“Yah, yah, yah, yah, yah…yah, yah, yaaaaahhhhhh.” – Busta Rhymes, “Woo Hah!!” (1996)
Some cats just have nine lives. Just when you count them as down and out, they keep coming back…over and over and over again. In the rap world, for instance, count how many MCs there are who can say they’ve rocked crowds filled with nearly three generations of rap lovers, sold more than 10 million albums in this country alone, and can keep finding relevance, no matter how groups break up, time passes, technology advances, and sales models change. Hmmm. Let’s just say you can probably count them on one hand.
If this is all true, then rapper Busta Rhymes is on, at least, the seventh or eighth great ride of his life. Last week, the music industry took a collective gasp at the news that the Leaders of the New School, Native Tongue, 15+ year-solo careered veteran had landed a revolutionary, new rap deal. To those of us who knew him way back when, it scarcely seems like two decades since we all became mesmerized by the massive, zany, costumed character of a brand that is Busta Rhymes.
AllHipHop.com reported the latest Busta Rhymes news early on, even taking time to list our “5 Reasons Why Busta Rhymes Signing to Cash Money Is Good,” which garnered a bunch of differing opinions on his/their business decision. Still, we had to to hear it from the man himself, so we caught up with him right before Thanksgiving to “pass the Courvoisier” and celebrate:
AllHipHop.com: Bussa Buss! Of course, everyone in the industry is talking about your deal with Cash Money . So first off, congratulations!
Busta Rhymes: Thank you!
AllHipHop.com: I know you were talking about it at the Google Music Launch this week, and you called the deal “groundbreaking.” So tell people a little bit about what this connection with Google Music means…
Busta Rhymes: My connection with Google Music is now that I’m part of the Google Music family. I’m in business with Google, and I’m proud to be the one that they thought of to launch the higher Music Division and Music Store, and to be a part of something that is definitely defining a turning point and a shift in climate in the way we share our music – from a creative standpoint and from a business standpoint. I’m just glad that the freeness and the willingness that they had to be part of the Busta Rhymes business is primarily what contributed to the uniqueness of, not only the deal, but the relationship.
What’s even moreso amazing is that, you know, the newness of everything that they have going on; the newness of the way Cash Money does business is obviously why they’re set apart from every other conventional record company. It’s the most ideal and the most perfect opportunity for me, because I was blessed with the opportunity to not only be in business with the most powerful record company and the most powerful search engine in the world, but I was blessed with the opportunity to be able to partner everyone together. The uniqueness of that entire situation is what’s “groundbreaking” itself, because its kind has never been done before.
AllHipHop.com: Right. Well, you mentioned two of the biggest names of any industry – Google and Cash Money. I don’t think you can lose with that, Busta! So again, congrats on that. Now, Baby and Slim, with their long history of working in this industry…had you known them well before? What was that relationship like before and how did this really evolve?
Busta Rhymes: Yeah, me, Baby, Slim, Wayne, the original Cash Money Hot Boys, and you know, all the way down to what the new Young Money Cash Money family is now, we’ve always had a relationship. We’ve always had a respect level, we’ve always had a genuine love, and it’s been displayed through the way we rock with each other when it comes to being creative and doing business, you know what I’m saying?
As you can see, I’m on Tha Carter III, I’m on Tha Carter IV. Wayne delivered for me on “Respect My Conglomerate,” back on my Back On My B.S. album. Currently, I got a record out with Lil Twist, which is his first single on the Don’t Get It Twisted album that’s getting ready to come. I got records with Tyga. The relationship dynamic has always been an incredible one, you know what I’m saying? So, just through the organic and genuine respect that’s been reciprocated and given back and forth to each other, just the support that we’ve had for each other’s movements, you know…it just made the most sense. And it just felt the most right to do.
At this stage in my career, I’m only doing business with people that respect my brand, and I respect their brand. They respect me as a person, and I respect them as [people], so both personally and professionally, we got respect for each other, and we got love, and it’s felt. It’s being displayed through the acts moreso than the word, you know what I’m saying? That situation in itself is the nature of how it all evolved over the years. That’s pretty much why it’s such a beautiful opportunity to be able to rock out with dudes that you already rock with from years before we even entertained the idea of being in business together in this capacity.
With that being said, and then Google, them being willing to understand what stage I’m at in my career and what I’m trying to do…you know, them figuring out and being willing to facilitate what I’m trying to do, and what they’re trying to do. Google, on their end, they have made it very clear to me that they were pro prioritizing what Busta Rhymes is trying to do at this stage of his career, as a businessman and as an artist. They made it very clear by showing me, when we sat at the roundtable to decide on how to sculpture this deal and tailor it, how to make it exactly what is pro and what it is in the best interest of the Busta Rhymes business, and how they can fit into the new direction that the Busta Rhymes business is trying to go into and is structured. [That’s] what made me extremely proud of going in business with them as well.
