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When Did Busta Rhymes Become Terrible?Posted by Nathan S. on 05/10/10 | Filed under Top Stories, Features, Busta Rhymes
Before we can answers that question - if it has an answer - we have to establish a couple facts. First, there was a time when Busta was one of the best rappers alive. And I don't just mean that in a "he was really dope" kind of way, I'm talking automatic first ballot Hip-Hop Hall of Famer. When a young, lean and impossibly energetic Busta Rhymes first burst on the scene alongside the Leaders of the New School way back in 1991, hip-hop has never seen or heard anything like him. As I've written before, his verse at the end of "Scenario" is one of the best rap verses of all time (cue Kanye voice: "Of all time!").
And "Scenario" wasn't just purely the product of a youthful mind. From his debut album "The Coming" in 1996 through 2002's "It Ain't Safe No More" Busta continued to churn out some of the most innovative and creative hip-hop the game had ever seen. Crucially, more than a decade after that epic verse on "Scenario", Busta was still spitting as hard as ever. Just take one of my favorite new school Busta joints "Gimme Some More". Sweet baby jesus that flow is sick. No one was f**king with Busta Buss on the mic. No one.
But then, right around the time he dropped 2006's "The Big Bang" things changed. Busta cut off his trademark dreads and his often insane sense of humor seemed to disappear. Now he's far from the first rapper to change his image late in his career; ain't nothing wrong with evolving, with keeping things fresh. But confusingly, not only did his image change, his flow changed. Gone were the spitfire flows and hyper-original lyrics. Instead, we got an often lethargic sounding Busta who seemed to have fallen in love with making mediocre club-money making anthems.
If Busta were an athlete, they're be whispers about a knee injury. He'd be seeing specialists in Arizona for treatment. Sadly, this is hip-hop, and despite my hopes that the "Arab Music" era was an anomaly, a flight of fancy that Busta would get out of his system, over the weekend he confirmed his commitment to wackness by dropping his new, terrible single with Swizzy, "Stop the Party".
So how do we explain his slide? Well, I've already pointed out Busta's - shall we say "questionable" - weight gain, so I won't get into it here. Besides, although steroids have many negative side effects, loss of rap skills isn't one of them. And we could always trot out the Samson theory - which would make sense considering he seemed to have lost his powers about the same time he lost his dreads - but this is hip-hop, not mythology. Sadly, I have no real answers. The fact that his flow has literally slowed so significantly might suggest some physical ailment, but it's unlikely. Unfortunately, this appears to be a conscious decision by Busta, and only he knows why.
To wrap things up without another sports analogy, this isn't Jordan coming back for one more shot at the Wizards with diminished skills but still capable of bursts of greatness. No, Busta's recent work is more like an aging boxer who just can't stay out of the ring: while some part of you believes he can recover his former greatness, you sometimes find yourself hoping he hangs up the gloves before his career ends tragically.