I never really concerned myself with s**t like that cause, what you gonna do?, says Busta Rhymes when asked at his inconspicuous absence whenever Top 5 rapper lists are tallied. He continues, All I know how to do is what I been doing, and at the end of the day thats smashing mothaf**kas in every way across the board.Busta insists theres no chip on his shoulder, though if he did the claim would be legit. Since his debut to the rap world as a boisterous Leader of the New School, Busta has embarked on a hit laden solo career (Woo-Hah! (Got You All In Check), Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See) that coupled with a full clip of show stealing guest verses (Flava In Ya Ear (Remix), Scenario) and combustible stage shows has indisputably made Bussa Bus one of Hip-Hops top tier artists. In 2004 Busta signed on with Aftermath Records. Surely working with Dr. Dre would mean a turbo boost in stardom, and sales, right? However, the album was slow to arrive, and despite a huge hit (Touch It), his first #1 chart debut, and critical kudos, 2007s The Big Bang didnt live up to expectations in the marketplace. Simultaneously issues surrounding the death of his bodyguard, Ismael Ramirez, at the Touch It video shoot and various ensuing legal troubles didnt help matters. Nevertheless, Busta presses on. In July 2008 he left Interscope and Dr. Dres care, eventually landing at Universal/Motown. The label is headed by Sylvia Rhone, who signed Leaders of the New School in 1990. Im just back in my comfort zone again, says Busta of he and Rhones reunion. With the success of his controversial hit Arab Money he is comfortably back on the charts as well. With his eighth album, B.O.M.B. (Back On My B.S.), due in March 2009, we asked Busta just about everything. From his legal trouble to what really occurred during his convo with Jimmy Iovine, on to who his favorite producers and MCs are, he answered everything candidly and sincerely. No B.S.AllHipHop.com: So, now youre signed to Universal/Motown, its
almost like youre coming full circle since Sylvia Rhone is here and your solo
career really jumped off at Elektra with her. So whats that like?
Busta Rhymes: Back on my
bulls**t. You know what Im
saying? We back to getting back to what we used to do, to what weve always
been able to do together. Ive never loved any one that Ive been in business
with more than I love this woman.
And I just think that Sylvia is just an extremely loyal person. She loves really hard and shes an
extremely passionate individual. Shes
always been the type of person where, if you in her good graces she will walk
through any storm and any fire with you.
I think this one of the greatest
ways to actually press the restart button. I pressed my start button to my solo
career with her. And I went
through phases with other situations and I can see the difference in the way
things are manifested now as opposed to what they were in my last
situation. We put one record out
[Arab Money], s**t is on frenzy level everywhere now
that Im back with the person that knows how the do business with the Busta Rhymes brand better than anybody in the game. Im
just back in my comfort zone again, and Ive always tried to acquire a comfort
zone like this for the last five years.
I just wasnt able to do it.
Busta Rhymes f/ Ron Browz “Arab Money” Video
AllHipHop.com: That said what made you leave Elektra to J Records. What was the situation behind that?
Busta Rhymes: Back then, I was in a different
space mentally. I felt like the things that me and Sylvia
had done together had outgrown that situation. We was a monster that couldnt
fit in the building no more. Video
started off being $600,000 then ended up becoming $2.4 million videos. Like, where else was there left for us to
go? What, we going to start spending three, four million dollars on videos, you
know, to outdo [the previous one]?
Everything we did just got so much bigger than the last s**t and thats
what we was about. Me and Sylvia, we just was so dope
together that nothing outside of ourselves [was] our competition, you know what
Im saying? So we was competing with ourselves.
Busta Rhymes “Woo-Hah!” Video
AllHipHop.com: It was definitely crazy video after even crazier
video for a while.
Busta Rhymes: It was crazy like nothing couldnt top what we was doing. And
it just got to a point where we couldnt top our own s**t. It was time for us
to try something else. And you
know it was almost like a defense mech. We had to leave ourselves or we was gonna kill ourselves. Because what
we started doing no longer was conducive to proper business practice. The profit margin started lessening the
more we spent.
It started to cost us more to
acquire greater success because we just was creating those movies every time we
came back around with a new project. Think about it, first album was with Zhane [Its A Party]. And then When Disaster Strikes had Erykah Badu on One,
then Janet [Jackson] was Extinction Level
Event [Whats It Gonna Be?]. It just got bigger
and bigger and bigger and s**t was just it just became too much. So we had to let each other breathe a
little bit, and let somebody else share the burden of trying to maintain the Busta Rhymes success.
