"And even up to this point, you ain't seen SHIT yet!"
With this introduction from Rudy Ray Moore, Busta Rhymes takes us into the new century with a new album on a brand new label. Last time around on "Anarchy," Busta delivered an album that was long on promise but short on quality content. Perhaps that was why he left long-time partner Elektra Records - more creative control over his product. Or perhaps they abandoned HIM - not realizing a star of his stature could slip and still bounce back stronger than ever.
Either way, Busta Rhymes definitely seems more focused and serious this year. Starting with "Everybody Rise Again" Busta shows us exactly where he's at by reprising a song from 1998's "Extinction Level Event" yet giving it a funked out Just Blaze beat. At the end of the song he proclaims Genesis to be "a whole new foundation.. a whole new idea.. a whole new experience.. a whole, entire, new movement" and the picture crystalizes - Busta wants to be reborn into hip-hop.
There's a little bit of something for everybody here. For people who like the tweaked out electronic sound of The Neptunes, the heavy bass of "As I Come Back" and clicky percussion of "What it Is" will be straight up your alley. For the hardcore funk, Dr. Dre steps up with the first single "Break Ya Neck" as well as the Eminem-like synth whine of "Holla" and pounding attack of "Truck Volume." Dilla laces the ethereal title track as well as appropriately brutal and uptempo "Make it Hurt" - my sleeper choice for a hit single.
The most surprising collaboration on the album though is an instant Kool-Aid grin for any rap fan from the early 90's - the resurrection of Pete Rock's famous Public Enemy remix on "Shut 'Em Down 2002" by the original beat maestro himself. Over a decade later, the fading and returning horns of the mix still sound brilliant, and Busta's rap is a worthy tribute on a song which ends far too soon at just 2:37. Long lost Diggin' in the Crates member Diamond D also links up with Busta and guest Jaheim for the smoothed out but far too sexually explicit for radio "Wife in Law." In fact, with this many references to bitch pussy and dick, you'll probably mistake it for a Too $hort song.
With only one skit and 19 songs on the album, the amount of filler is surprisingly minimal; especially with the expectations the last album may have given people. "Match the Name With the Voice" only serves to point out how unrecognizable most of the Flipmode Squad is next to Busta-Bust, and "Ass On Your Shoulders" has too much of Kokane doing his best/worst P-Funk impression. Newcomer Michaelangelo funks it up for Mary J. Blige and Busta on "There's Only One" but drops the ball on the immediately following "You Ain't Fuckin' Wit Me" in an ironic attempt to make the title literally true. The one song that will leave you stuck on the fence is "Betta Stay Up In Your House" - the duet with Rah Digga was good on it's own, but by starting it with an elongated snippet of the Curtis Mayfield sample it uses one may want to actually listen to "Eddie You Should Know Better" instead.
The obvious is still obvious - Busta Rhymes is a kinetic rapper who best emulates the law of inertia that objects in motion tend to stay in motion; and he has an uncanny ability to make crossover rap hits. By coming with an album longer on content, shorter on filler, and and overall much improved selection of beats he does in fact achieve a rebirth that will be the "Genesis" of his career for years to come - a rapper equally at home on TV, in your headphones, or straight up on the dancefloor in the clubs. It's all brand new but it's eeriely reminiscent of 1996, when a fresh faced Busta left behind Leaders of the New School to break out solo; and the lesson learned is well deserved - NEVER count out Busta Rhymes.
Music Vibes: 8 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 7.5 of 10
Originally posted: November 29, 2001