Murder To XXLence: Busta Rhymes
The party doesn’t stop for Busta Rhymes. Over 20 years in the game, he’s making new hits and getting new money. Cash Money. Bussa Bus just inked a deal with Cash Money as well as Google music to put out new material such as the recently released Chris Brown featured track, “Why Stop Now.” Here, Bus talks to XXLMag.com about why he’s never wanted to stop, and why he’s ready for all competition. —Shaheem Reid
2011 was a monumental year for you. “Look At Me Now” was a number one blockbuster, you made it onto Tha Carter IV, and had various bangers of your own. What is your assessment of the last year?
I actually haven’t assessed it. Outside of the obvious, it’s definitely been a blessed year. An amazing year. I can definitely see a different awareness level a different momentum, a different excitement. This is like another one of my highlighted moments of my career run. I’ve had these runs several times. It started off really in a whole other dynamic as of New Years Eve night. As of 12 midnight when Flex posted that “Look At Me Now” on www.inflexwetrust.com, since midnight of the New Year. I was the Cosmopolitan hotel looking at the Jay-Z/Cold Play concert. We was all suited up. We go into every New Year feelin like we got our plans for greatness and goals. And I went into this year knowing that we ain't taking any prisoners this time and we gonna have fun. It’s a great thing seeing that its been successfully executed and the people are embracing it. They’re seeing it, they’re supportive of it. Niggas love it. I haven’t had a chance to assess until now that I'm speaking to you. I just love doing what I love. I'm a rapper’s rapper. I’m a MC. I’m a fan of the music. I’m a fan of just hearing… I like hearing myself on shit. I like to her myself on beats that I love, that I feel that’s gonna fuck the building up. Songs that will fuck the situation in whatever settings it’s in. the club, the car, somebody cleaning up their crib, on a one on one level I like to make sure the effect is on the same dynamic. I like that niggas is respecting it as it should be respected as.
As popular as “Look At Me Now” is, I don’t think anyone has asked you how you got on the song to begin with?
The Chris Brown record, it was weird because it was right place at the right time situation. We were all in the studio in New York. I had my older son in the studio with me. My oldest son is like 6’7”, plays ball. This is the three year old from the “Woo-Ha” video. He’s 18 now. He’s on his college shit. You know Chris Brown played ball that weekend, DJ Clue, Fabulous and a couple of them brothers played ball in Chelsea Piers. So Chris Brown was in the studio, my son was in the studio with me and they were talking about playing ball. We worked it out so they could play ball with Clue and Chris Brown and Fabulous and them. While that was happening, we were mixing “The Mechanic (Remix)” for Reek The Villain. Nelly is on the remix and he had a session in the studio next door. He came into our session to approve how he sounded on the mix. In terms of how his vocals were leveled. When he came in the room, he came into the room with Chris Brown.
We all chopped it up and Nelly and Chris Brown went into Nelly’s session. We was like fuck it, Nelly came into our session, we gonna go into Nelly’s session to show love. Chris Brown was playing the “Look At Me Now” joint for Nelly. At that time, it only had Chris Brown’s voice on it. I don’t know if Chris Brown had in mind who he wanted to use or not. I came over to him like, “This shit is stupid. You doing that speed rap shit, let me show you how to keep the dice rolling while you doing that thing homie.” The niggas stopped me and said, “Yo Bus, stop me in the middle of my shit on the speed rap. And say the same thing and go into your shit and black out.” With that little direction, I blacked out, sent in to him and he loved it. I didn’t hear the song again until the night before it got to Flex and it had Tunechi on it. At that point, I knew niggas was in trouble. It was a definitely a great situation that came about. I big up Wayne and Chris Brown for letting us come together and making some historical shit come about.
What is it like for you, a veteran in the game, to gain new, young fans that may not even have been alive when a record like “Woo Ha” was out?
That shit is always a great thing because it’s a testament of how timeless we’re capable of being as artists. It puts us at a whole level of respect as far as our peers in other genres of music and from an executive standpoint. Defining timeless is something you can’t put a price tag on. As long as you keep yourself fresh and current and open and the one to set the standards, the opportunity on every level that's created is limitless. As far as inspiring people all the way down to be a lucrative cash cow and generating revenue for Fortune 500 corporate America.