Busta Rhymes “Pass the Courvoisier Part 2” Video
AllHipHop.com: You said youre in a comfortable situation now. The
Aftermath situation started off with great potential and expectations, of
course. What happened?
Busta Rhymes: Just ummm the patience that Dr. Dre
had was a little difficult for me.
I respect patience, your circumstance can only allow you to have the
kind of patience he has. You know
what Im saying? His circumstances were very different than a lot of us because
hes been successful on an astronomical level for a very long time. As a
producer Dre can generate significant amount of
revenue without having to be on the front line as an artist. You know me,
my primary revenue stream is being on the front line as an artist.
So at the end of the day while
Dre is perfecting perfection itself, you know, at
that level he does things in every way when it comes to music, you sitting
around three, four years trying to put an album together. Because
nothing is good enough for Dre. Which was actually a blessing because
it ended up making The Big Bang one
of my most incredible albums.
’I Love My Chick,’ that wasnt a single choice that was made by Busta or
Dr. Dre. So when you see the difference, Busta Rhymes put out ‘Touch It,’ it was a movie. The single that I chose to
go with, which Dre was in agreement with was ‘Get You
Some,’ which was a Dr. Dre produced record.
AllHipHop.com: Looking at your discography through the years you
were good for a year, year and a half between albums, not to mention all the
remixes and guest features.
Busta Rhymes: Thats the pace that I was used to. Thats how Busta
Rhymes does things when Busta Rhymes is in the drivers
seat. But when I went to his
situation you play by different rules because youre moving into someones
house whos had success that superseded your success;
doing it his way. There aint been a project that Dre put out that aint do five
million, four million, three million. So its hard to tell him to do it
different, when his way has always worked for him. And which it probably would have, with my album, if we
didnt compromise what we knew was best for the project.
When I say that I mean sometimes
when an exec from a parent company wants you to go in a direction that they
want you to go in, and they promise to deliver on those levels where you make
that choice and support what they suggest is the decision that you should
support. Then if you fight against that and it doesnt go the way that you want
it to go A lot of the times you may not get the support that you might
need. On The Big Bang album, I Love My Chick, that wasnt a single choice
that was made by Busta or Dr. Dre.
So when you see the difference, Busta Rhymes put out
Touch It, it was a movie. Then
we put out the remix, bigger movie.
The single that I chose to go with, which Dre
was in agreement with, was Get You Some, which was a Dr. Dre
produced record with Marsha and Q-Tip.
First song on my album, now after three years of sitting around, there
is no possible way that the people are going to want to see an album come out
and you not have a Dr. Dre produced record, if youre
on Aftermath with Dr. Dre.
Weve already seen what a Dr. Dre produced single with Busta
Rhymes on it can do with Break Ya Neck when I was
on J records. We put it out and
the Genesis album ended up selling
1.9 million albums and that was my first single. So for me to have been at
Aftermath/Interscope and not have a Dre single, it just made no sense. But obviously, that
wouldnt be a choice that we would make.
We rolled with the choice of Jimmy Iovine at
the time because thats what he felt we should have done. And that directly contributed to the
change of the momentum of the project. That single wasnt the right single and I
chose to never let a situation like that transpire again. But you know, we could have also stood
our ground and said, Nah we not doing that regardless of what the end result
would have been. But that was then,
this is now.
AllHipHop.com: Its like a double edge sword. You stand your ground
Busta Rhymes: You dont get the support you want.
Busta Rhymes: And then if you do go with it, you get all the support you
want and then you still dont get it because you know it aint the right single, youre damned either
way. Again, that was then this is
now. And Im not making those kind of mistakes anymore. But with that being said, I dont
want people to think that theres any disgruntledness
because, Im not mad at my experience over there. S**t happens the way they happen because thats just how it
There was a lot of other s**t that
went down in my two years over there that shouldnt have happened that
contributed to a lot of the difficulties of the way things was going on. The s**t that
happened at the video shoot.
You know, just a lot of the negative press with the court cases and the
constant getting arrested and it was just a lot of s**t was going haywire at
the time too that was hurting what we was trying to do with the music. It was just a major anti-Busta Rhymes campaign for a while.
Busta Rhymes f/ Swizz Beatz “New York S**t” Video
AllHipHop.com: You dropped The Big Bang which
received plenty of critical acclaim but then in the months after its
release it seemed like every time your name came up in the press it was about
anything but music.
