Busta Rhymes reaches critical mass with his latest album, Anarchy. The disc is the fourth in an epic series of albums that has enabled Busta to both hold down and elevate hip hop from the 'streets to the stadium.' But for an artist who is just as at home on Madison Avenue (Busta's 2 new spots for Pepsi's Mountain Dew blast off now) as he is repping Eastern Parkway (Anarchy's 'We Comin' Through' is a nod to his West Indian roots), controlling the chaos has always been part of the repertoire.
'We're beginning a new thousand years and I don't want anyone relying on the sporadic sh*t,' says Busta. 'Anarchy is the result of all the sh*t I've been saying. If you survived the sh*t, metaphorically speaking, then we got to do something about the system so there's a little more promise.'
Anarchy is indeed the manual for surviving the next thousand years, with Busta creating his most diverse work yet, ripping it and flipping it in the kinetic, frenetic, idiosyncratic style that has made him hip hop's most recognizable performer. The 22-track opus is the ultimate antidote to the restless, spiritually bankrupt age that - according to Busta - is now dawning. 'It's up to us to survive this sh*t,' he says. Whether it's sticking with your peeps on 'How Much We Grew,' keeping a vigilant eye on the fiery call to arms 'Ready For War' (featuring M.O.P.), wildin' out on 'Bladow!!' or coolin' out on 'Enjoy The Ride,' ('We all gon' sparkle now' spits Busta), Anarchy pulls no punches.
Joining hip hop's most phosphorescent frontman are none other than DMX and Jay Z on the explosive 'Why We Die,' as well as guitar great Lenny Kravitz on the amped-up shocker 'Make Noise.' Busta even grounds it back down to street corner level on the eerie underground tale 'The Heist,' featuring Wu-Tang's Raekwon and Ghost Face Killer, and Flipmode's Roc Marciano. 'This album is my latest greatest,' affirms Busta. 'Out the door - it's the best album I've ever made.' He's backed up the swagger by putting together a multi-faceted entertainment arsenal in 2000, with the Brooklyn/Long Island native emerging as a bona fide cultural icon. The aptly titled Anarchy is the crowning achievement in a year that has seen him debut his own clothing line (Bushi Designs), co-star in Shaft with Samuel L. Jackson, land a coveted role in Sean Connery's Finding Forrester - and launch a brand new hip hop superstar from his own Flipmode imprint, the celebrated Rah Digga.
For more than a decade he has overshadowed many of his peers by capitalizing on a mercurial charisma that has taken him from the nurturing roots of The Leaders Of The New School to center stage at last year's MTV awards, (he and Janet Jackson snagged a moon-man for Busta's 'What's It Gonna Be.') It's that same Busta rep that brought a host of superstar producers to Anarchy, including Swizz Beats, Rockwilder, DJ Shok, Jay Dee and longtime collaborator D.J. Scratch. Tracks like the aforementioned 'Make Noise' and the contagious call and response of 'Fire,' and the low riding 'Live It Up,' ('the kind of sh*t that makes you just go get the keys to your whip and just bounce' intones Busta)' reveal there is even more method to Busta's madness.
'It's definitely more intense. I see the sh*t more clearly now.
I've grown tremendously, even in the past two years. I want my people to look at the future now. If The Coming was the beginning, and When Disaster Strikes was the warning, and E.L.E. was when it all hit, well, Anarchy is the aftermath.'
Busta says he tried to manifest a healthy balance of preparation and improvisation in the studio to come up with the best songs for Anarchy. 'Every song is like a part of my world. So by the end of the album I'm bringing you the universal sh*t by unlocking each world. I'm a firm believer in thriving off the positive energy that's around you, and maintaining that level in order to get results.'
Busta could certainly stand on his resume in that department. He honed his outrageous style with the Leaders Of The New School, exploding on the scene with their 1990 masterpiece Future Without A Past. His breakthrough guest appearance on A Tribe Called Quest's classic 'Scenario' cemented his rep as a hip hop prodigy. His platinum-plus debut effort The Coming, confirmed that Busta was more than just a voice, with his monumental first single 'Whoo-Ha! Got You All In Check' providing a showcase for his acrobatic rhyming style that has stood with him through three albums (The Coming, When Disaster Strikes, and E.L.E.- The Final World Front) and myriad guest appearances. During his amazing career he's worked with superstars such as Mary J. Blige, Boyz II Men, Jermaine Dupri, Sean 'Puffy' Combs, Redman and others, as well as snagging acting roles in John Singleton's Higher Learning, and a guest starring spot on the Steve Harvey Show. His burgeoning Flipmode label added another tier to his entertainment empire with the gold-selling Flipmode Squad debut, The Imperial.
'I've been very blessed,' says Busta. 'I've been able to work with great people in and out of the recording industry, and each of them have taught me something I use in my music.' Anarchy also features an appearances by Busta's Flipmode cohorts.
When asked to pick a couple of his own favorites on Anarchy, he smiles. 'I got one that people will definitely reflect on, 'How We Grew.' I was just looking around at the studio one day being thankful for all that God gave me. I was in a good place and I wanted to write a song about it. There's another one, 'Get Out,' that is also gonna' get to motherf*ckers. If you are a wack motherf*cker, or a broad who don't got no money, or a dude who's a fake motherf*cker, or a police officer trying to close down our sh*t and not let us represent hip hop the way we want, listen up. You all need to 'Get Out.' I painted a whole universe for you all,' he says. 'There's no fast forwards on this motherf*cker.'