Busta Rhymes

From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

Busta Rhymes
Busta Rhymes performing in 2023
Born
Trevor George Smith Jr.

(1972-05-20) May 20, 1972 (age 52)[1]
Other namesTrevor Taheim Smith
EducationUniondale High School
Occupations
  • Rapper
  • singer
  • songwriter
  • record producer
  • actor
  • record executive
  • businessman
Years active1986–present[2]
Children6
RelativesRampage (cousin)
AwardsFull list
Musical career
Genres
Instruments
  • Vocals
  • samplers
  • drums
Discography
Labels
Member of
Formerly of
Websitebustarhymesuniverse.com

Trevor George Smith Jr. (born May 20, 1972), known professionally as Busta Rhymes, is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, and actor. Chuck D of Public Enemy gave him the moniker Busta Rhymes, after NFL and CFL wide receiver George "Buster" Rhymes. He has received 12 Grammy Award nominations for his work, making him one of the most-nominated artists without winning.

Busta Rhymes was an original member of Leaders of the New School, a group that attracted national attention when they opened on tour for Public Enemy.[5] He gained exposure for their guest appearance on A Tribe Called Quest's track "Scenario". Shortly thereafter, Leaders of the New School broke up, leading Rhymes to become a sought after solo artist, appearing on numerous tracks for other artists before his solo debut album, The Coming (1996). The album reached the top ten on the Billboard 200 album chart, was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and earned him a Grammy nomination.

He has released eleven total solo albums, with the most recent being 2023's Blockbusta. Rhymes' list of hit singles include "Woo-Hah!! Got You All in Check", "It's a Party", "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See", "Dangerous", "Turn It Up" (Remix)/"Fire It Up", "Gimme Some More", "What's It Gonna Be?", "Pass the Courvoisier, Part II", "I Know What You Want" and "Touch It".

Among his other ventures, he founded the record label Conglomerate (initially Flipmode Entertainment) and the production crew The Conglomerate (formerly Flipmode Squad). About.com included him on its list of the 50 Greatest MCs of Our Time (1987–2007),[6] and Steve Huey of AllMusic called him one of the best and most prolific rappers of the 1990s.[7] In 2012, The Source placed him on its list of the Top 50 Lyricists of All Time.[8] MTV has called him "one of hip-hop's greatest visual artists".[9]

Early life[edit]

Trevor George Smith Jr.[10][11][12] was born in the East Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York City, on May 20, 1972, to Geraldine Green and Trevor Smith Sr., both from Jamaica.[13][14][15] At age 12, Smith's family moved to Uniondale, New York.[16] For a short while, Smith attended George Westinghouse Career and Technical Education High School in Brooklyn with future rappers Christopher "The Notorious B.I.G." Wallace and Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter,[17] and attended Samuel J. Tilden High School with Edward "Special Ed" Archer and Roderick "Chip Fu" Roachford of Fu-Schnickens.[18] Smith eventually graduated from Long Island's Uniondale High School in 1991.[19]

Busta also spent time in Britain during the early 1980s where he resided with his maternal aunt. She lived in Morecambe, and he spent two summers there with his mother and younger brother.[20] He went to Skerton Community High School while he was staying in the area.[21] He told GQ in a 2020 interview, "One summer when we went down there I was 12, my brother was eight, so my aunt made sure that we actually went to school in England. Regular school and then we went to karate school too. We also were on some breakdancing that was so crazy, we ended up actually getting work to breakdance in clubs as minors. And our cousins used to run us around and they used to advertise us as TJ and Paul."[20]

Career[edit]

1986–1995: Leaders of the New School and rising popularity[edit]

"They were performing with one mic, and it was three MCs, not four. Busta also did the beatbox. It was just ill. He was controlling the mic and certainly the star of the show. He was completely amazing."

