By Bree Davies
By Emerald O'Brien
By Gina Tron
By Jon Solomon
By Drew Ailes
By Courtney Harrell
By Kyra Scrimgeour
"My vibe switch is on right now," says Busta Rhymes, one of the most vital personalities to break out of the hip-hop scene in eons. "So I can't stop. Because when your vibe switch is off, you can't do shit about it until the vibe comes back and you can turn your shit back on again."
Circular logic like this is Busta's trademark, both in conversation and on The Coming, his scorching, soon-to-be-certified-platinum solo debut. At first he seems to be making sense. Then he seems to be making no sense. And finally, he seems to be making sense even when he sounds nonsensical. It's a neat trick that Rhymes manages to pull off through sheer force of will. Succinctly put, he's a blast to be around--and he hopes to be around for a long, long while.
"For me, I don't look at a time frame," he announces in his beguilingly gruff, smoky voice. "Because the creative ability has no limit other than the limit you create for it. If a motherfucker is looking at himself thinking he's not going to last, he won't. I don't know how long my battery's going to last, but I know as long as my shit stays charged, I'm going to continue to do my thing.
"I want to be the nigga 25 or 30 years in the future, where I'm not only making crazy money off the publishing for my music, but I'm still able to blow up on the spot. I just want to be accepted by the young motherfuckers in 2020 or some shit. I want to be that motherfucker from this century that brings the shit to the next century, the next lifetime. I want to offer all of these things to the music fan, so that's why I'm talking to the masses. You know what I'm saying?"
If you don't, the tongue-in-cheek introduction that kicks off The Coming should enlighten you. Against the backdrop of sci-fi sounds, a Rudy Ray Moore sound-alike nicknamed Lord Have Mercy intones, "Approximately 11:30 p.m., a black child was born. Upon his arrival and rapid growth, being exposed to the many casualties of the streets, he has now realized what must be done. He must bring the ruckus to all you motherfuckers. He must bring the ruckus to all you motherfuckers! HE MUST BRING THE RUCKUS TO ALL YOU MOTHERFUCKERS!"
This dramatic declaration suggests prime P-Funk--which is precisely what Rhymes had in mind. "One of my inspirations, without a doubt, comes from George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic," he enthuses. "I think he was one of the most rare artists that I've been able to live to see in entertainment as a whole. He's like the original of his kind, the father of his kind--and that's what I want to be. I want to be the father of my kind of artist. I want to use my understanding to create my own kind of thing, so the next school of motherfuckers who come up after me can build on it. I want to make timeless shit.
"Your album is your world. It's all your point of view. It's all of your experiences, it's all of your affiliations, it's all of your you. So you try to structure and paint a picture that the world can see. But that's not all. I try to capture things so that not only do you see it, but you can feel it and you can hear it through the music. That's the way you try to affect the mind frame of people."
The Coming accomplishes Rhymes's goal, and then some. Highlights include "Ill Vibe," in which he holds his own in the company of Q-Tip from A Tribe Called Quest (see page 65), and "Abandon Ship," a tough swipe at people who say one thing and do another that features key Rhymes collaborator Rampage the Last Boy Scout. The tracks that have received the most attention thus far, however, are the ones in which Busta gets crazy. "It's a Party," featuring rhythm-and-blues crooners Zhane, delivers a sly invitation to get loose, while "Woo Hah!! Got You All in Check" is an eccentric number that might even put a smile on Bob Dole's face. (Well, maybe not.) These throwdowns, coupled with videos in which Rhymes wears his dreads in a cinammon-roll 'do that recalls Carrie Fisher in Star Wars, have led some to inaccurately label him as a novelty artist. He claims to be unconcerned about winning such a reputation.
"I don't worry about that at all," he insists, "because I think my credibility is established beyond that one thing. I sound serious on some records, I sound like the most fun motherfucker to be around on other records, and sometimes I sound like the angriest individual you can imagine. I don't feel like I draw on one particular energy whatsoever. I'm trying to do all kinds of different things as I represent hip-hop music. I can go from hardcore to sweet and tender to intense and rectifying."
"The Finish Line" demonstrates his versatility. The song is a doomy piece replete with a funky hook and an emphasis on street authenticity epitomized by the lines "All those of you out here fronting/Misleading your people/ Acting other than you really are/It will catch up with you."