Busta Rhymes
Face Up

busta1.jpg

By many accounts, Busta Rhymes shouldn’t be here. Not here in suburban Los Angeles, in a spacious recording studio, running through selections from his new album, The Big Bang. His first offering since splitting from Clive Davis’ J Records for Dr. Dre’s Aftermath two years ago, the album is unquestionably the greatest effort of Busta’s career. There’s the hit single, the schizophrenic Daft Punk–sampling “Touch It.” There’s the late Rick James (still here, bitch!) contributing a stripped-down interpolation of his 1981 hit “Ghetto Life.” And Stevie Wonder drops by for “The Storm,” sounding, as Busta hears it, “like he on the street corner standing in the rain with an umbrella in a black leather trench with niggas that are selling crack around him.” Produced by G-Unit’s Sha Money XL, “The Storm” may be the album’s best cut. This is no small feat, considering that there are some half-dozen tracks by Dr. Dre on deck, including one that uses a heartbeat and the sounds of a shovel digging and tossing dirt as instrumentation.

But Busta shouldn’t be here because, by common logic, rap artists shouldn’t be relevant 15 years in. Still, after two albums as part of Leaders of the New School, six solo albums (all but one have achieved platinum status), a couple dozen larger-than-screen music videos, numerous woofer-decimating club hits and countless host-upstaging guest appearances, 34-year-old Busta Rhymes is still at the forefront of the game. His continued success has created a new paradigm of success in the now.

This is what everyone would be focusing on, were it not for the fact that on February 5, a shooting at the star-packed filming for the video to “Touch It (Remix)” left one of his bodyguards, Israel Ramirez, dead. The New York Post, that bastion of journalistic equanimity, ran with the front-page headline “Bling Bling, Bang, Bang” and featured a story that referred to Ramirez as a “bling handler.” In the days following the incident, the New York dailies centered on Rhymes’ lack of cooperation with authorities in the murder investigation, quoting police sources that claimed that the rapper was hiding out in Los Angeles for fear of being subpoenaed. Still, Rhymes made several high-profile New York City appearances, including a performance at radio station Power 105’s March 5 “Birthday Bash,” which means that either the police or the papers—most likely both—are full of shit.
Over the course of two days in Dre’s studio, Rhymes sat with XXL to speak on the life, death and everything in between—including why he feels as if he’s just getting started.

busta2.jpgLet’s talk about the incident at the video shoot, where your bodyguard was killed.

Israel. He displayed a level of love to his friends that was unlike anything that I’ve seen. Iz was the type of dude, if we was going to a club, Iz would get out the car and walk right alongside the door that you was sitting next to, trying to keep you safe like you was the president. He passed away about three days before his 30th birthday. And that day, it was his first day being with us after not being with us for about three weeks. Iz, he didn’t travel with us too often out of town. Iz, he was the dude that would always be there to support those who were out with me all the time, especially if we were away from home for long periods of time.

The shit that I live with that is like the most uncomfortable feeling out of all of this shit, is like, Why on the first day after not being with us for so long does something like that have to happen, being with us? Who in the world would think that such a demon energy could come amongst that love energy and take the life of a man that in no shape, form, or fashion, not in the slightest way contributed to any of what was brought on? I could never answer that question. Every day since that day I been going through this thing that’s been really confusing the shit out of me—because it just doesn’t add up.

Why haven’t you cooperated with the police?
It’s a time and a place for everything. This man’s life—his name, his legacy, who he was—is not going to be misconstrued by the agendas that really don’t have the same value for this man’s life the way we do. I need to be real clear, real patient, real understanding and real focused of the way this situation needs to be dealt with. And I have to consult with a team of people that advises me in the most appropriate manner necessary. I’m not gonna jump out of a project window and kill myself in the process, because that point will serve no purpose to adding to whatever support that I have already obligated, and have already effectively executed, concerning the support that’s needed by my man’s family. I serve no purpose in killing myself in the process of handling the situation in the way that it needs to be handled.

Continue reading this feature in the June 2006 issue of XXL (#81).