– A&R Dante Ross, on the group's performance at Payday[22]

In 1986, Smith, alongside fellow Long Island natives Charlie Brown, Cut Monitor Milo, and Dinco D, formed the East Coast hip hop group Leaders of the New School.[23]

Leaders of the New School released their debut album A Future Without a Past... in June 1991 on Elektra Records.[24] Later that year, the group appeared on A Tribe Called Quest's critically acclaimed posse cut "Scenario".[25] In 1993, they released T.I.M.E. (The Inner Mind's Eye). Smith gained popularity from his advanced rhymes as well as his unique style that was not common of many New York rap artists at the time. Soon after, however, internal problems arose because of his increasing popularity, and the group broke up on the set of Yo! MTV Raps.[26][27]

"I was like the first artist to really start rhyming on everyone else's record. And I was doing that because it was a quick way to feed my kid. That's what was going on until, you know, I got to a place where I felt comfortable enough with doing a solo album."

– Busta Rhymes[22]

1996–1999: The Coming, When Disaster Strikes, and Extinction Level Event: The Final World Front[edit]

In 1996, Busta Rhymes release on his solo debut album The Coming.[28] His single "Woo Hah!! Got You All in Check" was a success, pushing the album into gold record status.[23] Later, he started work on his second album, When Disaster Strikes, which would not be released until September 1997.[23]

In 1998, Busta Rhymes recorded Extinction Level Event: The Final World Front.[23]

2000–2004: Anarchy, Genesis, and It Ain't Safe No More[edit]

Busta Rhymes in 2002

In 2000, Busta Rhymes released his final album for Elektra, titled Anarchy.[23][29] He released Genesis in 2001.[23] The album featured collaborations with Mary J. Blige, P. Diddy, Kelis, and others.[30]

In 2002, Busta Rhymes released his sixth studio album It Ain't Safe No More.[29][23]

2005–2009: The Big Bang and Back on My B.S.[edit]

Busta Rhymes performing in 2006

His seventh studio album, titled The Big Bang, became the first No. 1 album of his career. The album sold over 209,000 copies in its first week to earn the top spot on the US Billboard 200.[31]

It was later revealed that Busta signed a deal with Universal Motown, through which he released his eighth studio album Back on My B.S., on May 19, 2009.[32] Due to controversial content, the United Arab Emirates has banned the album.[33] Back on My B.S. was released internationally, but because of one song, "Arab Money", it cannot be purchased as a CD there, although the album can still be purchased via iTunes.[33] According to the National Media Council, the lyrics were considered to be offensive to Arabs and to Islam because it quoted the Quran.[33]

In November 2008, when "Arab Money" was released as a single, DJ Dany Neville and the Iraqi rapper The Narcicyst responded by recording a reply. Rhymes later apologized.[33] DJs in the country said they had not received an order banning the record from being spun in nightclubs, and they had mixed feelings on whether the record was offensive or not.[33] DJ Saif of Dubai said "I don't play 'Arab Money' because it's disrespectful [to] Arabs. I don't think there is a ban on playing it in clubs, but many here don't play it anyway."[33]

Busta Rhymes in 2005

DJ Bliss, along with many other DJs in the UAE, refused to play "Arab Money" on Radio 1 in Dubai after it was banned in the UAE for offense to Arabs. He added, "I used to play the original version in the club, but out of respect for the laws here in my country, I haven't played it since."[33] In 2010 the track's producer Ron Browz defended Busta Rhymes in a Dubai interview with journalist Awad Mustafa stating that the track was misunderstood.[34] "For us, having 'Arab money' is a compliment understood like having 'Oprah money' or 'Tiger Woods money' – it's just street slang, and we were appreciating the amazing wonders that have been created here," Browz said.[35] Browz added that he had produced the track in a moment of inspiration while experimenting in his studio. "Growing up in Harlem I was always surrounded by Arabs and Muslims, we embraced their culture and they embraced ours and we always joked with each other," he said.[36]

