Blow The Whistle: On Busta Rhymes

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There was a story on TMZ a couple of days ago about Trevor Smith aka rapper Busta Rhymes and how a lawsuit that he was involved in has finally been settled. The lawsuit revolved around him launching a carton of protein shake powder at another man. It hit some other man. That other man sued Busta Rhymes. I don’t care enough to know what happened after that. The last time I saw Busta Rhymes before now he was sitting in the audience of some awards show. I just remember how bad he looked. It made me sad.

Now, as some of you may not know, there was a time when Busta Rhymes was regarded as a top-notch lyricist. One of the best rappers you could hire to guest star on your record.

Busta Rhymes’ career began as 25% of the group Leaders of the New School. Busta immediately stood out, and after 2 critically acclaimed albums, the group went their separate ways. The split actually happened in real-time on Yo! MTV Raps in 1993. wpid-b646e6a2440b492c9bb568f6fb16ce8d.jpgBusta Rhymes stuck around, doing hella guest work, as all out of work rappers should when the time calls, eventually dropping his first solo album. From there, it was — as the young people say — on and poppin’.

Busta’s list of solid rap albums and noteworthy guest appearances is enough to solidify him as one of the greatest rap voices ever. And I’m not even going to try and list the amount of features his done since the 90s. Let’s just put it like this: name a favorite rapper from the the past 20, 25 years. Busta Rhymes has performed with them. He has rapped over beats from just about every “hot” producer from every era of rap beat-making since at least 1994, not counting the last 5 or so years. In theory, he has survived 2 or 3 generations of Hip Hop. His albums — 5 of the 8 have sold 1 million or more copies apiece — are regarded as classics, and though he hasn’t won many awards, he has been nominated and mentioned dozens of times during his career. And Busta has appeared in a truckload of critically acclaimed films, including John Singleton’s Higher Learning, Forest Whitaker’s Strapped, Halloween, and others.

So why are we blowing the whistle?

Woo-Ha. Gimme Some More. Fire It Up. Etc. What do these incredibly popular Busta Rhymes songs have in common? None of them were talking about a damn thing. That is most of his catalog. Busta Rhymes raked in tons of dough off of the sweaty backs of songs that made zero sense whatsoever. And we danced the night way to it.

His style of comeuppance is very similar to his kindred spirit rapper, Missy Elliott. They both dazzled and wowed us with fancy visual effects and frenetic vocal arrangements, sneakily deploying empty, calorie-less bars like diet chocolate. Busta knew it, too. Notice how each album’s lyrical content upsurges from the last. The wording schemes became more complex. He piled more syllables into his stanzas. That’s because, unlike his contemporaries who spat lines about money, hoes, and clothes, Busta seemed more like he just gathered a bunch of words together, and played Mad Libs over a beat. He distracted us like cleavage with robot dancing and pre-Meek Mill rap yelling. Scream Hop, if you will.

Who amongst us can forget that Busta started trying to convince us that Armageddon was descending about halfway through the last LONS album T.I.M.E? He carried that apocalyptic theme throughout the remainder of his career. Could he really see the future? Clearly, no. Perhaps it was a ploy launched as a safety net for the lack of raps. If he could make us believe the sky was falling, we’d be more concerned with him giving Last Day narratives than with him dropping clever bars and witty lyrics.

Or Maybe he believed his own end times hyperbole and based his level of lyrical output on the amount of time he thought we had left on Mother Earth. That actually makes total sense. Also of mention was his cutting edge sense of fashion. His clothing line Bushi didn’t last long, but that doesn’t matter. He made it OK for rap guys to rock Dr. Seuss hats, and that haberdashery-based achievement overshadows them all.

Further proof of Trevor Smith being a trailblazer was his hairstyle. He was surely rocking dreads before they became a fashion statement. By this account, Lupe Fiasco and Chief Keef should mention Busta Rhymes when asked who inspires them.

Kudos and touché, Trevor Smith. Sometime within the past few years, you have officially joined the ranks of rappers we can’t escape like LL Cool J and Snoop Dogg.

Make no mistake; Busta Rhymes is a legend. He’s responsible for dozens of still-listenable party anthems, gave us the Flipmode Squad, and introduced the world to Rah Digga and Spliff Star (the greatest weed carrier of all time). With his wide-mouthed, turbo-charged, often-off beat yammering and on-camera karate-chopping tutorials, Busta also changed the landscape of your run-of-the-mill rap video. For what it’s worth, he made rapping look fun.

So while we do blow the whistle on Busta for stealthily shoveling volumes of super-average raps into our subdued subconsciousness for years, his greatness can’t be denied. I bet you still say “Woo Ha!” from time to time, don’t you?

For more Blow The Whistle, click here.

Words by Tony Grands
@Tony_Grands

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Too Real For the Game: A Salute To MMG’s Gunplay

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Words by Cordrick Ramey

Every once in awhile, hip hop stumbles across a figure who is here, but not too sure if he should be here. Not to say they don’t belong, but just too real for the game. Maybe you still can’t follow, but I’m thinking along the lines of your Project Pats, Gucci Manes, Ol’ Dirty Bastards and Beanie Sigels. Dudes who just happen to know how to rhyme. They had other occupations.