  • http://www.murphyprojects.com SHAHEIM ALI

    wHATZ GOOD BUS? YOU, PAPOOSE AND LUPE FIASCO NEED TO DO A JOINT TOGETHER! aight doggy one luv…P.E.A.C.E!

  • mathew

    bus gonna hold down the summer for real!!! that sh** goin multi plat…

  • http://www.thepro.info PROFOUND THE ARTIST

    It looks like this Busta album is gonna be actually hard.
    He fu*kin with the good doctor on this one.

    Back on that NY Shit!!!

    http://www.thepro.info myspace.com/profoundmusic

  • LOVO

    Flip Mode!!! GGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG-Unit!!!!

  • Trigga

    Bus!!! Whut up bro!!!

  • karmeisha

    madd shout outz from a die heart fan…this is your year to shine…keep pumpin dat real shi# on them hatin niggas….

    P.S. I love u with or without the dreads….

    keep it gansta…

  • DOOBIE
  • Teddy Bawno

    So now it takes the word ‘murder’ to sell records? You should all be ashamed of yourselves. Fuck ‘the indsutry’ or ‘the game’ – we’re killing hip-hop by buying into this shit.

  • T.Kimble

    Yo,what the deal Bus!I been a big fan of yours since P.T.A(L.O.N.S).You are the top rapper to me ,word life! Also, hip hops greats show stopper!!! U shut Buffalo,NY down last night at Buff. State College(I was there!4/22/06). I wish i got a chance to holla at u cause,I got BEATS for U(BUS) and The SQUAD. So if u get this message, Holla ! One of your biggest fans T.KIMBLE

  • leo

    umm people that are saying tony yayo is involved in the murder are all retarted. if busta really thought that would he put yayo’s best friend banks on the remix? cops need to stop harassing g-unit.

  • Paul

    Busta’s cool but I’m with that nigga Bubba Sparxxx. No, I mean that nice guy Bubba.

  • http://www.sam-siden.piczo.com Sam

    Yo Busta! I’m youre biggest fan! I live in Norway…you and youre squad should come!!!! HOLLA!

  • Kim E.

    I have nothing but love for Busta, This is without a doubt his year to shine. I wish him nothing but love & success in the future..

  • nicole c

    yo busta ur a busta, if we dont give a damn bout ourselves and community who will, there is a child w/o a father, and hearing u have a team of people, blah, blah, blah will not change it, no justice is too prevalent in our community, and no amount of sales and side talk from pr people and lawyers will ever elevate the hip hop community to be accepted and legitimized!

  • oh boo

    busta, why go into 50 Cent land? boring, i thought you were more orignal than showing your chest and having a posse of 4,000 people. please.

  • blacks301

    all i hear in the interview is blah blah blah….Who killed Izzy man…give it up son…if thats ya man like u say it is…then do whats good…fuck stop snicthing..what about stop killing…sensless murderes for so called hip hop “beef”…this shit is wack…i cant support that

  • rhmn

    busta is waiting to cash in on this situation with all the media attention surrounding it…let this be an example to all of us that think our “niggaz” gone ride for us…fuck that “stop snitching” campaign and lets start to take some inventory and demand accountablity in our communities and stop supporting this nonsense…

  • From BEANTOWN to FLA

    Bus u been killin it from the beginning dont stop the insanity that u keep droppin…ur a f*ckin genious dog..sorry bout ur boy keep ya head he’s in a betta place..1

  • http://myspace.com/keepeace16 Josh Peace

    Busta doin his thing……just got done listening to THE COMING….classic shit….bustas lyrics is still on point…..stay up nigga

  • DIAMOND2567

    IS THIS MAN OUT OF HIS DARN MIND.
    HIS A$$ BETTER BE GLAD THAT WAS NOT MY SON

    Why haven’t you cooperated with the police?
    It’s a time and a place for everything. This man’s life—his name, his legacy, who he was—is not going to be misconstrued by the agendas that really don’t have the same value for this man’s life the way we do. I need to be real clear, real patient, real understanding and real focused of the way this situation needs to be dealt with. And I have to consult with a team of people that advises me in the most appropriate manner necessary. I’m not gonna jump out of a project window and kill myself in the process, because that point will serve no purpose to adding to whatever support that I have already obligated, and have already effectively executed, concerning the support that’s needed by my man’s family. I serve no purpose in killing myself in the process of handling the situation in the way that it needs to be handled.

