NEW YORK Platinum-selling rapper Busta Rhymes says his next album, The Anarchy, will be his most personal to date and will mark his return to a more traditional hip-hop sound than some past projects.
"The focus for me is bringing out, completely, everything that I'm feeling, considering my emotions first this time," he said Tuesday (June 13) after a press conference at the Harbor Footwear showroom in midtown Manhattan, where he introduced his own line of GBX shoes, which he helped design.
The album, which he said is nearly complete, will depart from the stylistic stretches of his recent work. The rapper will return to a "core" hip-hop sound after recording crossover tracks for past projects with artists such as heavy-metal icon Ozzy Osbourne and R&B songstress Janet Jackson.
The Anarchy will be released toward the end of the year, Busta Rhymes said.
At the press conference, Busta Rhymes (born Trevor Smith) wore a pair of brown shoes from his new Bushi line and covered his trademark dreadlocks with a floppy white hat bearing the shoes' logo. He spoke freely, if often enigmatically, about the upcoming album, which will be his fourth solo release.
The personal focus of The Anarchy ties in with its title, according to Busta Rhymes. "This album is the album where there's no rulership, no government the anarchy," he said. "The only thing that [can] lead you when there's no leadership, no government, no system, is your own [self]."
The 26-year-old rapper acknowledged that it might seem early for him to have nearly completed a new album, since his most recent LP, Extinction Level Event The Final World Front, just hit stores in December. But he's entered a highly creative and prolific period in recent years, he explained.
"After doing it for so long, you know what you want, you know what you feel, you know how to express it," he said. "It becomes a science. ... You start to finesse it and master it."
The new LP, in fact, will be the culmination of his work, he suggested. "This is the mastering of everything that I've been learning and growing to become."
At the same time, the artist plans to change his sound radically on the CD. "I gotta give people the Busta Rhymes they're used to, but then, that just allows them to be sucked into embracing the new Busta Rhymes," he said.
He will go to "the core of hip-hop authenticity," abandoning some of his recent stylistic stretches, which included the duet with Osbourne on the track "This Means War!!" (RealAudio excerpt), a refashioning of the Black Sabbath heavy-metal touchstone "Iron Man."
Dennis Lazare, the president of Harbor Footwear, which will put out Busta Rhymes' new line of shoes, cited the rapper's authenticity as the reason the shoe company agreed to a collaboration.
"We hope to use his attitude and direction in our marketing," Lazare said.
The new shoes, which come in both hiking and evening-wear models, reflect Busta Rhymes' longtime interest in fashion. "I want to look as good as I feel all the time," the rapper said. On the podium, he played the role of product pitchman, grinning broadly as he answered questions about such subjects as his favorite color which he said was either buck tan, red or royal blue.
Afterward, Busta Rhymes said he wasn't concerned about losing his street credibility, whether through commercial ventures such as his new shoes or through pop hits including his recent collaboration with soul diva Jackson on the song "What's It Gonna Be?!"
"At the end of the day, them same cats in the streets are still receiving Busta Rhymes quite well," he said. "I'm never gonna compromise who I am, despite the mainstream appeal or the opportunities I'm gonna get to capitalize on it commercially."
Rhymes, a former member of the rap group Leaders of the New School, first came to solo prominence in 1994 when he added his rhymes to A Tribe Called Quest's "Scenario" and the remix of rapper Craig Mack's "Flava in Ya Ear."
Beginning with his 1996 hit "Woo-Hah!! Got You All in Check" (RealAudio excerpt), Rhymes became one of hip-hop's biggest stars and most distinctive personalities. Now, he is unapologetically reaching for the broadest audience possible, he said.
"I'm rapping for the whole entire galaxy to hear my sh-- beyond the earth. Aliens can rock to my sh--," he boasted. "I wanna be an underground hip-hop muthaf---er that can be a phenomenally great star without having to compromise that underground hip-hop chemistry. And I've never had to."