The controversy surrounding the investigation of the tragic shooting that took place during the filming of a Busta Rhymes video took a new turn Friday when New York's Daily News reported that an audio recording of the altercation that led up to the shooting has surfaced.
On February 5, a member of Rhymes' security, Israel Ramirez, was shot and killed outside the Brooklyn, New York, studio where the video was being filmed. According to police, an argument erupted outside of Greenpoint Studios and Ramirez was shot during the fracas. Police have not named any suspects but have said publicly that they want to speak with Rhymes and also G-Unit member Tony Yayo (see "Police Want To Question Busta Rhymes About Fatal Shooting At Video Set"), who sources said was involved in a verbal altercation with Swizz Beatz and members of the Ruff Ryders camp during the filming of the clip. Both Rhymes and Yayo have refused to talk with police about the incident (see "Tony Yayo Won't Speak To Police About Shooting On Busta Video Set, Lawyer Says" and "Busta Rhymes Issues Statement On Bodyguard Shooting").
On Friday (February 24), the Daily News cited an unnamed source who is said to possess an audio recording of the argument that took place on the set, in which Yayo was apparently involved.
According to the paper, a source familiar with the recording believes the fight erupted when members of G-Unit were excluded from appearing in the video, adding that Rhymes seemed to be attempting to defuse the situation. The voice of a third man, whose identity is not clear, is believed to be the shooter. That man is heard calling another man, apparently Rhymes, a "bitch."
The shooting, which took place outside the studio, is not audible on the recording, but the aftermath is. "You can hear screaming and the chaos and the 911 call," the source told the Daily News.
The recording is reportedly being shopped to media outlets with a price tag of $50,000, and has not yet been provided to police or attorneys.
"I hope the person who has this tape or video would cooperate with authorities, especially if it provides evidence in this case," Jerry Schmetterer, spokesperson for the Brooklyn district attorney, told the Daily News. A spokesperson for the New York Police Department said, "It's totally irresponsible of this person to withhold what could be a vital piece of evidence in an active homicide investigation."
NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly has harshly criticized witnesses of the shooting for not coming forward.
Despite the controversy, Busta's label, Interscope, still plans to release the video for the remix of "Touch It." It has already been submitted to video outlets and could begin airing as soon as the beginning of March.
The video begins with Busta and Flipmode member Spliff Starr battling an all-female group of teenage steppers. From there, the video segues into Busta dancing and performing with all six of the guest performers with whom he recorded remixes of "Touch It": Mary J. Blige and her rapping alter-ego Brook, Rah Digga, Missy Elliott, Lloyd Banks, Papoose and DMX. (Elements of the three separate remixes of the song have been edited together for the video.) Each performer is wearing an outfit that matches the color of the set on which they're performing. Other guests in the video also include boxers Winky Wright and Felix Trinidad, reggae singer Sean Paul and DJ Kay Slay.
For his part, Rhymes released two new mixtapes this week, both of which include spoken messages in which he promises to honor Ramirez's memory, as well as that of recently deceased producer Jay Dee, a.k.a. J Dilla (see "Jay Dee — Producer For Common, Busta And Tribe — Dies").
"Before we get into what we about to do, I just want to set it off by saying from this day moving forward, every single thing that I do will be in the loving memory of my n---a Izzy and my n---a J Dilla," Rhymes says at the beginning of The Crown. "Until we meet again, my n---as, rest in peace. Love y'all. Salute."