Busta Rhymes recalls Leaders Of The New School tensions, his solo journey & ‘the old Bussa Bus’


As one of my top five emcees dead or alive I loved reading Busta Rhymes‘ recent interview with Elliott Wilson for RESPECT magazine, for its insight on him more as a person over and beyond the rap personas. In the feature, Rhymes discusses the personal disagreements that went on among Leaders of The New School, through the tension surrounding his guest feature on A Tribe Called Quest‘s “The Scenario,” before his reluctant departure from the group to pursue a solo career.

He reminisces on the rapid success he experienced following the release of club classic, “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See,” and the financial comfortability provided by his following singles, journeying through to the present in rediscovering “the old Bussa Bus,” spurred on by fans reactions to his role in DJ Khaled‘s “All I Do Is Win” remix – and keeping that lyrical fire;

“I’ve never lost, and I don’t think I’ll ever lose, that fire and that passion and that drive to wanna hear myself dismantle a beat.”

Read excerpts below.

On solo after Leaders Of The New School fallout:

“I never really wanted to do the solo shit. But Charlie Brown had it in his head that he was the leader of the group. The way the group dynamic was—every decision was collective. The Leaders of the New School was owned 25 percent times four. We functioned and operated as a corporation. Everybody had to make decisions collectively, so there wasn’t no boss shit. Even creatively, when we were doing songs, we voted. The majority rule was the way we went with it, even if you ain’t like it.

“But then when we started to put the records out, and the consumer started to pick who their favorite was, that’s when the bullshit started. Me and Brown had the outspoken personalities, and it made it seem like we were competing for the shine. It got to the point where me and this dude were bloodying up each other’s shit before the shows.

On the impact of “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See” and beyond:

“From the success of The Coming, I had hardware on my wall. I was coming home looking at a platinum album and a platinum single. Seven-figure money was starting to hit the account, constantly. And then When Disaster Strikes was done, and I had “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See.” I was like, Jesus.

“We were at the Roxy, and Kid Capri was DJing. I came in there with one of my mans, and Kid Capri played the shit for the third time, for the fourth time, for the fifth time, for the sixth time, for the seventh time, for the eighth time. By the eleventh time straight, no other song in between, I damn near started crying in the club, because I couldn’t believe that I’d done something that was so compelling that warranted that kind of love from the DJ. And the club was demanding that he keep playing it.

“Roc-a-fella and Terror Squad crossed paths in that spot that night, and you just started seeing bottles wildin’. Capri stopped the music: “Yo, y’all niggas chill the fuck out, man. Don’t fuck up the party.” Niggas still wildin’. He was like, “I know what’s gonna stop y’all from beefing”—[makes beat noises] for the twelfth time. That song stopped the beef.

“I said, “Oh, my God.” I was like, What am I gonna make to follow up that record? And if niggas was gonna want this all the time, I just hoped I could meet that standard, meet that demand. And after that, the “Dangerous” record came, and that shit took on a life of its own. The video budgets went from $200,000 and $300,000 to 500-something thousand and 700-something thousand, to $1 million, to $2.4 million by the time we got the Janet Jackson video on Extinction Level Event. Money wasn’t a factor no more.

On financial stability and priceless passion for Hip Hop:

“If I don’t get another thing from this business—I don’t lose no sleep. Because my family is so comfortable financially, stability wise, spiritually, emotionally—everybody’s good. That ain’t never been compromised in my 20-year run. I may not put a record out for a year, and I still generate four, five, six million dollars just touring with no current records out.

“I’ve never lost, and I don’t think I’ll ever lose, that fire and that passion and that drive to wanna hear myself dismantle a beat. It’s as simple as that. It’s the biggest feeling in the world. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten the kind of money that could really explain how priceless that feeling is. I’m cut from the cloth of that competitive shit, which was primarily the greatest reward you could get as an MC.”

–Busta Rhymes, in conversation with Elliott Wilson for RESPECT Magazine >> Read the full feature here.

Busta Rhymes photographed in Miami Beach by Colby Katz

Privacy Preference Center