Busta Rhymes – BLOCKBUSTA

A glittering guest cast, with mixed results...

Famously exploding to prominence on A Tribe Called Quest’s immortal ‘Scenario’, Busta Rhymes is one of hip-hop’s most imposing figures. The physicality of his tone recalls dancehall and ragga greats, but he remains East Coast – its swagger, its concrete brutality, and its surging ambition. Often imitated, but in truth never bettered, ‘BLOCKBUSTA’ lives up to its billing, aligning Busta Rhymes against a host of modern icons, to mixed but often explosive effect.

The highs underpin Busta’s continued vitality. ‘REMIND ‘EM’ finds the rapper working alongside Quavo, their hugely different approaches to the mic making for an intriguing sense of tension. Cool, Dre, and Young Thug line-up on ‘OK’, a heavyweight burner that lives up to the reputation of the core cast. ‘BIG EVERYTHING’ is ridiculously entertaining in a cartoonish way, while Giggs chalks up another life goal on ‘THE HIVE’ – the Peckham don and the East Coast legend on one track.

With a 19-track span and a colossal guest cast, not everything on ‘BLOCKBUSTA’ lands. There’s a feeling sometimes that these collaborations were done separately and then spliced together, with some moments lacking cohesion, or a sense of chemistry. ‘HOMAGE’ with Kodak Black feels flat, for example, while the record’s eclecticism prevents ‘BLOCKBUSTA’ from truly coalescing.

That said, there are moments of real bravery. Stepping outside his comfort zone, the afrobeats aspects – ‘THE RETURN OF MANSA MUSA’ or the Burna Boy enhanced ‘ROBOSHOTTA’ – illustrate an artist willing to challenge himself, willing to push the envelope.

A mixed affair, there’s still a huge amount to recommend here – feel free to pull it apart, and add it to your own Busta playlists. Part tribute, part celebration, and part challenge, ‘BLOCKBUSTA’ underpins Busta Rhymes’ legend status, while daring to add something new to the story.


Words: Robin Murray

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