AllHipHop.com: From Google, that’s impressive…
Busta Rhymes: It’s even more impressive to me when everything that we’re doing is new, and it’s very risky for everybody, but you’re willing to not be closed-minded to the things that I felt like I need to be able to do. As a new direction for my business, it has probably been the most fulfilling thing in the whole entertaining of the idea of being in business together. They are so accommodating, you know what I’m saying? And they’re so pro-the empowerment of the artist. They’re providing such an unbelievable platform and an unbelievable medium and such a massive landscape for me to be able to expose the music – new ways of sharing the music, new ways of selling the music.
[Read up on the AllHipHop News story announcing Busta’s deal HERE]
Like, as artists, that’s what we’ve been missing for a long time. Doing business the conventional record company way, you kinda get tired of hearing the execs talking about retailers suffering all of the time. I don’t wanna hear that sh*t no more. Retail ain’t suffering for the people who treat the music the right way. As you can see with Cash Money, their retail ain’t suffering at all. There’s no ceiling on the level of success that we’re always trying to garnish. But at the end of the day, what they are displaying on a very consistent basis is that if you prioritize the genius in the artist as primary, and you prioritize the music from the artist as primary, and you nurture that sh*t and you treat it with the support and the nourishment that it needs, you’re going to get the stellar results that they continue to get. And by the way, Take Care is in stores now. Congratulations to Drake.
AllHipHop.com: Well, as soon as we and others posted the story the day the announcement was made, there were all types of reactions. You know, all over the Internet people sound off on how they feel about everything nowadays. And it was kinda split – some people was like, ‘this is a great thing, this is a great day,’ and those were probably the oldheads like me who have seen you from the very beginning. Then you had people who were like, ‘oh God, Cash Money? Why would he sign with them?’ How do you respond to that…to the naysayers?
Busta Rhymes: I don’t respond to it! That’s the best way to respond, ‘cause it’s pointless for me to respond. You can see what my response is through my action. I’m in business with the best record company. Period. I’m in business with the most powerful record company. Period. I’m in business with the most powerful search engine in the world. Period. My action is gonna speak louder than anything I can say. I think the one thing that I find the most entertaining about the people who have resistance is that maybe the fact that they have resistance is that it’s not them.
AllHipHop.com: Hmmm. Yeah, well, the haters are speaking, so I definitely agree with that.
Busta Rhymes: I don’t necessarily think that they’re haters. I just think that there’s a lot of people who work hard, you know what I’m saying? It’s very difficult for people to get the shot that I have gotten sooo many times throughout a 20-year career landscape. I don’t even think you can count it on…I don’t even…I don’t even think there’s more than two or three of us that can say that they’re able to still do it at this level or with this dynamic 20 years later, and actually do it in a way that’s probably bigger right now than ever.
Because, there’s nobody with a deal like this, there’s nobody that has a more powerful partnership than between the most powerful record label in the world, the most powerful management company in Urban Music, and the most powerful search engine in existence, and combine all of it to be in business with the conglomerate, Busta Rhymes. All of these conglomerates, all of these establishments, all of these corporations are moving in the same direction – to be pro my career as a businessman and my creative contribution as an artist.
Nobody can say that they have this. So I do embrace the love as much as I embrace the hatred, because that is only a testament to me that I’m documenting a moment in time that will be forever sacred. That’s something that I bask in and I relish in as another blessing being bestowed in a way that a lot of people wished and are still wishing could be bestowed on them. You know, I wanna see people do things like this. That’s why we do it – so we can inspire other people to find new ways to go about doing things, and creating new avenues, new outlets for us to figure out how to do business, and how to be creative, and how to maximize all of our opportunities.
AllHipHop.com: Yeah, it’s a monster deal. Congrats again, for real. So, Busta, let me ask you about a few key moments this year that I think helped cement some of this and said to people that Busta is back and about to do major things. The first was, of course, the single with Chris Brown. We were debating in the AllHipHop offices whether that single springboarded your comeback, or whether that single wouldn’t have been anything without you on it. I saw a whole new generation find you relevant. Do you think that’s gonna change your style at all? You’re with a bunch of younger people on that label…so will the signature Busta style stay the same?
Busta Rhymes: I don’t think there’s ever any reason for me to change who I am. I never had to change who I am, and the fact that I haven’t changed who I am is probably the reason why all this amazing sh*t is happening. I think what people are realizing is that there’s a change in ME – my growth. And in the process of growing, a lot of times, people lose who they originally are in the process of growing. Me, I was always taught that when you lay a foundation down, and you build a skyscraper on it, if that foundation was always strong from the beginning, all you gotta do is add floors to the skyscraper to make it taller, bigger, and more beautiful. There’s no reason to demolition the skyscraper and tear down the foundation for that skyscraper to look amazing.