A Quick Catch-Up With: Busta Rhymes
Busta Rhymes has been in this business an awfully long time – over 20 years to be precise – not that you’d necessarily get that impression from talking to him! Speaking with the enthusiasm and passion of a rookie, the hip-hop veteran explained to The Wrap Up’s resident hip-hop head, Hannah O’Connor, how he keeps his creative embers burning, the importance of the genre’s competitive nature and what makes headlining the One Love Peace Festival so special to him…
The Wrap Up: Some people who aren’t aware of your personal background may be surprised to see you performing at a reggae festival. Why is this event so important to you?
Busta Rhymes: Performing for people in general is important to me – number one! Number two, it always feels good to headline an event. Number three, I haven't been to the UK for a long time, so it's great not just to be in the One Love Peace Festival and perform for the people, but it's also great to just reconnect with all of my family. I have a lot of family in the UK; I used to live out there. I haven't had the opportunity to link up with family for a long time. Even in my past trips, I've come with so many work obligations that I don't really get time to chill with the family. This event is not just an event like a concert; it's a big moment for music in the UK overall and just being able to perform for these people that I haven't seen in such a long time, it's the perfect way to reconnect. I've got a lot of new music that I haven't had the opportunity to perform that I'm going to be performing for the first time at this concert. It just feels good. I'm going to have a lot of my family there: my aunts, uncles and cousins, so it'll be a special moment for me from a personal place. So, I'm going to have a good time and I’m going to love making it special for the people.
TWU: This year's festival will be particularly special for those inspired by the late great, Bob Marley. How has his legacy influenced or inspired you as an artist?
Busta Rhymes: I think everybody's been inspired by him, what he represented as a man and what he represented through his music. Growing up in a household where his music was played – when I was a child up to being a grown man now – I think about what Bob Marley amplified through his music. Even before he became Bob Marley, the Rasta that we've all grown to know commercially in the group with Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh, he was wearing a fade and wearing black suits like The Temptations and The O'Jays. I was listening to his music as a child because my parents were such big fans of Bob Marley. Whoever has not had the opportunity to get to know what and who this man is are doing themselves a major injustice.
TWU: What was his most important contribution in your opinion?
Busta Rhymes: His most important contribution was what he decided to stand for and represent, which is probably the closest thing to godliness that I have seen amplified by a man through music that wasn't something that was so religion-based, it was more personal-based and more moralities. I think that's probably his greatest contribution.
TWU: As somebody who has contributed rather a lot to music yourself, what is it like for you when it comes to working on a new project?
Busta Rhymes: It’s the same process. It's the same thing every time: I'm excited about making music. I look forward to going to the studio and creating a hit record, music that makes people feel good. So, it's the same feeling. I'm just glad that I still have the same excitement and enthusiasm about making music. I'm a fan of the culture of hip-hop. I'm just one of those guys that really loves his job. I look forward to every opportunity that I have to go and do that thing I love.
TWU: So, on top of that passion, what do you feel are the main things that have contributed to your longevity as an artist?
Busta Rhymes: Being a fan of my culture and being a fan of the music; it allows the fire to stay lit.
TWU: Speaking of fire, this final question is a little off the wall, but since you are so well-known for your apocalyptic imagery, if we were to have a hip-hop apocalypse would you like to see anybody in particular as rap's last man standing?
Busta Rhymes: I don't know. I've never thought of that one, but I don't know if I myself could be the last standing because it ain't no fun being the only one still standing! (Laughs) What makes hip-hop so beautiful is the competitive nature of the sport. Get what I'm saying? We bring the best out of each other, so to be the last standing means that there's no-one else standing, that would mean it would be very lonely and that would mean that we won't really have the same nature. The same nature wouldn't exist if your comrades weren't standing with you. We definitely bring the best out of each other, being competitive. Everybody wants to write the hotter verse. Everybody wants to have the biggest song. Everybody wants to have the more powerful effect when we're performing together because of the nature of this thing. It's a competitive thing. Hip-hop is tripping on that – the blood running through our veins, that competitive DNA. If we don't have a few of us standing, it doesn't make it worth doing anymore...
TWU: Absolutely! Well, let's just hope that disaster doesn't strike...
Busta Rhymes: (Laughs)
Busta Rhymes will be performing at the number one reggae event in the UK, One Love Peace Festival, at Wembley Arena on July 31. For more information, go to: www.originalonelove.com
Stay up to date with Busta Rhymes on Twitter – www.twitter.com/BusaBusss
Words: Hannah O'Connor (@HipHopSuperhan)
Online editing: Joseph 'JP' Patterson (@Jpizzledizzle)