Busta Rhymes celebrated a birthday on Tuesday, but it wasn’t the anniversary of the day he was born. It was the day he was reborn as an MC and businessman — the day his new album hit stores.
“I named my album Genesis ’cause there was nowhere left to go after The Coming (1996), When Disaster Strikes (1997), Extinction Level Event (1998) and Anarchy (2000),” he said recently, sitting in the offices of J Records. “Sequentially it made sense to be at that point. … The only place left to go is just rebuilding a whole brand new whatever.”
Part of Busta’s rebuilding involved leaving Elektra for Clive Davis’ J Records. “Thinking long-term, J Records ended up being the most comfortable situation. … And the respect of Clive Davis’ legacy, I just felt like with his legacy there’s a whole lot I can learn in my time here [that] I’m gonna want to absorb and apply to my own situation.”
As Busta tells it, Genesis not only marks his own new beginning, but it also acted as a vehicle for him to pay homage in his music.
” ‘Truck Volume’ is a joint that was just for the dudes that like to be in big vehicles,” he said of the first of the disc’s three Dr. Dre-produced tracks. “Get up in your pickup. Get up in your big Benz, your big Monte Carlo. Turn your system up to your highest decibel. It was a salute to them type of people.”
He pays tribute to one of his favorite drinks on “Pass the Courvoisier,” which features P. Diddy.
“I was looking for an endorsement deal over there, fellas,” Busta said with a laugh. “In any event, me and Puff were chilling in the studio one day, and we were just kicking it about everything going on, from a business lifestyle to a personal lifestyle, and we just had cognacs in the studio. We were saluting a lot of the good things that were happening for us — he had won his trial, I’m doing my transition. ‘Yo, cheers, man. Pass the Courvoisier. Let’s salute to the good things happening.’ ”
Diddy was indirectly responsible for Mary J. Blige’s guest appearance on the funky “There’s Only One.”
“I’ve always had a great vibe with her since her first solo album, What’s the 411 (1992),” Busta said. “P. Diddy had me do two interludes on her album when he was executive producing her albums. We just maintained a good vibe creatively from that point on. … Her schedule was working well with mine, and she heard the beats. She liked the idea, and she was like, ‘I’m gonna come and repay you for the little love you showed me many years ago, Busta Bus. Let’s just keep the growth.’ ”
Fond memories also provoked Busta to remake Public Enemy’s “Shut ‘Em Down” remix.
” ‘Shut ‘Em Down,’ for one, I was a super huge fan of the record,” he said, getting more excited. “When it came, or should I say when Pete Rock’s version came out, it used to destroy everything everywhere. Whether it was in concert, whether it was you just being in a club, whether you were in your car and it came on the radio, just everybody turned into little wilder beasts.
“[Covering it] was just my tribute to hip-hop for the now era,” he continued. “The now generation of hip-hop needs to understand this quality in hip-hop we don’t get anymore. So for one, I did it for that. Number two, I did it as a salute to Chuck D because of how tremendously effective he was with his influences on me and my life with my career.”
As he tells it, there may not have been a “Busta Rhymes” without the P.E. frontman.
“Chuck D gave me my name based on watching me perform,” he said. “He said I reminded him of a football player named Buster Rhymes. I think he played for the [Minnesota] Vikings back in the ’80s. He was just like, ‘Yo, you seem like the football player as an MC. Just the aggressiveness and that strength that you command.’ In addition to everybody asking me to bust a rhyme all the time, it just made sense.
“He helped me understand the concept of what it took to be a well-rounded artist, based on what I was around, seeing how they were handling their business. I plotted my corporate approach of how I gotta handle my business [based on Public Enemy].”