There comes a point in everyone’s life where you can’t do right for doing wrong. That has never been more apparent when it comes to the unique and deftly crafted persona of Trevor Smith. Having firmly established himself on the Hip-Hop timeline back in 1989 as a Leader of the New School; Busta Rhymes still plays that role as a solo artist seventeen years on.
Defamation: An abusive attack on a person’s character or good name
Aligning with Aftermath and working meticulously on his seventh solo album with the undisputed champion of the boards, Dr. Dre, Busta has had enough press over the last quarter to personalize a copy of the Sunday NY Times. Having lost his close friend and bodyguard in an irrational and incomprehensible shooting which still at this point remains unsolved, Busta’s character was on the chopping board and the masses were hacking away without any reluctance.
But as HipHopDX.com found out in an exclusive interview Busta isn’t the callous entity media outlets were trying to portray. Busta is a person, a living breathing walking human being who feels emotions just like the next man. He is a Father, a son, a brother, a friend, a leader and having his character abused like he did only encouraged him to make his presence known. “There is always going to be difficult shit to deal with even if you are not successful as it is part of life, as life has its good and its bad, I don’t ever like to deal with the difficult and negative shit but it is all necessary because that contributes to you becoming the individual you are and it strengthens your weaknesses when you have to deal with shit you don’t like dealing with.” And deal with it he has.
Busta Rhymes was raised within the confinements of strong family walls. His parents, Jamaican immigrants encouraged their son to discover his strong points and his weak. They allowed him to define himself for himself and Busta has the utmost respect for them, “They are very very adamant about who they are. They know their strengths, they know their values, not just as parents but as individuals and my Mother and Father have always been an influence.” And now as a parent himself and watching the example his parents set forth to him, he understands how certain issues have to be tackled when it comes to his own offspring. As he stated to HipHopDX.com “I conceal nothing from my kids as I don’t want them to know a fairy tale side of life,” as of course his blood line are exposed to everything their Father stands accused of. “They can see how I am handling it and its like when they are grown up and they have shit to handle on a negative level, there is a certain blueprint on how they have to handle things and you know be instinctive and be able to trust their judgment.”
Home and the role he plays within his family are where Busta would once let down his hair. Shedding the often over exaggerated cloak of Busta Rhymes, he explained how he would spend his days away from the studio and the exertion of being a Superstar, “I watch TV�and listen to music, just do normal shit. You know and if I don’t feel like being in the crib I just go and drive one of the many cars that I have, I love to wash my own car, love to detail my own car, wax and buff my own car,” but you can never escape his showmanship when he playfully concludes “then once I have got it cleaned up and looking real nice I like to drive real slow and cause a load of traffic.” And when you have put in the hours that he has and been constantly a standard setter throughout, if he wants to ‘front’ and make heads turn when he rolls down Atlantic Avenue in one of his custom automobiles why the hell shouldn’t he? “Janet Jackson, Rick James and Stevie wonder had never appeared on any rappers albums until mine. Janet may have done things with rappers after me but I was the first. Stevie Wonder was the same thing, Rick James the same thing. I feel honored in a big way,” and it is a reputation like this that allows him to be a credible force when co-signing the future, namely fellow New Yorker Papoose.
“Papoose is incredible; he is someone that is going to be around for a long time as he has a promised future. He has secured his way by working hard and he is a very creative individual and it is so good to see another dude from New York come up,” and when you hear the man who laced close friend and producer DJ Scratch with lyrics for his “New York Shit” you can appreciate just how important the New York Shit really is to him. Busta knows what it takes to be a hot commodity as he is one himself and it was a no brainer for him to endorse the most talked about thing to come out of The Big Apple in a New York minute. “You have to have the right resources to dedicate your work, you have to be able to work overtime, articulate so people believe you when you have your opportunity to tell your story and you have to have the association with the right team and that plays an intricate part with the way shit happens nowadays, you know who you are affiliate with and who is endorsing your product.”
