September 17, 2008

Busta Rhymes - When DIsaster Strikes (September 23, 1997)


Trevor Smith, known as Busta Rhymes to his parole officer, saw his debut solo album, The Coming, sell a ton of copies, which was gratifying for him, since he's been involved in our chosen genre for many years: he was originally part of the Leaders of the New School, and reinvented himself as hip hop's reigning cameo king, a title that he refuses to relinquish even today: a cursory glance at other blogs reveals his Thomas Edison-like level of output.

The Coming did so well that Busta's label, Elektra Records, predictably commissioned a follow up. When Disaster Strikes hit store shelves a year and a half after Busta's first opus surprised critics and fans alike, and it hit the charts with a bang: its first single, "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See", still receives much love on the Interweb, thanks to its eye-catching video, infectious shuffle of a beat, and the fact that it is a really fucking great song. Two other singles followed, one of which, in a highly unusual move at the time, was a remix to one of the album tracks, "Turn It Up", and was made available only as a single: it was later added on to future pressings of When Disaster Strikes after a successful run on the Billboard charts.

When Disaster Strikes was also a success for Busta Rhymes, even with the common theme it shared with The Coming: namely, the obsession with the end of the world, which would normally be a downer for most people. Instead, Busta chose to embrace what would eventually become a Y2K frenzy, capitalizing on the public's lack of knowledge regarding the situation and basic fear-mongering.

Don't worry, When Disaster Strikes also features club-ready tracks.

1. INTRO
This isn't your usual self-important rap album intro. No, thanks to Busta's insistence (over the first few discs in his catalog) in the belief that the world was going to end once the new millennium hit, this is a really fucking pretentious and self-important rap album intro.

2. THE WHOLE WORLD LOOKIN' AT ME
This isn't bad. Sounds like a reject from The Coming, and I mean that in the best possible way. A pretty good combination of Busta's more animated persona and the Mr. Rhymes that knows how to string words together and mold them into a verse.

3. SURVIVAL HUNGRY
This sounds like a reject from The Coming, and I mean that in the worst possible way. The beat grows old fairly quickly, and nothing that Busta manages to say can help matters. Due to that reasoning, it makes sense that this was the song deleted from the second pressing of When Disaster Strikes, in order to make room for "Turn It Up (Remix) / Fire It Up", which ended up being the third single.

4. WHEN DISASTER STRIKES
The instrumental is much too slow to warrant Busta's speed-rapping. The weird singing on the hook also reminds me of a lounge singer in the 1940s, which I'm sure was the intent, but that doesn't automatically make it any good.

5. SO HARDCORE
The beat sounds like something that may have fit better on A Tribe Called Quest's Beats, Rhymes, & Life, which makes sense when you realize that it was produced by The Ummah. The hook recalls a much better Busta track, "Everything Remains Raw", from The Coming. Unlike "Everything Remains Raw", though, there is nothing memorable about this song.

6. GET HIGH TONIGHT
I don't usually condone any rap song that uses KC & The Sunshine Band as a reference point, but "Get High Tonight" is no exception. Also, it's really fucking boring.

7. TURN IT UP
Oddly, I prefer this album version over the remix that was much more popular, with its Knight Rider sample and its confusing-for-no-reason title (it couldn't just be called the "Turn It Up" remix, they had to call it "Turn It Up (Remix) / Fire It Up"). That may only be due to the fact that Timbaland's "Clock Strikes (Remix)", which uses the same sample, was strangely sent to radio and BET at the exact same time. It's almost like how Hollywood always seems to have competing projects with similar themes, such as Deep Impact and Armageddon, except not nearly as entertaining. Not that Armageddon was entertaining, though: it was a Michael Bay movie, after all.

8. PUT YOUR HANDS WHERE MY EYES COULD SEE
Wins the contest for Best First Single From a Busta Rhymes Solo Album Ever. I have no doubt that a lot of my two fans still hold this song in high regard, because it's really fucking good. Busta spits his shit over what was at that point a completely different sound, one which still works today: this song is a genuine joy to listen to. The video, which completely ripped off Coming To America, is also as memorable, especially the creepy-ass images during the final verse.

9. THERE'S NOT A PROBLEM MY SQUAD CAN'T FIX (FEAT JAMAL)
You would think, based on the title alone, that Busta would have included his own merry band of weed carriers, the Flipmode Squad, on this track. You would be wrong. Instead of his own crew, we get...Mally G from the Def Squad? Huh? Was Keith Murray unavailable?

10. WE COULD TAKE IT OUTSIDE (FEAT FLIPMODE SQUAD)
Oh, here they are. Even the mysterious member Serious, who would leave the crew for unknown reasons shortly after this album's release, pops up on here. This shit sounds downright pleasant, and I have to admit that the group sounds pretty comfortable rhyming with each other. If I'm not mistaken, this is also the first appearance of Rah Digga as an official Flipmode member, a position she filled while holding her day job as a member of Tha Outsidaz.

11. RHYMES GALORE
Short and sweet. Busta goes off on a simplistic Rashad Smith beat that lays just enough groundwork for him to completely spazz out on, as if someone had secretly replaced his meds with brown M&Ms.