    THIS IS SOME CRAZY SHIT. THIS MAN CAN HIT PEOPLE IN THE HEAD W/BOTTLES, CALL THE COPS ON HIS WIFE. NO TO MENTOIN HIS A$$ STILL BREATHING BECAUSE OF THIS YOUNGAND HIS STIINK A$$ CAN’T BRING THE PERSON TO TRAIL
    HIS PAY FOR $HIT IS NOT ENOUGH HIS FAMILY NEED THE COLD BLOODED KILLER WHO TOOK THEIR LOVED ONE.
    MY SON WAS KILLED AND I FOUND THAT MOTHERFOCKER.

    BENT OVER BUSTA YOU R NOT A MAN

    ————–
    NEVER LET THE devil STEAL YOUR JOY!!!!!!!

  • Carlito

    Man, why the hell do you think Busta ain’t talkin to the cops. He from the streets like everybody else. You think he gonna talk to the cops? What the hell is that gonna do? Busta is goin through the death of his man, and at the same time he gotta album comin out. Think he wanna be seen as a snitch?

    Trust man, if he ain’t snitchin, someone from his crew gonna ride on that motherfucker. Give it time. Justice will be dealt.

  • maxamill

    I LOVE WHAT BUSTA BRINGS TO THE GAME OF HIP HOP BUT ALL I CAN SAY ABOUT HIS SITUATION IS WHERE IM FROM IF SOMEONE MURDERS YOUR CLOSE FRIEND AND WE KNOW WHO DID IT YEAH WE DONT SNITCH BUT THE REASON THAT IS BECAUSE MORE PEOPLE GET MURDERD OVER SHIT LIKE THAT BUT IF YOU’RE NOT GOING TO DO ANYTHING AT ALL THAT’S SOME BULLSHIT HE BETTER OFF BEING A SNITCH THAN BEING A PUSSY BECAUSE IF I GOT THE LOOT TO PUT A BOUNTY ON A NIGGA THAT KILLED MY HOMEBOY OH WELL! LIKE BIGGIE SAY,SOMEBODY GOTSTA DIE

  • http://xxl.com Taydogg

    Do yo thang Busta I got nothing but Love for ya,every since Leaders of The New School

  • ri067953

    Man-this is sad. How many of us remember the old Busta? Not this hyped up wanna be thug persona he is giving to us now. Remember “Saab Story”? That was the jam back in the day and it was all about partying and having fun. Now, it’s about who got the biggest chain and flyest chick in the video. Busta is now perpetuating an image that will bring about nothing but violence and grief. That is reflected in the incident that happened with his bodyguard. Remember Busta, it might be you who gets hemmed up next time. Remember, you reap what you sow.

  • DAIR

    Bubba Sparxxx aint no nigga

  • http://stewartwarrenscomcast.com tywootang

    First of all let’s have a moment silence 4 my man’z Iz……………… Bus I’m 1 of yo biggest fanz,NEW YORK believe u as well as tha other 49 states,keep yo faith in god @ everythang will fall in place,word from yo biggest fan tywootang

  • J SUN

    BIG UP TO BUS, I’M ALSO A BIG FAN FROM THE L.O.N.S. DAYS, BUT WHEN BUS A BUS DROPS STREET SHIT THATS SHIT IS CRACK. I DONT THINK THERES AN MC OUT THERE THAT CAN KEEP UP WITH MY MAN. THAT “ADDRESS ME AS MISTER” JOINT WITH PAPOOSE IS KILLIN EM KID… R.I.P. IZ…. ONE LOVE

  • C-Hu$$lin

    WHUS REALLY GOOD BUSTA!!!

    EYO PAUL…BUBBA AIN’T NO NIGGA!
    WHUT THE FUCK R U TALKIN ABOUT?

