I was too young and too busy tinkering with my bicycle to notice when Leaders of the New School practically broke up on camera during an episode of "Yo! MTV Raps" in 1993. But I wasn't too young to be completely spellbound and ignited with primal exuberance when I first heard "Woo Hah! Got You All in Check" on the radio in 1996. Everyone I knew was going out of their minds over this track! I don't think hip hoppers had shouted and jumped around that much since 3rd Base dropped "The Gas Face". It wasn't long after that when Busta Rhymes solidified his place in my top 10 favorite emcees.
Busta is one of the most unapologetic, relentless, aggressive, amplified, and explosive voices in hip hop. His characteristic vocal abrasion matched with his ability to rattle off lines like a roofer with a nail gun allows him to rhyme with a cannonball-like impact. He purposely throws the listener of balance; it's not supposed to be comfortable listening to him rap. It's supposed to incite a riot.
Over the years, Busta Rhymes has found more range and variety in his performance. He discovered a sense of delicacy and sophistication with his collaboration with Janet Jackson on "What's It Gonna Be?!" in 1998. On the 1997 single "Dangerous" he explored some of his more playful impulses. But throughout all of his work his edge has remains, which will always be the most enduring and dynamic element of his music.
Here's a clip of Busta's recent collaboration with Kanye West and Jay-Z called "H.A.M."