2010–2020: Collaborations and Extinction Level Event 2[edit]

In September 2009, Busta Rhymes had announced that he was working on his ninth studio album, alongside Canadian producer Boi-1da, titled The Chemo. At the time, he stated that the project was 80% finished.[37] In May 2010, Busta Rhymes had reportedly changed the title of his ninth album from The Chemo to Extinction Level Event 2, making his ninth effort a sequel to his 1998 album Extinction Level Event (Final World Front).[38]

Busta Rhymes contributed to the 2011 Tech N9ne album All 6's and 7's, performing vocals on the single, "Worldwide Choppers", released on May 31.[39] Canadian recording artist Justin Bieber featured Busta Rhymes on a song called "Drummer Boy" off Bieber's sophomore studio album Under the Mistletoe, released on November 1, 2011.[40] On November 11, 2011, a Heavy D tribute song titled "You Ain't Gotta Wait Till I'm Gone" was leaked.[41]

On November 16, 2011, it was announced that Busta Rhymes signed to Cash Money Records.[42]

A song with Twista, titled "Can You Keep Up", was leaked. Busta Rhymes was featured on Fat Joe's single "Pride & Joy" alongside Kanye West and Jadakiss.[43] His ninth studio album, Year of the Dragon, was released for free on Google Play on August 21, 2012. The album features guest appearances from Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Trey Songz, Robin Thicke, Maino, Gucci Mane and more. He also released a music video for the track "Doin' It Again" which features Reek da Villian and includes a tribute to his manager Chris Lighty, who committed suicide in 2012.[44]

He was later featured on YMCMB label mate Shannel's single "Last Time".[45] In 2011, it was announced that Universal Motown was going defunct, forcing Rhymes and other artists to move to Universal Republic Records. In mid-2012, it was announced that Universal Republic Records was also going defunct, forcing artists on the roster to move to Republic Records, reviving the label.[46]

On December 21, 2012, members of The Conglomerate Ent., Busta along with J. Doe and Reek da Villan released a mixtape titled Catastrophic, their first collective effort.[47] Busta Rhymes collaborated with Pharrell Williams, who produced the first single off his Cash Money Records debut, "Twerk It", which was released on June 6, 2013. A video was shot in Flatbush on June 3, 2013. The official remix was released featuring Nicki Minaj. On July 23, 2014, Busta Rhymes announced that he left Cash Money Records due to creative differences and he is no longer on Republic.[48]

He was featured on "Devil", featuring Neon Hitch and B.o.B, a song by Cash Cash. It was released in August 2015.[49] In July 2014, it was announced that Rhymes had amicably departed Cash Records due to creative differences.[50]

Busta Rhymes at Out4Fame Festival 2015 in Germany

In 2016, a movement to name a small, uninhabited lake island in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts after Busta Rhymes received viral publicity. The unofficial name of Busta Rhymes Island was chosen by a town resident because the island has "rope-swinging, blueberries, and ... stuff Busta would enjoy".[51] A formal proposal was made to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names to officially change the island's name, but it was not accepted due to regulations regarding the naming of geographic places after living people.[52]

Busta Rhymes was also a featured artist on The Hamilton Mixtape, singing a remix of "My Shot", along with Black Thought of The Roots and Joell Ortiz.[53] The trio performed the song on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.[54] On February 2, 2018, Rhymes released a new single "Get It", featuring Missy Elliott and Kelly Rowland, through Epic Records.[55]

In February 2019, Busta Rhymes confirmed he's "finishing touches" of his new album with longtime collaborator, Dr. Dre.[56]

In 2020, Busta Rhymes competed in season 4 of The Masked Singer as "Dragon". He was eliminated in the first episode.[57]

On October 30, 2020, Busta released his album Extinction Level Event 2: The Wrath of God.[29]

2021–present: Blockbusta[edit]

In 2021, Busta Rhymes released the 25th Anniversary Edition of his debut studio album, The Coming.[58]

