25 August, 2012@10:26 am
A recent promotional video for Busta Rhymes new album, Year Of The Dragon, touts him as having the longest run of relevancy in the game, pre-dating even Nas’ Illmatic, in his early years with Leaders Of The New School. This may be true – (Dr. Dre hasn’t dropped in how long now?) – as Busta has always found a way to craft some kind of time-stamped breakthrough single to the masses, adapting to whatever the current trends are. But if that is the case, then why isn’t Busta Rhymes usually mentioned the same breath as Jay, Dre, or Nas?
The answer is pretty simple – Busta has never dropped a classic album.
Busta knows when to bring the “dungeon dragon” out, and he usually does so when amongst competitors. Going back early as “Scenario” or even more recent as “Look At Me Know”, Busta has always performed show-stealing verses that put him in a class of his own. Even throughout his solo career, when it’s time to turn up the heat for that single, Busta always manages to carve out classic club-bangers.
The problem with Year Of The Dragon – like many of his previous albums – is that much of it seems to be phoned in. It’s unclear whether or not Busta really intended this free album – his first for YMCMB – to be treated as an actual “album”. Do free downloads from Google Play count as sales? Or does he view this as a mixtape, with the true, retail album to be released later?
It’s seemingly the latter, as Year Of The Dragon lacks a true single, other than the moderately catchy “King Tut”, which is shared with J-Doe and Reek Da Villian. The other clue is the borrowing of two classic beats, Hi-Tek’s “Round & Round” for “Doin It’ Again”, and B.I.G.’s “Dreams” for “Make It Look Easy”, both with a DJ in the background ad-libbing “You remember!”
Unfortuantely, much of the rest of the album sounds like outtakes for attempts to find that perfect single. “Grind Real Slow” almost sounds like a parody of the ass-shaking rap single, while the overly corny “Love-Hate” with Robin Thicke is a painful exercise of an R&B crossover track. Even the album’s poorly executed opening track “I’m Talking To You”, which samples Tears for Fears’ “Shout” is just plain embarrassing. And in a strange turn of events, Lil Wayne bests Busta on his own album with “Pressure”. And where is “Why Stop Now?”
It’s not to say that this album is complete garbage, but it’s definitely the most sub-par Busta album since 2002′s It Ain’t Safe No More. While Busta has seen a lot of ups-and-downs throughout his career – his last strong LP being 2006′s The Big Bang via Aftermath, his re-entry into the game via Young Money is off to a bit of a slow start. As longtime fans of the dungeon dragon, we hope that the previously announced E.L.E. 2 marks his true return to the game, as a fire-breathing beast of an LP.
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