Busta Rhymes’ forthcoming “Hot for the Holidays” concert is stacked. As he prepares to celebrate his 25th anniversary in hip-hop as of January 2016 (his debut The Coming will also turn 20 years old next year), the Conglomerate CEO is calling in VIPs for a star-studded show including Sean “Diddy” Combs, Mary J. Blige, Lil Wayne, Sean Paul, French Montana, Jeremih, Fetty Wap and other performers to be announced.
Before he takes his catalog and best friends to New Jersey’s Prudential Center in Newark on Dec. 5, Busta talked shop about his sole grievance with artists on the come-up, the protein shake incident that kept his name in headlines and working with comedian Aziz Ansari for the Netflix series Master of None.
How did you begin to even tackle creating the lineup for “Hot for the Holidays”?
I mean, it’s really just a relationship thing. When you establish and build great relationships throughout the years, the love gets reciprocated and you get what you give. I’ve always been raised to value relationships. When you do good by people, you get good back from people. It’s just reciprocal love.
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As the head of Conglomerate Entertainment, you’re always grooming new talent. What do you feel artists like Fetty Wap and Jeremih, who are on your bill, contribute to the crop of artists coming up in the social media age?
I think that it’s dope because at the end of the day, them brothers are talented, number one. Jeremih, I’m a fan of him. Fetty Wap, I’m a fan of his. The thing that I love about them is they hold up a certain integrity and a certain fundamental that also allows you to like them as people. I think as generations change, the rules that [new artists] feel are important changes and it’s just good to see when some of the newer dudes still hold on to some of the values and fundamentals this shit was built on. Sometimes, I think that’s neglected by some of the younger, newer dudes in terms of having the proper respect, just the conscious effort to do their homework so that it can just make them become that much more greater, even in their own way.
What are you not a fan of when it comes to the newer generation?
I’m just not rocking with the shit that feels redundant. [Pauses.] Sometimes when you in the club, you hear 10 records in about 45 minutes but the shit all sounds like one song. I’m not a fan of that shit. I just think that there’s a lot more to the creative approach that made the game that much more diversified and challenging because there was a time when you was more inclined to do your own thing as opposed to sounding like that thing that’s the cool thing to sound like. Find that balance. Still be brilliant, still be genius but don’t lose people in the process. There’s a science to that. Shit ain’t easy.
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How did you end up on Aziz Ansari’s Netflix series Master of None?
I got an amazing agent. Her name is Tracy Christian. She’s been a part of me for a long time. Mona Scott [Young], who used to manage me with Chris Lighty, introduced me to Tracy. They’ve been very instrumental in my life for some years. Aziz Ansari was just a big supporter of Busta Rhymes and had love for me as an artist and actor. I’m a huge fan of his. I think he’s incredible and in a unique space — he’s a one-of-one. We don’t know too many Aziz Ansaris, especially in the comedic universe, so I’m a big fan of him. I love how he reps hip-hop. I love how he reps as an entertainer and I think he’s a funny motherf—er. When I got the call that he was really trying to rock with the kid, it just felt like a beautiful opportunity to not only explore but just maximize, man. It was fun and it was easy. I had to get up early in the morning, but it was live. [Laughs.]
Early bird gets the worm, or in this case, the Netflix cameo. For those who haven’t seen the series yet, you tell Aziz to “charge it to the race card” when he’s confronted with a workplace struggle. Have you ever had to charge it to the race card?
Nah. Fortunately, I didn’t have to charge the race card to the game. I’m a little different in that sense, you know. Whenever I’m confronted with it, I address it. That’s film and that’s television but real-life is a whole other dynamic. You got to deal with situations from time to time from people, from police officers, that may not necessarily care about your celebrity or care about you as a recording artist and it’s cool because everybody should be dealt with respect and integrity, and with the same treatment they would want in return. Unfortunately that’s not the case [for everyone] so when you gotta do what you gotta do in those moments, base those decisions on what the circumstances are manifesting themselves to be.
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Were the recent allegations about you throwing a protein shake at a gym employee a case based on respect and integrity?
I think the situation with that was really about something simply being blown out of proportion and yes, primarily, it was about disrespect. The situation was blown out of proportion tremendously by the police, the press and by the individual that alleged what they alleged. It was obvious that these were allegations that were not accurate. If they were accurate, the second-degree felony that I was charged with would not have been reduced to a violation, which is not even a criminal charge, and only a fine for $420 dollars, so I think that the results of the situation and the facts speak for themselves. I’m glad it’s over and behind me. At the end of the day, it wasn’t a big deal in the first place. The fact that it came to this point was a waste of a bunch of people’s time and energy but that’s the one thing I love about the truth. It’s undisputed, regardless what people say or do. I’m actually in a place where i can look back at it and laugh and focus on my phenomenal “Busta Rhymes & Friends” event. I’m just trying to keep the momentum of this amazing blessing and show the world that hard work, being stand-up and being true to yourself and your people and to what you supposed to represent, knowing right and wrong, really, really takes you across that finish line when you can laugh and jump around with your hands high, face held up, chest poked out, feeling victorious and feeling rightly deserving of it.
When are you planning to bless your fans with a new album?
I’m actually going to put out a body of work in the next couple of weeks as a surprise project that we will disclose probably within the next week. And then we are really gonna start seeing a back-to-back onslaught of phenomenal bodies of work as 2016 [comes] around in a couple of weeks. We’re gonna close out the year with something nice for the people to turn-up to for the holidays.
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Lastly, Diddy just dropped his MMM project, and he’s on your concert bill. Will you two be reuniting on wax soon?
I mean I usually make records based on what feels right and I can tell you that we definitely stumbled upon something extremely right that you’re gonna get next year. We actually just completed the record a few months ago. It’s unbelievably incredible so we’ll be seeing me and Diddy again. It’s just exciting to know that after all of these years, me and my bro, one of my closest friends and comrades in this music game, we can still run around this bitch and still have a good time. Tear these streets up the way we always dreamed of doing it.