Legacy is a complex topic in the world of hip-hop. Many artists don't get their flowers in the modern-day scene, even if they heavily influenced the blueprint of rap. One of those rappers comes in the electric form of Busta Rhymes. He helped broaden the scope of hip-hop at a time when evolution was needed. The Brooklyn-born MC burst onto the scene, curating a collection of pre-millennium bangers. He rapped aggressively high-octane beats on albums such as When Disaster Strikes and Extinction Level Event: The Final World Front.
However, Busta Rhymes' hip-hop career had been in the works long before his breakout solo albums were released. Back in Long Island, he was setting the groundwork for a culture of rap that didn't revolve around street life. He was part of a sub-culture of rap that couldn't relate to hood tales, didn't identify with braggadocios rap, but still wanted to see themselves reflected in the culture. "That Long Island environment was some fresh air type s**t, that spacy s**t that gives you room to be who you are and want to be without all those urban hangups," Busta once reflected. In essence, Busta Rhymes was looking to make hip-hop fun again.
Q-Tip Helped Busta Rhymes Blow Up
From the jump, Rhymes delivered an unparalleled sound to his audience. Its uniqueness lies in his vast array of experiences as a child. At 12, he was breakdancing in British clubs beside his cousins. In addition, he was growing up in a melting pot of creative culture in Brooklyn, briefly attending the same high school as Notorious B.I.G and Jay-Z. He got his big break with the game-changing "Scenario" from A Tribe Called Quest's The Low End Theory. When Q-Tip created the outline for the track, he always had Busta Rhymes in mind. It was a purposeful effort on his part to give Busta a platform to shine.
During all this, Busta Rhymes was still looking to balance his newfound fame with his ground-rooted hip-hop group, Leaders of the New School. However, his rapidly ascending star caused a significant amount of attention. Busta and Charlie Brown were constantly getting into fights about who the group's leader was, leading to the group's eventual end. By 1993, Busta was working on his solo debut. The Coming saw him graduate from the untold streets of Brooklyn to Times Square. Disorienting and distracting, the project's only real downfall is its bloated tracklist.
When Disaster Strikes Solidified Busta Rhymes's Legacy
If The Coming propelled Busta Rhymes into a position of mainstream hip-hop relevancy, When Disaster Strikes wrote his bio into the history books. Discarding the sophomore slump notion, Busta becomes a creative sniper on the project. Toning down on his electric screaming, his slightly mellowed out flow worked to the project's benefit. However, the visual counterparts became the hallmark aspect of When Disaster Strikes. In retrospect, Busta's passion for the filmmaking coin of hip-hop arrived at the perfect time. By the late '90s, the golden age of music videos was approaching.
Everything about his demeanor, energy, and execution on his sophomore record mirrored the tendencies of a Platinum artist. The rapper says, "The reason why When Disaster Strikes was called that was for me, in the presence of having fun, I also wanted to spark order. I wanted to be able to think about things that we aren't really conditioned to think about or look into, or between the lines of to get closer to the truth about. That's why it's been The Coming, When Disaster Strikes, Extinction Level Event, Anarchy, Genesis, It Ain't Safe No More, The Big Bang. All of those titles, there's a silver lining that connects all of them, and it's never gonna stop me - that's something that's a lifetime obligation of mine."
A New Album Is On The Way
Since When Disaster Strikes, Busta Rhymes would continue releasing many classic albums. The introspective hype man of hip-hop, Busta Rhymes' didn't quite garner the critical acclaim of his classmates, Notorious B.I.G. or Jay-Z. However, he didn't exist in the world of lavish street culture and excessive violence. Instead, he was uniquely focused on making his listeners view the world differently. Busta Rhymes' multi-decade-long career has solidified him as a legend in the hip-hop world.
Now eclipsing three decades into his career, the recently turned 51-year-old shows no signs of stopping. On May 14th, he took to Instagram to announce the upcoming release of his next full-length project. While we don't yet have a release date, Busta has confirmed the album is executive produced by a star-studded lineup of Swizz Beatz, Pharrell Williams, and Timbaland. Swizz and Busta have a working relationship dating back to 1998 when Swizz produced "Tear Da Roof Off."