The cover and title of Busta Rhymes‘ [click to read] latest full-length, Back On My B.S., suggest the Long Island (by way of Brooklyn) emcee is attempting to recapture the fun-loving energy and off-the-wall antics of his platinum-plus career prior to 2002’s disappointing It Ain’t Safe No More. With 2006’s much more polished, Dr. Dre overseen, The Big Bang [click to read], the former leader of the Leaders Of The New School dramatically toned down his wild woo-haness for less colorful club bangers and a newfound penchant for playing up his “hungry for street shit” BK badassness. But at least that gold-certified project was engaging, in both sound and speak. Unfortunately, its follow-up, Back On My B.S., is not. Continuing in the same dull direction as Busta‘s recent all-original material mixtape-before-the-album I Bullshit You Not [click to listen], B.S. is almost entirely comprised of uninspired soundscapes matched by Bus-A-Bus‘ uninspired rhymes.
After helming that underwhelming street release, more unexciting production courtesy of DJ Scratch surfaces on Busta‘s eighth studio album beginning with the what-the-hell-were-they-thinking intro, “Wheel Of Fortune.” The failed comedy of the track’s operatic opening set to “Beethoven’s 5th Symphony” gives way to disjointed drums, aimless sample stabs and equally directionless rhymes from Rhymes. EPMD‘s [click to read] former deejay continues his less than stellar boardwork with “Imma Go & Get My…” On the yawn-inducing selection, muddied synths serve as the foundation for Busta to pointlessly take ice-grillers to task and Mike Epps to reprise his lottery ticket scene from the long-forgotten Ice Cube flick All About The Benjamins.
But the sonic lowlight on B.S. is credited not to Scratch, but instead to The Neptunes [click to read] for “Kill Dem.” The disgraceful Dancehall attempt is so unbearable to listen to (both its horrid reggae-style rhymes and riddim) that one can’t begin to understand how the song ended up a part of the album’s final tracklist. Running a close second for the most shake-your-head-in-confusion-and-disgust moment on B.S. comes via the album closer, “World Go Round,” a disturbing dance number with an anemic Estelle chorus.
But at least Jelly Roll‘s work on that track is only mismatched with its receiving artist, and doesn’t sound like it was just thrown together in a matter of minutes. The same can’t be said for most of the high profile producers that helm the album and their inexplicably amateurish backdrops. Auto-Tune enthusiast Ron Browz gives Busta no return on the spitter’s surely expensive investment with the paltry clap-and-808 club confection “Give Em What They Askin For” (Bus-A-Bus‘ hyena-voiced squealing on the song’s chorus only serving to make matters worse). And surprisingly, Grammy-winning Timbaland protégé Danja too chips in a dud for B.S. with “Shoot For The Moon.” Laser-sounding synths salvage the song’s bridge, but the naked drum-track underlying each verse is almost as boring as Busta‘s whispered mumblings about being “one of the greatest” who’s “back with the crack.”
But rewind-worthy rhymes have never been Busta‘s calling card as much as his “roaw roaw like a dungeon dragon” fury on the mic has been. However on B.S. he doesn’t even seem to care to make the effort to utilize his once seemingly boundless energy to engage the listener. Sounding lethargic and unfocused throughout most of the album, his basic boasts of “layin’ the law like I’m the head of Congress” on “We Miss You” are almost as cheesy as the song’s synthetic string-laden track. And the man who once outshined legends the likes of Q-Tip [click to read] (on “Scenario”) and Biggie Smalls (on “Flava In Ya Ear Remix”) sounds unable to even compete with Lil Wayne [click to read] and Jadakiss [click to read] on the passable “Respect My Conglomerate.”
Thankfully, B.S. is saved from becoming a complete lost cause for the listener by a few worthwhile selections. “We Want In” sports an Auto-Tuned chorus courtesy of Ron Browz that surprisingly works (unlike his reckless use of Qu’ran passages on the tasteless “Arab Money”) with the track’s smooth groove to create an actual head-nodder (unimpressive guest spots from Spliff Star and Show Money notwithstanding). And while “Don’t Believe ‘Em” might be a cut-and-paste radio record (complete with Akon hook and verse from T.I.), it displays the type of high-octane energy that is sorely missing from the rest of B.S. Rounding out the trio of album standouts is the sole Dr. Dre-esque contribution to the onetime Aftermath artist’s new project, “Decision,” with Denaun Porter [click to read] emulating the good doctor’s heavy piano playing for a somber lament on friendship accentuated by Mary J. Blige, Jamie Foxx and John Legend‘s crooning, as well as Common‘s [click to read] sharp analysis of how friends can be lost to professional pursuits.
Maybe his former label, Interscope, wouldn’t let Bus release all of the tracks that were part of the original incarnation of this album when it was tentatively-titled Blessed (the Linkin Park aided Rap-Rock fusion “We Made It” appears as a bonus track on the iTunes version), but regardless of what led to the atrocious assemblage of tracks found on B.S., it is clear that Busta has succumbed to churning out the same brand of ho-hum Hip Hop that has come to define the genre in 2009. No further example of his pathetic pandering is needed beyond the saloon-style-piano driven “Hustler’s Anthem ’09.” From its generic production to its generic T-Pain-helmed chorus to its generic title to Busta‘s generic get money rhymes, it’s emblematic of the uninspired offerings that reign on Back On My B.S. Hopefully next time out Hip Hop’s clown prince can once again truly get back on his bullshit and find the fun and inspiration in making the merry music millions have come to love.