    O.N.E

  • lisa

    Much love to u Busta!!!!! Nigga need to stop killin each other and start working together that’s why Black people are the way they are no Unity.

  • Pingback: Blissfully Clueless » Sour Notes

  • mathew

    busta aint no thug..he messed up joinin g-unit. 50 will mess up yo career once he doesnt need u no more. y end up in jail casue og g-unit stupid beefs. bustas last superb trak was nod yor head. i know this album will be the best wth Nas’ though. dre n bust gonna shut it down this yr!

  • chip

    U motherfuckas shut that shit up about g-unit 50 won’t fuck nobody career and this shit ain’t about motherfuckas it’s about busta not g-unit so keep them niggas out yo mouths

  • Deandre Da Worst

    Da Greatest Rap performer of all time. He Has More Club Bangers than most niggas got songs on their album.
    and like Busta said “While you niggas fighting to be the king of New York, I’m a god to you niggas! And last I checked, god made kings!”
    Deandre Da Worst 3rd Ward H-town,Tx

  • Jenny C

    Seems like Busta is very concerned about his career at this point, and by the looks of it, he refuses to jeopardize it, even if it means bringing closure and justice to Izz. Its sad a mother lost her son, 3 kids lost their father and so many of us lost a friend. It hurts that someone in the attempt to he “hood” ignores this, like Busta has done. Maybe had it been his son, brother, father or friend laying cold he’d have a conscious and speak up.

  • daddy

    daddy not coming home mommy
    no my love is my answer
    can i talk to him
    only in your dreams is what i say
    but what have you said !!!!
    please stop saying that your making sure the kids are ok i do believe u mean ONE KID is ok remember he have THREE(3)

  • pure fire

    NO DISS BUT THIS WAS THE WORST XXL SINCE LIKE O33 IM A HUGE BUSTA FAN BUT THE QUESTIONS WERENT GOOD ENOUGH LIKE WE ALREAYD KNOW ABOUT THE SHOOT OUT ASK HIM ABOUT BETTER THINGS IKE HOW COME HE GOT SO HUEGE….STEROIDS
    AND WHY DID HE CHANGE UP THE FLOW A LIL….PAP GHOST WRITING OR GAME?
    AND WHY IS FLIP MODE WORST THEN D12 NO DISS R.I.P. PROOF

  • daddy

    HOW CAN U ASK ME 2 BE CONCERNED ABOUT HIS WEIGHT OR ANYTHING ELSE IN THAT MANNER WHEN I HAVE TO LAY AND ANSWER ? AFTER ????????AND CAN’T ANSWER IT

    NOW AGAIN ASK ME THAT ?????

  • ike

    wassup with LABBA?

  • Sincere

    If you dont handle your handle Bus ….gotta turn my back on ya!

  • Bionca

    Hey busta I wanted to know that do you have a fammily member name Roshana Burns. If you do thats my boo.

  • http://xxlmag.com wigga_hata

    a bisexual nigga repen nyc u eastcoast bitches is getten a better rep everytime.

  • nelly

    busta is a fucken homo cocksmoker

  • http://forum.buffalostate.edu/index.php?showuser=26832 haircuts and hairstyles

    I loved as much as you will receive carried out right here. The sketch is attractive, your authored material stylish. nonetheless, you command get bought an nervousness over that you wish be delivering the following. unwell unquestionably come further formerly again as exactly the same nearly a lot often inside case you shield this hike.

  • http://www.spike.com/video-clips/n304oz/do-you-wanna-massage-this-hot-asian-girl asian full body massgae

    Unquestionably believe that which you stated. Your favorite justification appeared to be on the web the simplest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I certainly get irked while people think about worries that they just do not know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and defined out the whole thing without having side effect , people can take a signal. Will probably be back to get more. Thanks

  • http://kimkhan.com/mywiki/DonnaIkyc fashion

    Excellent post. I was checking continuously this blog and I am impressed! Extremely helpful info specially the last part :) I care for such information a lot. I was looking for this particular information for a long time. Thank you and best of luck.