12. THINGS WE BE DOIN' FOR MONEY, PT. 1
Truthfully, I wasn't buying Busta's tough-guy persona back in 1997, so the song never really rang true for me. Funnily enough, though, I actually would believe him today if he had released the track now, thanks to his associations with certain people in the industry, the murder of his bodyguard on his video set, and his multiple DUIs.

13. THINGS WE BE DOIN' FOR MONEY, PT. 2 (FEAT RAMPAGE, ANTHONY HAMILTON, & THE CHOSEN GENERATION)
The film guy in me doesn't really like sequels, unless there is obviously more story for the director or screenwriter to tell. Due to the inclusion of Rampage's point of view, though, this song's existence is justified.

14. ONE (FEAT ERYKAH BADU)
Meh.

15. DANGEROUS
For the video, Trevor dug even deeper into his 1980s film collection and came out with The Last Dragon, which is simply awesome. The song itself is still catchy, if a little weird, but the one thing that sticks out in my memory of the clip is that I originally thought Busta Rhymes was playing every role: it wasn't until years later that I found out Busta's potholder Spliff Star also plays a part. Huh.

16. THE BODY ROCK (FEAT PUFF DADDY, MA$E, & RAMPAGE)
When Disaster Strikes was released during the height of the Bad Boy era of hip hop, so of course Elektra Records would purposely aim for these fans. I actually liked this song back when I was going through my Bad Boy phase (back in 1997, when I was listening to more of the radio piffle in an obvious and ultimately ridiculous attempt at relating to girls), but today, it sounds pedestrian. (I read a review somewhere that compared this song to an early A Tribe Called Quest track. A side note to whomever wrote that statement: are you out of your fucking mind?!) The bonus interlude that follows, featuring Spliff Star spitting a verse, makes me laugh because Busta promises a Spliff solo album by the end of 1997, an promise that he has, to date, not yet fulfilled.

17. GET OFF MY BLOCK (FEAT LORD HAVE MERCY)
This song isn't very good, but it's good to hear Lord Have Mercy again. Whatever happened to that guy after he left Flipmode, anyway? Oh wait, never mind, he's here with that Chinese food that I ordered.

18. OUTRO (PREPARATION FOR THE FINAL WORLD FRONT)
A pretentious outro that pairs up nicely with the bullshit intro, although Busta goes out of his way to thank the listeners, so that was a nice surprise.

International copies of When Disaster Strikes include a bonus track.

IT'S ALL GOOD
This song was supposedly banned in the United States because of its frank depiction of sexual situations. In reality, it was probably simply left off of the US release because it was fucking boring. It also manages to literally make fucking boring.

FINAL THOUGHTS: When Disaster Strikes isn't much of an improvement from The Coming, but its sound is certainly consistent: oddly, this sounds more like an actual album than Busta's debut ever could. Some of the guest spots are ill-advised, and some of the beats sound like horseshit, but even though he didn't create a good sophomore album, at least Busta Rhymes proved that he was in it for the long haul.

BUY OR BURN? You should probably just burn this one. A handful of songs are entertaining as hell, and the rest are pleasant enough, but not pleasant enough to actually get dressed and go to the store for. Keep that money to put toward your incessant addiction to coke and whores, which, given the stock market these days, is a much better investment than real estate or your children's futures.

BEST TRACKS: "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See"; "Dangerous"; "The Whole World Lookin' At Me"; "Rhymes Galore"

-Max

RELATED POSTS:
Busta Rhymes - The Coming

5 comments:

  1. are you sure someone didn't compare that song with puffy & mase to de la's "the bizness"? it's a complete, obvious and very wack rip-off.
    in contrast to his more current work, this album is (mostly) listenable...but it still sucks.

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  2. Disappointing album with a couple of good songs. But a nice review


    Doesn't seem like there's anything on the radio today that's going to hit you with the shit and make you feel it all in you toes

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  3. "so hardcore" wuz my joint... and i'm not just sayin that becuz jay dee did the beat. that track rocks. tribe wouldn't have sounded right on that beat at all. that track is way too hard for them and they wouldn't have been able to provide the necessary energy.

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  4. I too was on a Bad Boy phase back in '97, when Puffy was everywhere! The beat on "The Body Rock" is repetitive and boring.

    When I listen to this album nowadays I usually listen to the first half then skip to "Dangerous."

    Awesome review!

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  5. AnonymousJune 09, 2014

    I will commit blasphemy right here and now.

    "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See", one of the most insipid song titles I've ever seen, is truly a shitty song. I can't stand Busta's delivery, and the lyrics themselves are every generic rapper alive.

    I've seen this crappy piece of music on Complex's "Magnum Opus", and the way they praise it to the heavens confirms that it truly is a shitty song. How can you go from highlighting songs like "T.R.O.Y." and "Come Clean" to this horseshit?

    I know the entire Earth loves this song, but the reason is a mystery to me. I like to think it's the same reason that people worship 2Pac's "All Eyez On Me". It was burnt into their subconsciousness by the mainstream. After all, it WAS inescapable.

    ReplyDelete