Together, they made it. Busta Rhymes, Linkin Park and producers Cool & Dre proved that teamwork can reach across the world. The three collaborated for Busta Rhymes' new single, "We Made It."
"The [beat for the] Linkin Park record was given to me by Cool & Dre about seven months ago," Busta explained in a desolate building outside of Los Angeles on the set of the song's video. "I'm on a bus ride from New York to L.A., about 38 hours. Every time I'm on the bus, I listen to the collective of beats I get for my album, just to vibe. We was listening to that song one day when I heard the beat. Cool & Dre had the chorus on there. I was like, 'This record is one of the biggest anthems,' because it felt like it was speaking to the common man. It wasn't exploiting what we usually exploit in hip-hop: the ass, throwing money, rims on the car. At this time in my career, it felt like something was needed, something inspirational. It speaks to the man in the struggle from the 'hood to the upper echelon."
The video for "We Made It" was filmed at the same location where Linkin Park were photographed for their Meteora artwork. The connection goes back further than that, though. Busta first met Linkin Park when they were mixing their first album, Hybrid Theory, and Bus showed love to the up-and-coming squadron.
"Normally, I'm a little skeptical going into hip-hop tracks," Mike Shinoda said as he finished filming a scene in which he plays the piano. "This is the very first time Linkin Park have been featured on anybody else's song. We did the mash-up project with Jay-Z, but that was featuring his music and our music. It's an entirely different thing. What that all comes down to is the strength of the track. That's due in part to Cool & Dre and in part to Busta. When we came in, we did our thing to it and added that next level of something new and different. Each party had a mutual appreciation.
"We were touring in Asia at the time," he added. "We cut a lot of our parts in a studio in Taipei. It kinda fit the theme of the song 'We Made It.' We're recording vocals in China, halfway across the world. He's in New York and L.A. doing his thing. On this track, I got to know Busta a little better. He's very much that character, that personality that you see. But there is a side of him that's very humble and down-to-earth that other people don't get to see."
A couple of years ago, Busta Rhymes became associated with something longtime followers of his career never expected: crime. Whether it was the murder of his friend Israel Ramirez or his own multitude of run-ins with the police, the usually jovial Bus encountered major strife. With everything behind him, he's decided to change the title of his summer release from Back on My Bullsh-- (he insists the title, which was thought up by producer Pharrell Williams, will be the name of his next album) to Blessed.
" 'Blessed' sounded more right," Busta said on the set as director Chris Robinson filmed scenes outside. "It was the perfect way of giving thanks to how blessed I really have been. My last two years have been unnecessarily rigorous. A bunch of unpleasant things have been going on. Just getting past all of that, I felt I was truly blessed.
"They send a lot of our people to jail," he added. "I'm not just talking about black people, I'm talking about rap artists. You got [Mobb Deep's] Prodigy, Remy [Ma] in jail. T.I. with his recent situation. It's unfortunate and feels in an obvious way that we're being targeted for a lot of things, primarily because we're recording artists. I had four pending cases at one time. For me to be able to not have to endure any jail time, to get past that situation with just probation, I wanna just show my appreciation. It's the best feeling in the world. I'm happy. I'm in the best space of my life."
Blessed will be released July 1.