machine and Danny Brown’s Bruiser Brigade. Buck’s success is a result of his tireless travel schedule, changing cities nearly once a week to record his podcast episodes in-person. The comedian goes everywhere by car. “My car is 10 months old and I just passed 50,000 miles,” he said. Buck’s journey has taken him through the hip-hop holy grounds of Detroit, Chicago, Buffalo, Philadelphia, and New York City.
Reminiscing on his travels, he shared that he feels a strong connection to the rap scene in Detroit, despite its distance from Worcester. “I love the Detroit scene,” Buck said. “I wish it wasn't so far. I was with BabyTron last time I was there. I love everything from the Bruiser Brigade to the Hip Hop Lab. Icewear Vezzo to Big Sean. I love it all.” Last November, the comedian was invited to Detroit rapper Danny Brown’s iconic annual holiday celebration, the Bruiser Thanksgiving.
Calling Detroit a very close second, Buck shared that his favorite rap city is actually Buffalo, New York. Many of “Bucked Up”’s guests hail from the modern Buffalo rap scene pioneered by Griselda Records founding members Westside Gunn, Benny the Butcher, and Conway the Machine.
“I'm always for the rest of my life gonna have a connection to Buffalo,” Buck said. “I can't not. It's just an emotional connection. And then there are my favorite rappers: Benny, West, and Con. All three of them are my three favorite rappers. And they're all from Buffalo.”
Last December, Conway appeared on “Bucked Up” in what Buck said was one of his favorite episodes of the show to date. Buck was able to secure the interview with the rapper after inviting several of Conway’s Drumwork Music Group artists as guests on the podcast. Audio from Conway’s “Bucked Up” appearance even popped up on the rapper’s February 2022 mixtape, “Greetings Earthlings,” earning Buck a feature credit on the project.
“It was an interview he loved so much he put it on a track,” Buck said. “He's told me that he sees me being big and sees me being even bigger than I see myself. And like for someone who's like your idol to say that to you? I just tried to give that type of love back when I first met him and I love him to this day and now I consider him a friend.”
Buck has been thoroughly embraced by hip-hop. Conway invited Buck out to a Hartford club performance in March. The comedian participated in backstage festivities at the New York City stop of the Action Bronson-Earl Sweatshirt-Boldy James-headlined NBA Leather Tour. He is welcome at the Bruiser Brigade house in Detroit.
Buck said that he plans to leverage the success of “Bucked Up” into bolstering his stand-up career. He shared that the podcast is just a first step in his creative agenda. “I want to be undeniable,” Buck said. “That's the word that I think a lot of people use. But in my comedy and my podcast and who I am, I want to prove that I am supposed to be doing this.”
The latest episodes of the “Bucked Up” podcast can be found here.
—Staff writer Ryan S. Kim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.