by Cesca Janece Waterfield
A leading entertainer for nearly 20 years, Busta Rhymes has always shown a wide ranging marketability, from his earliest days with Leaders of the New School, his New York-based group that toured with Public Enemy in the early ‘90s.
But he’s seen his share of change and even tragedy, especially over the past few years. His seventh and most recent release “The Big Bang” from 2006, featured a drastic new direction from earlier recordings, one that reflected some dark events that shaped Busta’s outlook, like changes in his record company, legal troubles and the murder of his close friend and bodyguard. Nevertheless, it became Busta’s first number one and achieved platinum sales.
Since then, he’s left Dr. Dre’s label, Interscope/Aftermath, and is back with Sylvia Rhone, the CEO he began with in 1996, this time at Universal Motown. He says he remains friends with Dre but feels creative renewal in working with a woman who helped him start his solo career and achieve his biggest successes. He admits to experiencing personal growth and discovering a “new perspective.”
“Back on My B.S.” will be released May 19 and features famous faces including Young Jeezy, Jadakiss, Lil Wayne, Ludacris, Missy Elliott, Common, T-Pain and more, as well as producers like Dr. Dre and the Neptunes.
Congratulations on the new album and deal. How are you feeling about Back on My B.S.?
I’m feeling extremely phenomenal right now about the new album. It’s my eighth solo album. We just moved the [release] date from March 24th to May 19th. I felt it was important to do that because I know that the people have been waiting for this project, and hearing about the transitions that I’m going through, switching labels and all that. I just felt it was important that people especially in this economy, understand that when they spend their money on my project, they’re making a good investment. It ain’t easy to just be squandering money right now. It’s important that they hear the consistency and the substance in my project.
A lot of people are working harder than ever for less.
Absolutely. That’s what songs like Arab Money and my new single Hustler’s Anthem is all about. It’s about the courage of people to establish a new perspective on what it means to acquire wealth and to incorporate wealth in our lifestyles as opposed to just trying to be rich. One lyric on Hustler’s Anthem I like to quote to people so that they know I’m trying to inspire people in a time when inspiration is needed. The lyric goes, I know in times it probably seems like the hardest when you ain’t got it, but you gotta go and get it regardless. It’s like regardless of how difficult it may feel and look like there’s not light at the end of the tunnel, you’ve got to go out there and chase the possibility of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. None of us are exempt from feeling the effect of the economy. We’ve got to still go out there and do what we’ve got to do, because as far as I’m concerned, failure is never an option.
What can Richmond expect from your live show?
I’ve definitely worked hard as far as the live shows and the record is concerned. I think people know when I come through, we’re going to smash the building! I also think that people know to expect the unexpected. We like to exceed everybody’s levels of expectations. They can definitely look forward to that.
Busta, we asked some readers of Urban Views Weekly what they wanted to ask you.
Traei Walker, a big fan of Flipmode Squad says: You’ve been generous in reaching out to younger performers, sharing your skills and resources. Why is that important to you?
Because! It’s completely about bridging the gaps, number one. And number two, it’s also real important to make sure that we help groom and condition our new artists to come up and do what they’re supposed to that helps preserve the quality of the culture, and the art form and the value we have in the market place as a genre of music.
That leads into a question from J.D. Haze of Soul Logistics Radio Show. J.D. asks: What’s your forecast for the future of hip hop?
I think it’s going to continue to grow. I think we need to reestablish the music that is more consistent on a level of substance so that we can reestablish the value of the content. It doesn’t make sense to me that a ringtone costs more than an iTune. That’s backwards to me. You buy a ringtone for $2.99 but you spend 99 cents on the whole song. A ringtone’s only 30 seconds. We’ve got to reestablish the value of the content so that people can appreciate and respect the music and culture and the art form the way they’re supposed to.
Antoine Scott, a comic from Richmond says, You’ve been going 20 years strong! How have you been able to have such longevity in the industry?
I’m still a fan of it, in a nutshell, as long as I can continue to be inspired by other artists. I love to see incredible artists do things that make me feel like the fire in me can continue to stay lit. That does a lot for me to make me continue to want to do it, and also make me want to see other artists do it. As long as I’ve got that vibe, I’m going to continue to be part of this thing.
Who are some of the artists who light that fire for you?
Kanye, Nas, Jay-Z, Common, Talib Kweli, Q-Tip, Twista, Rusty Waters, Red Cafe, Uncle Murda, Jadakiss. Those are pretty much the ones in my opinion who are contributing to the music.
Trisha Taylor, Marketing Director for Lyric Ave asks: Where is your favorite place to write?
I get inspiration from how I’m feeling at the time, what I’m going through, what’s going on around me. I feed off of what’s happening currently. Everything I write is a direct reflection of what’s going on.
Craig Watson, co-founder of Lyric Ave wants to know: What defining moment in your career could you share with other artists who are trying to make it in the industry?
I don’t really have a defining moment. Everything happens differently for each artist, so what’s a defining moment for me may never be a defining moment for someone else. The only thing I can say would be a defining moment is mastering who you are, and everything will fall into place.
How are you going to celebrate the release of Back on My B.S.?
It’s a day before my birthday so that’s going to be one of my biggest celebrations and a gift to myself to be able to release an album. It’s not too far from Memorial Day weekend so it’s going to be a great time. That’s when we start pulling the grills out and barbequeing in the backyard. Everybody needs to treat themselves and enjoy the first holiday of the summer with Back on my B.S. this bangin’ LP that you’re getting from none other than yours truly.