Busta Rhymes' Success Is 'Safe'

Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.

Busta Rhymes is an unstoppable creative force. Coming off the platinum-plus success of "Genesis," his J Records debut, Rhymes returned Nov. 26 with his sophomore J release -- and sixth career offering -- "It Ain't Safe No More..."

Having released "Genesis" less than a year ago, some might view the turnaround time between albums hasty. But for Rhymes it was the opposite.

"When I'm finished with one album, I don't have s*** to do until the next," says Rhymes. "I'll be doing shows and partying at the concerts, but after the show is over I'm mad bored. So instead of kidding around, I might as well write some rhymes and make some hot, new s***. I have to do something to occupy my time."

Rhymes began production on "It Ain't Safe No More..." following his stint on the Area2 tour with Moby and David Bowie.

"It didn't influence the direction of the music, but it did influence my outlook on how many motherf***ers I'm not getting a chance to reach because I'm not their kind of an artist," Rhymes says of the tour. "I don't [usually] get those platforms to perform and promote what I'm doing. So when I went out there, I felt like I had never had an album out before.

"For the most part, I treat it all the same," he adds. "People embrace a feel-good energy even if they don't understand the culture or the music. If the energy feels right, they'll still throw their hands up for you and embrace your vibe. Vibe is priceless-you just have to be able to communicate in a way that can help them relate to what you specifically want them to relate to. If people see you smiling, they're going to smile with you."

The success of "Genesis," which peaked at No. 2 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and at No. 7 on The Billboard 200, marked Rhymes' second-most-successful effort, after 1997's "When Disaster Strikes."

"It wasn't everything that I expected it to be, but it definitely met a level of expectation that kind of superceded what I did expect, because ['Genesis'] was one of the first hip-hop albums J had put out," Rhymes says. "I didn't know what to expect, and in a situation where there really wasn't a track record to say that they know what they're doing in this area, you're going to expect the worst first."

That said, Rhymes has even higher hopes and expectations for "It Ain't Safe No More..."

"I love this album in a way that I haven't loved an album in a long time. With the comfort of knowing that I'm back in a good place in the market, I feel like this time we can really put the nail in the coffin and kill this shit and in an overwhelming way supercede everything that I've accomplished in my career."

Rhymes, who hopes to launch a U.S. tour in January, takes a hands-on approach to every aspect of his career and serves as executive producer on "It Ain't Safe No More...": "If at any given point -- being that tomorrows are never promised -- my career comes to a screaming halt, I don't want to live with the regret that I wasn't able to die in my own iniquity," Rhymes says. "I'd rather know that if something didn't go right, it's because of me, as opposed to leaving it in somebody else's hands."

Excerpted from the Dec. 7, 2002, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com members section.

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