Perched just above the crowd onstage at New York’s Santo’s Party House, Busta Rhymes loudly growled to the antsy audience, “We gonna make sure we start feeling a certain way about shit,” as sweat dripped past his designer sunglasses and onto his face. “If you ain”t back on ya bullshit you ain’t on no shit.”
Moments later Brooklyn’s M.O.P. rushed the stage to the blaring horns of “Anti Up” and ignited the mix of young and not-so-young spectators into full neck snappery. Those in attendance may have waited more than two hours for Bus-a-Bus to appear, but the veteran rapper — whose eighth studio album, Back on My B.S. is due today, has long been recognized as one of hip-hop’s premiere live performers and just doesn’t have it in him to disappoint.
Backed by DJ Roc Raida and flanked by his omnipresent hypeman Spliff Star, Bus delivered a tight, raucous, burst of energy over an 85-minute set on Monday night. In addition to M.O.P., Jadakiss and Ron Browz also joined the rowdy rapper onstage. Upstart hipster MC Kid Cudi, a labelmate, was in attendance as well.
The event, sponsored by MySpace and Adidas, marks Busta’s official return after a three-year layoff. The rapper parted ways with his last label, Aftermath/Interscope, where he released 2006’s The Big Bang to critical acclaim but small commercial success. He was then entangled in a number of legal cases. But Bus rejoined Sylvia Rhone, current head of Universal/Motown and former head of Elektra, where the rapper was signed during his ’90s heyday. Back on my B.S. is filled with collaborations from producers Cool & Dre and the Neptunes as well as T.I. and T-Pain, among others. The spirited effort hearkens back to the New York lyricist’s debut.
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“Who wanna go back to 1996 with me?” Busta snarled to much delight. His breakout hit, “Woohaa,” blasted over the sound system. The rapper proceeded to run through a number of hits throughout his impressive solo catalog. “Tear the Roof Off, “Fired Up,” and “Make it Clap” all led up to Busta presenting music from his new collection.
“Y’all wanna hear new shit?” Busta asked. The crafty wordsmith spoke to the crowd intermittently during his set, but he communicates with fans on a regular basis online. A convert to the digital age, Busta has recently been ubiquitous on the Net with vlogs, downloadable mixtapes and Twitter dispatches. “This Internet shit is bringing out some real hip-hoppers,” Busta said. “Its making us all live in one neighborhood.”
One the last songs of the late night was “Decisions,” which features Common, Mary J. Blige, Jamie Foxx, andÂ John Legend on the album. Busta explained how the track, on which he speaks about a number of his recent troubles, reeled in all the talented guests. One artist heard it, and word spread about the song, he said, which in turn led to each following artist asking to contribute. Busta stopped the song short after one verse and one chorus, where he crooned in place of Jamie Foxx.
“I can’t finish the song cause I ain’t Common,” the MC told the crowd.” I can’t sing like Jamie, even though I tried. I cant freak it like Mary. And I can’t kill it like John. I tried.
“But,” he added, before pausing and smiling. “Now that gives you a reason to go out and get the album tomorrow.”