After another long hiatus between albums – this time, three years since “The Big Bang” – Busta Rhymes is finally able to drop his latest long play, “Back On My B.S.” which shall be henceforth be referred to as BOMBS (ooh, clever). “The Big Bang” shot to the top of the charts, helped in part by the monster single “Touch It” and being “supported” by Dr. Dre’s Aftermath label. Yet the sales hit a plateau, and, somewhat predictably, being signed to Dre proved pointless (if your name isn’t Eminem or 50 Cent). Can Busta confound the low expectations and drop a great album?
By now you should be aware of the usual smash Busta single in support of the LP… Oh, there doesn’t appear to be one. Whilst “Arab Money” provided a good bit of fun, it certainly wasn’t the universal club banger that he always drops. Put simply, there genuinely isn’t one. If that wasn’t shocking enough, it also turns out that Busta Bust has dropped an album that is seriously enjoyable to listen to, over and over again. BOMBS proves to be more even, more consistent than “The Big Bang” – even if it contains no palpable hit singles.
There is the right mix of street anthems, humour, self-awareness and, well, bullshit. The production is a cut above solid throughout, and whilst the album is surely destined to fail commercially, BOMBS proves to be one of his best musical albums, easily. Ron Browz seems reinvigorated by the invention of Autotune and isn’t even that annoying. The Neptunes drop the interesting uptempo ragga-infused “Kill Dem” (with Busta’s patois deserving PROPS); Danja’s beat for “Shoot for the Moon” is almost other-worldly, yet familiar enough to be immediately identifiable; Focus provides the superbly sinister “Respect My Conglomerate” featuring solid guest verses from Jadakiss and Lil Wayne.
The heat continues with subtly impressive tracks from DJ Scratch, including the Slick Rick-sampling intro and the wicked “Imma Go & Get My…” – a bizarre number (number, geddit?). In fact, there are only two or three tracks that miss the mark, but even they can’t be called “wack,” per se, just not quite up to the rest of the standard. These include, rather predictably, the T-Pain track “Hustler’s Anthem ’09” but at least it isn’t horrible; “We Miss You” doesn’t quite work either, and “Sugar” isn’t the best track for the “ladeez” that Busta has ever crafted. Those minor jibes aside, BOMBS will have you reaching for the repeat button as soon as it has finished – it is the kind of LP that reveals interesting artifacts upon each listen, not to mention Busta putting some real effort into his Rhymes. It is normal, by now, for us to expect a myriad of flows but his lyrics manage to impress more often than not, especially after a somewhat lacklustre few years in the haze.
This is certainly the most listenable – from start to finish – album that Busta Rhymes has dropped in the last decade. It has wit, charm, interesting production and the right balance. The only real problem with it is a lack of those CLASSIC universal Bus’ singles. There is nothing on par with a “Put Your Hands…” or even “Touch It.” That level of hit would pull in the more casual punters, making them realise that they had bought into a truly wicked album that, in all honesty, shocked me with just how likeable it is. Although “The Big Bang” seems to have acquired cult status in some areas of the hip hop community, BOMBS, whilst not possessing the highs of the predecessor, is a much more consistently impressive album, even on the most basic “background listening” level. Busta Rhymes has finally made an album that works from beginning to end – it is just a shame that the lack of crossover hit singles will doubtless leave BOMBS a slightly unappreciated gem.