In late 2023, his eleventh studio album Blockbusta was released; with a long list of features.[59]

Personal life[edit]

Busta Rhymes identifies as a member of the Five-Percent Nation.[60][61] He has six children: three sons (born in 1993, 1999, and 2001) and three daughters (born 1998, 1999, and 2006).[62][63][64]

During an interview for Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, the rapper walked out when confronted with a question about homophobia in the rap community. Rhymes is quoted as saying: "I can't partake in that conversation," followed by, "With all due respect, I ain't trying to offend nobody. . . What I represent culturally doesn't condone [homosexuality] whatsoever." When asked if the hip hop culture would ever accept a homosexual rapper, Busta Rhymes then exited the interview.[65]

In a later interview with MTV News, Rhymes expressed his support for Frank Ocean upon his coming out, as well as general cultural acceptance of homosexuality.[66]

Legal issues[edit]

In December 1998, Rhymes was arrested and charged with possession of an unregistered gun after being pulled over during a routine traffic stop in New York City. On October 6, 2000, he received five years probation after pleading guilty earlier in the year.

On August 20, 2006, Rhymes was arrested and arraigned for charges of third-degree assault after attacking a man who reportedly spat on his car in New York City on August 12 after the AmsterJam Music Festival on Randall's Island.[67]

On October 24, 2006, Rhymes appeared at Manhattan Criminal Court as the district attorney's office attempted to amend previous charges against him to include weapons possession for a machete found in his car. The judge refused to add the charge and adjourned the case.[68][69]

On February 20, 2007, Rhymes refused a plea deal offered by the prosecutor's office for the assault of his former driver, Edward Hatchett. The deal would have entailed his being in jail for six months and pleading guilty to two assaults, the attack on Hatchett, and the attack on the former fan. The dispute with Hatchett is believed to have originated over back pay Hatchett felt he was owed. Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Becki Rowe offered Busta another option, pleading guilty to third-degree assault. The conditions of the proposed sentence would include five days of community service, two weeks of youth lectures and six months of anger management classes, as well as three years of probation.[69][70]

On May 3, 2007, Rhymes was arrested in Manhattan for driving without a license and for driving while impaired. On March 18, 2008, a judge in New York City sentenced Rhymes to three years of probation, 10 days community service, $1250 in fines (plus court costs), and to enroll in a drunken driving program.[71]

On September 25, 2008, Rhymes was temporarily refused entry to the UK due to "unresolved convictions".[72]

In 2018, Busta Rhymes was accused of plagiarism by Bernardo Lanzetti and his group Acqua Fragile, who alleged that Rhymes' 2001 song "Genesis" used an uncredited sample of the group's "Cosmic Mind Affair".[73] After negotiations with Rhymes' publishers broke down, Lanzetti and Acqua Fragile opted to move forward with a lawsuit.[74]

Influences[edit]

Busta Rhymes' favorite rapper as a teenager was LL Cool J, who was the inspiration and reason for Busta Rhymes writing his first raps.[75]

He was creatively inspired by American singer and record producer George Clinton for "being over the top and outlandish and brave as far as his showmanship." Rhymes has also stated that he was taught by Clinton about the music industry and numerous challenges people in it have to face.[22]

Legacy[edit]

Rhymes' work has influenced artists such as Eminem, Talib Kweli,[76] Ski Mask the Slump God,[77][78] Kendrick Lamar,[79] Tyler, the Creator,[80] and Doja Cat.[81][82][83][84] Fellow American rapper Big Daddy Kane has stated that Rhymes has the best flow in hip hop, alluding to the original version of "Turn It Up".[85]

Discography[edit]