Being one of the permanent fixtures who emerged in the golden era when artists were in the game for their love and appreciation of lyrics as much as the financial gain, he has seen the world absorb the music we all recognize as a way of life now and not just something to move and shake too. “I just want to see it do that [continue to grow] because the more that the game evolves on a growth level the more it becomes a bigger and more powerful thing, giving us more opportunity to stick around that much longer and be able to contribute to the music and that is really what it is about for me. I just want to have this as a vehicle to do what I want as I love this rap shit so much.” Busta isn’t one for dwelling on the past however; he embraces the future and the changes that have evolved since he came into the game. He acknowledges the ingenuity that the mixtape phenomenon has brought about and the competitiveness it has embellished. Back in the day he was featured on the Doo Wop 95 Live mixtape which featured many of the artists who are still prevalent in the industry today. But back then “mixtapes were just a means for the DJ to make a little money on the side of just DJing at the club,” now “you know dudes take more time to invest in doing real serious mixtapes and the mixtapes are really important as it presents a platform for mofos to get record deals, you know back in the days mixtapes weren’t getting nobody a record deal.”
It is his domination on whatever projects he throws himself into that allows him excessive budgets for videos, that has him collaborating with nothing but A listers and enables him to pull artists like Slick Rick, Rakim and Q-Tip on stage to perform with him at Summer Jam. “No” is not a word he hears as after all it is his ” passion and conviction,” and that fact that he is overtly “determined” that make him stand over everyone else. But the main ingredient when it comes down to the seasoning of Busta Rhymes has to be confidence. A trait which Busta oozed from playing soccer on the streets of Brooklyn to performing in sold out auditoriums throughout the world. “It is very difficult to deter me from the way I am thinking and the way I am feeling and the way I am seeing shit and in my mind I am the best mofo then that is what I am going to portray” he explained to me in depth when I questioned his tenure in the game. He prides himself on his creativity and encourages his counterparts and comrades to do just the same in ensuring the extended lifetime guarantee of Hip-Hop. “My main concern is as long as mofos play their part creatively none of that other shit matters as it is all trivial. The music has to be close to seamless to prove you are putting your best foot forward and doing your job and bringing something original to the game and adding some flavor.”
This is going to be an incredible year for Busta. His union with Aftermath may have taken three years to come to fruition but most certainly has fans patiently waiting for the entr�e after the first single from the album, “Touch It” was a welcomed appetizer. So with the presence of Stevie Wonder, Dr. Dre, Kelis and Rick James to name just a few, on the project, the followers that go out and buy The Big Bang next week, will I am certain, not be disappointed. “The anticipation from the people and the hype on the streets” is obviously encouraging to Busta as he talked about the feelings he has with this project after being in the lab so long working on it. When asked if he had number in his mind for first week sales he subtly explained “I like to let destiny pretty much manifest itself and play things out for me and when it happens I will adjust. I can definitely feel a difference this time around.” But one thing is very different this time around, one of the main contributors to Busta Rhymes discography is no longer present to see how critical he is, not just to Busta’s Big Bang but to Hip-Hop.�
Loss is something Busta has had to deal with publicly this year. Israel Ramirez was a great friend to Busta as well as a protector. J Dilla, the super producer was also a companion and had supplied beats to each of Busta’s solo projects. Both men were eradicated from the earth within a month of each other “Life is something that isn’t always going to be about good things and we have to accept the more fucked up parts of life. At the time when all this was happening it was really fucked up,” and yet as Busta was being condemned for his vow of silence in the shooting of Ramirez, he was enabling the future of his long time friend and business associate J Dilla. Working closely with Ms. Yancey, J Dilla’s Mother fondly known within the Hip-Hop circle as Ma Dukes to ensure “that Dilla’s music is still around and it is accessible to us as artists to represent his music the right way�.. He had so much music that he left behind that we are going to be celebrating and honoring his legacy and continuing the tradition of the real Hip-Hop.”
There is no-one like Busta Rhymes, he is what many artists wish they were. “Nobody can say I am copying their shit but you will hear about people that are trying to do shit that looks similar to Busta Rhymes. So with that being said I juts continue to stand my ground and I think what has encouraged the longevity and the creative approach is just me being me man.”
So with all news stories aside, all rumors and negativity out of mind he is just a man with a talent that has been blessed to be allowed to do what he lives and loves to do. Trevor Smith, is the epitome of the old saying ‘what doesn’t kill you just makes you stronger,’ he may have been frowned on for certain choices he made in his personal affairs, but when it comes down to his music, he has never been more anticipated and has never been more composed in making that Big Bang.