After garnering credits as an executive producer on Raekwon’s critically acclaimed Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, Pt. 2, and dropping his own solo album, Back on My B.S. (B.O.M.B.) last year, Busta Rhymes is hard at work making waves for 2010. Already working on his next project, The Chemo, the hip-hop veteran is in New York City perusing through a stack of images while on the set of a photo shoot for Venom Energy Drink. As the brand’s latest spokesman, the hyperactive MC is pumped for another profitable year as an artist and businessman. XXLMag.com caught up with the living legend to discuss his upcoming album, his return to Hollywood and helping Raekwon craft a modern day classic. Everything remains raw.
XXLMag.com: You dropped B.O.M.B. last May and are already knocking out The Chemo. What’s the thought process behind putting out a new album so quickly?
Busta Rhymes: The reason I decided to come with another album so quickly is because I was inspired. There’s music coming out lately that’s definitely inspired me to want to stay in the studio.
XXLMag.com: What’s the meaning behind the name of the new album?
Busta Rhymes: The thing that I want to primarily get across through the name of the album is there are many stages of chemotherapy, depending on the level of cancer existing in someone. The life line of the way we value hip-hop overall, knit picking songs… it’s completely misconstrued the value of the content and I think that’s definitely something that’s contributed to the slow death that not even hip-hop but the music industry is encountering. I want to do whatever it is on my part to contribute to that initial treatment to start inspiring others to go in the direction necessary so that we can all collectively save the music industry.
XXLMag.com: Being that your goal is to inspire other artists, who are you actually working with on the record?
Busta Rhymes: I don’t want to disclose the cameos but I do have records with people like Wyclef. Salaam Remi did the record that me and Wyclef did. Big up to Trey Songz, Chris Brown, P. Diddy and Dirty Money… Again, I don’t know who and what’s going to end up on the [final] album because a lot of it is contingent on clearances… I’m still in the process so we’ll know in time.
XXLMag.com: You mentioned Salaam Remi, what other producers have you worked with so far?
Busta Rhymes: I got a lot of great people coming to the table on the production level, so far Focus, Rockwilder, Nottz, the legendary, late, great J Dilla, DJ Scratch, Cool & Dre, the Runners… those are just the names of a few of the people that’s come to the table… Oh, and Dr. Dre came to the table again.
XXLMag.com: Raekwon has gotten various accolades for his last album, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, Pt. 2, which you served as executive producer for. How did that situation come about?
Busta Rhymes: Raekwon and I were at a festival backstage having a real heart to heart conversation from a fan perspective. I invited him back to my studio in Tribeca, downtown Manhattan and when he came by I had music pulled for him that I thought felt like the closest thing to [the original] Cuban Linx and we started it like that. He came by with a fifth of Ketel One vodka, he started throwing shots back, and he started getting busy. One song led to four songs, four songs, led to 12 songs, 12 songs led to 30 songs, and by the time he was really starting to find himself and get in that space mentally he was about 40, 50 records in.
XXLMag.com: What happened with the Aftermath deal?
Busta Rhymes: I was still on Aftermath at the time and I tried to broker the deal for it to come through Aftermath because I felt like it would be historic for the album to come under the guidance of Dr. Dre, Rza and Busta Rhymes. With that being said an eight-month negotiation took place and for whatever the reason the deal didn’t happen. But Raekwon and Dre made so much hot shit it was just like this album can’t be shelved so the buzz was circulating, and so much support came for the project that inspired all of us to deliver.
XXLMag.com: In addition to your moves in music, you recently signed on as a spokesman for Venom Energy Drinks. How’d that deal come about?
Busta Rhymes: I did a deal with Venom because I’m a fan of the brand, and I think it exemplifies what Busta Rhymes represents in that high energy. The business deal was phenomenal and they were allowing me to represent the product the way I see it fit for Busta Rhymes to represent the product. I’m not being contrived or put in a boundary that compromises my comfort zone and all of those things were appealing to me in the process of doing a deal with Venom.
XXLMag.com: Last month you made your return to the big screen with Breaking Point what else can we look forward to from you in Hollywood?
Busta Rhymes: I’m in the process of closing the deal for a Fox channel television series about being a boxer. I’m co-starring in a series, tentatively called “Lights Out.” A lot of great things are definitely coming to play for me. I’m in a great creative space. —Rosario Mercedes Velazquez