Busta Rhymes made an emphatic statement in his return to music, while setting the tone for 2018 on his groovy single “Get It.” The tune enlists frequent collaborators and legends in their own right with Missy Elliott and Kelly Rowland.
Bus-a-Bus will be gracing television sets across the country, when he appears in Mountain Dew and Doritos’ “hottest Super Bowl commercial on the planet” Sunday (Feb. 4) next to Missy Elliott, Peter Dinklage and Morgan Freeman.
The 45-year-old remains tightlipped about his highly anticipated upcoming project, but he admits the untitled album will “drop before the midway point of 2018.” Busta credited his patience throughout the creative process, even calling the LP his “most compelling body of work” to date.
Billboard caught up with The Conglomerate Entertainment CEO live from Minneapolis to get his thoughts on 20 years of Extinction Level Event, plans to collaborate with Missy Elliott on the video for “Get It,” and the improbable story that led to crafting the Grammy-nominated “What’s It Gonna be?!” alongside Janet Jackson.
How did you end up starring in Mountain Dew and Doritos joint Super Bowl commercial alongside Missy Elliott, Peter Dinklage and Morgan Freeman?
It’s an incredible moment and I’m definitely proud of it. I think it’s the hottest commercial on the planet. I feel that it’s one of the best commercials in Super Bowl history. It doesn’t get more incredible than [Missy Elliott], Peter Dinklage, and Morgan Freeman coming together.
Our culture of hip-hop is being properly represented. It’s a great bag of energy and vibes. I loved doing it — the experience on the set was incredible and watching people’s energy over it was even more fulfilling for me. I’m basking in the moment.
Who is your pick for the Super Bowl?
I’m going with Philly and the Eagles.
How did “Get It” featuring Missy Elliott and Kelly Rowland come together?
It came together because the music for the track set the tone. It’s doesn’t sound like anything else. It follows the tradition of music I’ve always done — make music that stood alone and also shifted the climate. I want it to stick out like a sore thumb and the track did that when I heard it. It was produced by Bangladesh and the only other counterpart I thought that would be incredible rhyming with me was [Missy Elliott].
It was interesting to use Kelly Rowland [on a loop] rather than sing traditionally. I don’t think we ever heard Missy speed rap before. I just love what the music did. I feel it’s going to work in the parties, the clubs and work in the street and every setting. Everybody knows me traditionally to bring that good energy to a situation every time I step in the room.
It came together organically, but the music set the tone for the direction I felt the song needed to go in. Missy did her verse at one point and sent it to me and I put the song together. Kelly Rowland was with Bangladesh when she did her vocals. I got with Missy after the song was done so she could hear it and make an adjustment. She tried to make me go make an adjustment. I was like wait a minute, “You’re not busting my ass on my own record.”
Is there a video for the track in the works?
Yeah, so now that we’re finally going to have a moment where it’s going to be me and [Missy Elliott], the video is going to be unbelievably out of control. I want the world to look forward to that. The world is going to stop when we drop that.
What can you reveal about your upcoming album as far as title or release date?
Absolutely nothing. The only thing I am going to say is that this is definitely going to be my most compelling body of work that I’ve ever put together. I haven’t dropped an album in retail since 2009. I am really proud of this project. I was very patient with it and took my time. Patience was probably one of my greatest weapons when putting this project together, because there was things I ended up stumbling on that ended up on the album years into the recording.
I’ve been working on this album on and off for nine years. There’s going to be an announcement made soon on the title and we should definitely be having this album drop before the midway point of 2018.
What was the creative process on your last single “Girlfriend,” featuring Vybz Kartel and Tory Lanez?
That was an incredible experience for me as well, because I’m a huge fan of Vybz Kartel. I’m always going to be a huge fan of his, because he’s brilliant to me. So to have the opportunity to collab with him was incredible. I was fortunate enough to have a few with him. [Vybz Kartel] is a good friend.
Tory Lanez is incredible at what he does as well. I really feel pretty much 95 percent of everything that he’s done. What makes him even more incredible to me is the ability he has to balance the dynamic of West-Indian cultural significance through the feeling of his music with hip-hop and R&B.
He’s just this triple threat in terms of the way he approaches his music creatively. That was legendary, being able to shoot the video with the incredible Ninjaman and Junior Reid and the number one female dancehall artist, Spice. For them to come out and show love to us was an incredible experience.
With 2018 marking the 20-year anniversary for Extinction Level Event, what do you remember most about the album?
We’re going to be celebrating the entire year. It’s one of my proudest moments in my entire catalog of music. I was definitely transitioning. I’ve always had great embrace on the international side. The international significance with the music in the culture, entertainment, in the marketplace overall. I really enjoyed the space I was in when I was recording that album. I was really feeling indestructible.
How did “What’s It Gonna Be?!” with Janet Jackson come together?
The [Janet Jackson] record came about as a result of her touring on her Velvet Rope Tour and she came to New York and did a radio interview on Hot 97 with Angie Martinez, who asked her, “Is there any hip-hop artist that you hasn’t worked with that you would like to?” And [Janet Jackson] said, “Busta Rhymes.” I was actually in my vehicle driving from Long Island to [New York City] and I had to pull over because I almost crashed.
You hear artists on the radio when they’re on tour or doing a record, but when it’s someone you really love and look up to and have been inspired by or had a crush on and that was all of the above to me. Janet’s one of my favorite artists ever to exist in the world. To hear her say that was one of the biggest highlights of my life.
I had Mona Scott Young, who was my manager with Chris Lighty, notify management. I told them to get [Janet] on the phone. [Mona] got Janet on the phone and interestingly enough I told Janet, “I had the perfect song for her,” and I didn’t even have the song yet.
With that being said we found the perfect song, once I said all that I had to deliver. I guess I’m pretty good under pressure. I got with the right people to collaborate and put the song together, which ended up becoming one of the most historical moments of my career. It’s an incredible thing to know that 20 years later people can still celebrate the greatness of it.