Busta Rhymes – Overall 80.5

(Flow 8.5, Lyrics 7, Distinctiveness 9, Charisma 8.5, Consistency 7.5, Longevity 8.5, Punchlines 7.5, Subject Matter 7.5, Quality 7.5, Influence 8.5)

There comes a certain point where you realize that certain things have been around so much that you probably don’t even appreciate or recognize them anymore. Busta is that guy, he’s basically like the “Simpsons” of hip-hop. When you start to realize how many hot tracks Busta has dropped over how many years, you start wondering why he isn’t mentioned in the greatest rapper conversations. (For the record, he notices that too) I don’t take much stock in Grammy Awards, but Busta has gotten 11 Grammy nominations so far.

You may not have listened to Leaders of the New School, which is sort of shame, but back than we relied on the radio a great deal more, and if you didn’t get radio play, it was a lot harder to get noticed. So when Busta Rhymes showed up on Tribe Called Quest’s “Scenario,” for a lot of people that was their introduction to the man.

That was 21 years ago.

Busta had gotten his first studio deal at 17. He should be a footnote by now, or perhaps a relic with a reality show. We should have a column wondering whatever happened to Busta Rhymes, and he would be somewhere in Atlanta, co-owning a neighborhood rib joint.

But that’s not how it worked out. What actually happened is that he took a unique blend of energy, his raspy, subtly discipline delivery, and slightly off-kilter lyricism and stayed at the top of the game ever since. It didn’t hurt that he’d spent years getting mentored by Chuck D (who gave him his nickname).


Mixtapes, guest spots, albums, it doesn’t matter, Busta has been consistently good on all of them. Busta is also a master of making sure his verse contrasts from everyone else’s that he’s on the track with, making sure he stands out.

Because of his versatility, there aren’t many limits on him either. Let’s be honest, if he did a love song, a gangster song, a funny song, or a song with the Chipmunks, he wouldn’t lose credibility, because he’s already established that he can do anything.