Busta Rhymes: The AllHipHop Interview, Pt. 1

“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 that’s smashing mothaf**kas in every way across the board.”Busta insists there’s 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-Hop’s 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, 2007’s The Big Bang didn’t 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 didn’t help matters. Nevertheless, Busta presses on. In July 2008 he left Interscope and Dr. Dre’s care, eventually landing at Universal/Motown. The label is headed by Sylvia Rhone, who signed Leaders of the New School in 1990. “I’m just back in my comfort zone again,” says Busta of he and Rhone’s 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 you’re signed to Universal/Motown, it’s

almost like you’re coming full circle since Sylvia Rhone is here and your solo

career really jumped off at Elektra with her. So what’s that like?

 

Busta Rhymes: Back on my

bulls**t.  You know what I’m

saying? We back to getting back to what we used to do, to what we’ve always

been able to do together. I’ve never loved any one that I’ve 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 she’s an

extremely passionate individual.  She’s

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 I’m back with the person that knows how the do business with the Busta Rhymes brand better than anybody in the game. I’m

just back in my comfort zone again, and I’ve always tried to acquire a comfort

zone like this for the last five years. 

I just wasn’t 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 couldn’t

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 that’s

what we was about. Me and Sylvia, we just was so dope

together that nothing outside of ourselves [was] our competition, you know what

I’m 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 couldn’t top what we was doing.  And

it just got to a point where we couldn’t 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 [“It’s A Party”]. And then When Disaster Strikes had Erykah Badu on “One,”

then Janet [Jackson] was Extinction Level

Event [“What’s 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 you’re 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 I’m saying? His circumstances were very different than a lot of us because

he’s 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 wasn’t 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.”

 Touch It – Busta Rhymes

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: That’s the pace that I was used to.  That’s how Busta

Rhymes does things when Busta Rhymes is in the driver’s

seat.  But when I went to his

situation you play by different rules because you’re moving into someone’s

house who’s had success that superseded your success;

doing it his way.  There ain’t been a project that Dre put out that aint do five

million, four million, three million. So it’s 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

didn’t 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 doesn’t 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 wasn’t 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 you’re

on Aftermath with Dr. Dre. 

 

We’ve 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

wouldn’t be a choice that we would make. 

We rolled with the choice of Jimmy Iovine at

the time because that’s what he felt we should have done.  And that directly contributed to the

change of the momentum of the project. That single wasn’t 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: It’s like a double edge sword. You stand your ground

and…

 

Busta Rhymes: You don’t get the support you want.

 

AllHipHop.com: Right.

 

Busta Rhymes: And then if you do go with it, you get all the support you

want and then you still don’t get it because you know it ain’t the right single, you’re damned either

way.  Again, that was then this is

now.  And I’m not making those kind of mistakes anymore. But with that being said, I don’t

want people to think that there’s any disgruntledness

because, I’m not mad at my experience over there.  S**t happens the way they happen because that’s just how it

happened.

 

There was a lot of other s**t that

went down in my two years over there that shouldn’t 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, I’m 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

with nobody.

 

AllHipHop.com: You can’t say there was a pattern or anything  like

that.

 

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 I’m still dealing with some

of it now. But the difference is, you my cases are closed so it ain’t too much they can do with me

right now. As far as trying to get me in trouble I don’t have any pending cases,

I don’t have no legal issues with nobody. I’m in a new

space with a new deal, new album coming, I’m a new person and I’m extremely

happy. 

 

AllHipHop.com: Is there anything final you want to say about the

situation at the video and with your late friend Ismael

Ramirez? There’s 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

about it?

 

Busta Rhymes:  Nah, there’s

really nothing else that I do want to say. I don’t really want to say anything

because the bottom line is, you know, I don’t 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 don’t really have the facts on [and] do something to help the man’s

family.

 

If you really want to do

something do something to help the brother’s family; he got three kids, three

mother’s of his children and it could be more useful putting whatever energy

that you have into being productive, moving forward for the situation. And

that’s pretty much it.  And God

bless all the loved ones and all those that have been affected directly and

indirectly.  I’ve been affected

directly and indirectly since the day that it happened more than people

realize, and I’m 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

before—he let me leave with my album. What more could you ask for? There

was no beef whatsoever and that’s not a politically correct

answer neither.”

 

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. That’s another thing that wasn’t 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 didn’t want to do nothing to soil that or stain that.

 

[Jimmy Iovine]

supported me in a way that I never seen before—he let me leave with my

album. What more could you ask for? That’s 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

didn’t have none of that to deal with and I guess it’s

because the discussion was dealt with in a respectful manner.

 

There was no beef whatsoever

and that’s not a politically correct answer neither.  We don’t got no problem in getting in somebody’s

ass who ain’t doing they

job. That’s a M.O. of Hip-Hop artists. A lot of the

time the artists beef so much with labels that ain’t doin’ they job that a

lot of time you start to think that that’s their mothaf**kin’

excuse for s**t they do sometimes that’s just wack. I

ain’t wanna

use that as an excuse in this situation because my success wasn’t 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 that’s not really the nature of my situation I really don’t 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.  It’s 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…it’s just unbelievable.

“You Can’t Hold a Torch,” me and Q-Tip over the J-Dilla beat. 

“Don’t 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.

Legend Of The Fall Offs – Busta Rhymes

AllHipHop.com: It definitely felt like the album should have lasted

in the marketplace much longer than it did.  

 

Busta

Rhymes: Yeah. We had a 60-piece orchestra at the end of the Stevie Wonder song.

You know it’s like there were movies made on that album and I wouldn’t 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. 

 Busta Rhymes: The AllHipHop Interview, Pt. 2

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