Busta Rhymes: You stopped thinking about me having an album, you started
thinking about me being a criminal and s**t. In a timeframe when they was
putting every one of our Black entertainers in jail, if my charges were that
serious I would have been doing some kind of time too. But none of my charges were serious
because, Im not no criminal, number one. Number two, situations, more or less
were manifesting not as a result of me doing wrong things but as a result of me
being dealt with in an unjust manner and being harassed by law enforcement
because of the situation that transpired at the video shoot. Because as you can see for the 16, 17
year career at that time , I never had no problems
AllHipHop.com: You cant say there was a pattern or anything like
Busta Rhymes: Nothing. And
once that situation transpired it was an onslaught of s**t that just started to
play out back to back for the last two years, and Im still dealing with some
of it now. But the difference is, you my cases are closed so it aint too much they can do with me
right now. As far as trying to get me in trouble I dont have any pending cases,
I dont have no legal issues with nobody. Im in a new
space with a new deal, new album coming, Im a new person and Im extremely
AllHipHop.com: Is there anything final you want to say about the
situation at the video and with your late friend Ismael
Ramirez? Theres always been a ton of speculation but mostly from people not
really familiar with what happened, so is there anything final you want to say
Busta Rhymes: Nah, theres
really nothing else that I do want to say. I dont really want to say anything
because the bottom line is, you know, I dont have anything to do with anything
concerning that situation other than trying to provide an opportunity for all
of us to work and make money cause we were shooting a video. And again, I just wish for the people
that have so much to say about me in the situation it would serve a greater
purpose to not only get the facts and know what you talking about before you
talk, but invest the energy that you are putting in in
trying to disrespect the situation by continuing to talk based on information
that you dont really have the facts on [and] do something to help the mans
If you really want to do
something do something to help the brothers family; he got three kids, three
mothers of his children and it could be more useful putting whatever energy
that you have into being productive, moving forward for the situation. And
thats pretty much it. And God
bless all the loved ones and all those that have been affected directly and
indirectly. Ive been affected
directly and indirectly since the day that it happened more than people
realize, and Im still dealing with those effects, and so is my family so I
just kind of want to move forward.
[Jimmy Iovine] supported me in a way that I never seen
beforehe let me leave with my album. What more could you ask for? There
was no beef whatsoever and thats not a politically correct
AllHipHop.com: Blessed was originally the title of your
next album and you had dropped some songs to prep its
release. But is it true that there was an argument between you and Jimmy Iovine that lead to you leaving Interscope
and then landing at Universal/Motown?
Busta Rhymes: Nah. Thats another thing that wasnt accurate. I never
had any beef with Jimmy Iovine. We sat down and we
communicated our concerns and I communicated not only my concerns but what I would like to do moving forward as far as wanting
to make some changes. And the
beautiful thing about Jimmy Iovine that I respect is
the fact that he respected my judgment call as far as what my choices were and
he also respected the hard work that went into creating the legacy that I have;
he didnt want to do nothing to soil that or stain that.
supported me in a way that I never seen beforehe let me leave with my
album. What more could you ask for? Thats a blessing because a lot of these
labels when they give you money to spend on a project, they want they money
back in some kind of way. They
want to override or they want you to pay that money back in its entirety. I
didnt have none of that to deal with and I guess its
because the discussion was dealt with in a respectful manner.
There was no beef whatsoever
and thats not a politically correct answer neither. We dont got no problem in getting in somebodys
ass who aint doing they
job. Thats a M.O. of Hip-Hop artists. A lot of the
time the artists beef so much with labels that aint doin they job that a
lot of time you start to think that thats their mothaf**kin
excuse for s**t they do sometimes thats just wack. I
use that as an excuse in this situation because my success wasnt the greatest
over there so I got every reason to pop s**t. If it was just based on and being about the success of the
records, but thats not really the nature of my situation I really dont have
nothing to be mad about with that experience over there.
I do wish things could have
popped a little crazier as far the success but I would not have changed The Big Bang album for the world. Its still one of my
if not the favorite album of mine from a lyrical standpoint, a
conceptual standpoint, and a musical standpoint. You know?
Legends of The Fall Offs, gravediggin beat
with the shovel in the dirt, that shit is conceptually its just unbelievable.
You Cant Hold a Torch, me and Q-Tip over the J-Dilla beat.
Dont Get Carried Away, me and Nas over the Dre beat. You know
Gold Mine me and Raekwon over the
Erick Sermon beat with the Dre production;
Rick James, Stevie Wonder.
AllHipHop.com: It definitely felt like the album should have lasted
in the marketplace much longer than it did.
Rhymes: Yeah. We had a 60-piece orchestra at the end of the Stevie Wonder song.
You know its like there were movies made on that album and I wouldnt change
it for the world. The only
thing I probably would have changed is I Love My Chick would not have been on
that album. I probably would have put I Love My Chick on another album
that it would have been more appropriate for.