Studio albums
Collaborative albums

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1993 Who's the Man? Jawaan
Strapped Buster TV movie
1995 Higher Learning "Dreads"
1998 The Rugrats Movie Reptar Wagon (voice)
2000 Shaft Rasaan
Finding Forrester Terrell Wallace
2002 Narc Darnell "Big D Love" Beery
Halloween: Resurrection Freddie Harris
2004 Full Clip Joshua Pope
2009 Breaking Point Al Bowen
2011 The Unforgiven "Lick" Wilson
2015 Club Life Himself
2016 King of the Dancehall Allestar "All Star Toasta"
2025 The Naked Gun Filming

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1991 In Living Color Himself/Musical Guest Episode: "Green Eggs and the Guvment Cheese"
1996 New York Undercover Himself Episode: "Kill the Noise"
1996–97 Soul Train Himself Episode: "Episode #25.26" & "#27.9"
1997 Cosby Phillip Episode: "Dating Games"
1998 The Wayans Bros. Himself Episode: "Busta Saves the Day"
The Steve Harvey Show Zack Episode: "Everybody Loves Regina"
1998–02 Top of the Pops Himself Episode: "Episode #35.16" & "#39.22"
1999 All That Himself Episode: "All That Live! (100th Episode)"
Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards Himself/Co-Host Main Co-Host
Mad TV Himself Episode: "Episode #5.2"
Rugrats Reptar Wagon (voice) Episode: "Wrestling Grandpa/Chuckie Collects"
2000 Making the Video Himself Episode: "Busta Rhymes: Fire"
2000–01 Source Hip-Hop Music Awards Himself/Co-Host Main Co-Host
2000–02 Showtime at the Apollo Himself Episode: "Episode #13.20" & "#15.14"
2001 Space Ghost Coast to Coast Himself Episode: "Flipmode"
2002 WWE SmackDown Himself Episode: "The Undertake & John Cena vs. Kurt Angle & Chris Jericho"
2003 Players Himself Episode: "Daredevilin'"
Chappelle's Show Himself/Musical Guest Episode: "Reparations & NY Boobs"
Punk'd Himself Episode: "Episode #1.8"
Interscope Presents 'The Next Episode' Himself Episode: "Detroit"
2004 And You Don't Stop: 30 Years of Hip-Hop Himself Episode: "Back in the Day"
2005 Unique Whips Himself Episode: "Lincolns, Strippers and Bentleys, Oh My"
Access Granted Himself Episode: "Busta Rhymes: Touch It"
2007–08 The Boondocks Flonominal (voice) Recurring Cast: Season 2
2015 Master of None Himself Episode: "Indians on TV"
2016 Fresh Off the Boat Himself Episode: "Hi, My Name Is ..."
2018 Big City Greens Fish (voice) Episode: "Fill Bill"
2020 The Masked Singer Dragon Eliminated in first episode
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon Himself Season 8, episode 1339

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2004 Def Jam Fight For NY Magic [86]
2006 Def Jam Fight for NY: The Takeover Magic [87]
2009 Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad Of Gay Tony Himself

Documentary[edit]

Year Title
1997 Rhyme & Reason
2000 Backstage
2001 Xzibit: Restless Xposed
2002 Slip N'Slide: All Star Weekend
2003 Hip Hop Uncensored Vol. 1: Network Stars
Superhuman
Fromage 2003
2004 Strong Arm Steady
DJ Domination: World Domination
2005 The Game: Documentary
2006 Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats & Rhymes
Pimpalation: Return of the Trill
Lockdown, USA
Jim Jones: A Day in the Fast Life
Rap Sheet: Hip-Hop and the Cops [88]
2007 Public Enemy: Where There's Smoke
2008 Orange Rockcorps at the Royal Albert Hall
2010 SOS Saving OurSelves: Help for Haiti
2011 Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest
2013 Generation Iron
2014 Nas: Time Is Illmatic
2015 Stretch and Bobbito: Radio that changed Lives
2017 Can't Stop, Won't Stop: A Bad Boy Story
2018 Survivors Guide To Prison
2023 Another West Side Story

Awards and nominations[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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