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Rapper Appreciation Wednesday: James “LL Cool J” Smith

Ladies Love Cool James, born James Todd Smith in 1968, encountered rap stardom at the age of 17, when he dropped his debut album Radio. Fueled by the album’s most heralded songs, “Radio” and “I Need Love,” Cool J eventually become Hip Hop’s sex symbol and resident tough guy simultaneously. Hes even survived rap beefs with legends like Kool Moe Dee, Ice-T, and, most notably, Canibus.

30 years and 13 albums later, James has a veritable barrage of hit records under his belt, and unlike the majority of his contemporaries, he’s still making music. When he’s not on set or beating down intruders.

Today, we give flowers to LL Cool J for all the hard work he’s done. Thanks, James.

*Editor’s note: I challenge you to find a picture of LL with hair.

I’m Bad

I Need Love

Murdergram

Mama Said Knock You Out

Doin’ It

Big Ole Butt

Jingling Baby

Rock The Bells

Goin Back To Cali

To The Breakdown

— Tony Grands

White Iverson and the Black Lives Matter Movement

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Remember a couple of years ago, when it seemed that White guys were taking over rap music? Mac Miller, Macklemore, even the oft-putting Yelawolf were all descending upon the Hip Hop culture at breakneck speed and even though there were voices against their imminent contact, they landed with relatively no damage done. Everyone is still safe. Years later, after the proverbial smoke had been comfortably settled, the Internet’s trolls have struck again, this time targeting new White kid on the block, Post Malone.

Malone is best known for his internet hit “White Iverson,” and as surely as his nominal celebrity stock began to climb, there has been an attempt to pull him back down a few pegs. It never fails. A clip has been “leaked” of him saying nigga as he watches cute kitten videos with a questionably overstimulated friend.

The 7-second clip has been looped below so you don’t misinterpret what Young Malone is muttering.

Right on cue, the sanctified Hip Hop nation sank their claws into Post Malone, even though the clip is some odd years old, condemning him for doing what he’s probably been doing for God-knows-how-long: appropriating Black culture to the point of recognized actuality. What that means is that he’s likely been “acting Black” for so long that he’s on a Rachel Dolezal level of self-awareness. Augmented reality in a sense. He said “nigga” because in his world, he is a nigga. Just look at his presentation. He perceives the Hip Hop culture as what he projects, and before we blame anyone for his seemingly intrepid identity crisis, realize that we aren’t the first group of African-Americans to witness his routine, if I may call it that. He’s passed hundreds, if not thousands of brothers and sisters over the years who assumedly had numerous opportunities to pull his coattails about his Blackface lifestyle. Nope. Didn’t happen. And by my calculations, it won’t happen. I doubt he’ll ever say I the n-word again publicly, but it won’t be because he’s been socially rehabilitated, it’ll be to avoid all this hassle. (But hey, all publicity is good publicity, so there’s that.)

I don’t see what the problem was to begin with. Obviously he was accepted by Hip Hop with open arms, like many Black-washed rappers before him, so why cry over spilled milk? No pun intended. These are the children of the Hip Hop Internet. Our babies.

I’m more concerned with the rap community’s lack of public support for the Black Lives Matter movement than I am about this kid calling some kittens nigga. I’m more disturbed by the number of BLM-inspired anthems and protest songs than I am about Post Malone emulating Jay Z or Schoolboy Q. For the Hip Hop nation to light up with scathing backlash toward Malone but continue to remain relatively quiet on what is arguably the second coming of the fight for civil rights is nothing short of mind-blowing. And for what it’s worth, I don’t expect rappers (or any other artists) to become activists or politicians for convenience, but as the issue of police brutality evolves into an issue of human rights, people who are blessed with a platform should at least grant others the access to it if they don’t want to use it themselves. It isn’t necessary for one to make waves to make a statement. All you have to do is make a move.

Hip Hop has always had its own freedom fighters, and aside from the astute X-Clan/Public Enemy/Poor Righteous Teachers/Paris days of rebel rap music, the rapper has always been more of a social standout than a purported political spokesperson. Ask any rapper that gets paid for his skill and he’ll quickly tell you that there’s no money in fighting the power, however there are still pockets of artists sprinkled throughout the rap game who decide to hunt for truth and justice.

Overall, it seems the message has gotten to burdensome for the messenger to bear, so it goes uncarried. Meanwhile we’re calling Post Malone a racist, which he clearly isn’t, and his braids are proof of that.

And shout out to Macklemore for helping the old school eat while those that truly benefit from their door-opening have no idea who they even are.

— Tony Grands

Rapper Appreciation Wednesday: Pete Rock And CL Smooth

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Hailing from Mt. Vernon, NY, pioneer Hip Hop duo Pete Rock and CL Smooth hit the scene in 1989 with their debut EP The Good Life. Pete Rock, the group’s producer, has gone on to produce a slew of classic Hip Hop songs, and CL is still regarded as one of the best MCs to ever grace the mic.

Today we show appreciation for their contributions to Hip Hop music over the years.

Lots of Lovin

The Creator

Straighten It Out

Take You There

T.R.O.Y

Good Life

Sun Won’t Come Out

All the Places

Take You There

Searchin’

Mecca & The Soul Brother

Carmel City

The Main Ingredient

— Tony Grands