I’ve known you for almost ten years. And every conversation we’ve had, you’ve always expressed a passion for making music. Anybody that hears your records, can hear the hunger like it’s 1990 or 1991. But have you ever lost interest in making music for a period of time? Have you ever gotten tired of the music game?
I never got that feeling yet. I don’t put age on music. I don’t think no one has been able to put age on music. We may have been able to put age on a sound or particular style of music. But we’ve never been able to put age on music. Music has always been something that the closest example of exemplifying timelessness for every generation that has come to past or will come to past in the future. It’s something about that shit that documents a moment in time that never gets old to the people that that moment in time is significant too. For some reason, that moment in time gets carried on to the net generation. Our parents always love their Smokey Robinson shit. Even though we love our current shit, we always respect that Smokey Robinson, James Brown, Otis Redding as you can see today happening with the Jay-Z/ Kanye record. It don’t matter how the music changes, that element of going in the crate of digging up some shit from the ’50s and the ’60s and ’70s and sampling it and bring into a current state of swag that makes it appreciated by the now generation. So even though we got our now shit, we respect that shit was before us and we pass it on. You may have a handful of muthafuckas that don’t appreciate the old shit, because we have to find our own shit. I make sure I keep my finger on the pulse of what’s going on with the current. I’m a make sure I value the importance of what’s needed to go in the future. I make it a conscious effort to set a standard in addition to being in tune with the current. Once I lock that shit in, I make sure I bring some of the tradition with me.
I was just talking to NORE and he told me of how you inspired him to make some of his new music. Lil Cease has said the same thing. Everyone knows how you were inspirational to Raekwon in making Cuban Linx Part II. Who inspires you?
Brothers like you do that. You calling me to tell me you want to do an article like that is an inspiration. Our brother Sway, gives me those conversations. Q-Tip gives me those conversations. Diddy gives me those conversations. I don’t know if you know, but it’s quite obvious, Khaled’s inspiration is unprecedented.
Khaled, I call him the Hip-Hop Vince Lombardi. He’ll have you feeling like you can run through five brick walls.
He needs to be a coach. Khaled's talk game makes you feel like you’re the greatest ever. Spliff star and my immediate family, they don’t let me make wrong moves Those are niggas I worked many years and surrounded myself with that aren’t the cliché “yes men” niggas. That say shit that they feel they need to say to secure themselves amongst the circle. I have people that genuinely care. They’re like, “I know you have to turn that verse in tomorrow, why don’t you go to bed, wake up and listen to it with fresh ears?”
It sounds like you can go for another 20 years.
I’ve been blessed to be in this shape for a long time, but from young. I'm still a 38, 39 year old nigga. I have a lot of peers that are older than me. At the end of the day, I can only speak for me, I'm just finding a new fresh powers source that’s gonna make things a lot more difficult for niggas if they wanna stand next to me and compete. I take great pleasure and great pride in respectfully competing. I don’t know it no other way; as long as everybody keeps it respectful.
You told me your new partnership with Google Music as a “chess move that leads by example and sets the template for the new 21st century artists.”
It’s displaying a new way of releasing music. It’s gonna be a grand, festive moment for hip-hop overall. It’s show people how greatly we can look forward to the growth of doing this shit the way it’s supposed to be. I couldn’t be more grateful for a better time in my career and evolution process at this point.
You talk about releasing music in a new format. I think what Jay and Kanye did was genious by releasing Watch The Throne digitally first and not having leaks. It’s up to people like yourself and the OGs of the game to show the new artists the way of doing it. From the start of your career with Leaders of the New School. That name doesn’t die because the group is not here. People still look at you to be a leader such as this new way of doing business.
I’m real glad you touched on that. Being in Five Percent, I was always told that the name you have as Five Percent is not just your name, but your attribute. The attribute is something you live by. You gotta live that name when we got that name leaders of the new school, it was just something that sounded cool, its something we wanted to live. The fact that you’re acknowledging that attributes being timeless and beyond the group’s demise is rewarding for me. It is exactly how I prioritize in the way I go about the decision-making processes both professionally and personally. I wanna always lead new shit. I want to always be the leader of the new shit. I wanna introduce things.