August 6, 2010

My Gut Reaction: Busta Rhymes - Anarchy (June 20, 2000)

After the dismal listening experience that was Extinction Level Event: The Final Reason To Give A Fuck About Busta Rhymes, I stopped following the career of Busta Rhymes.  Sadly, nobody followed my lead, and to this day Trevor Smith continues to sell millions of records as one of the most apathetic artists in the game.  But at least he's focused much of his recent energy into getting folks out onto the dance floor and on driving while intoxicated; back in 2000, when his fourth solo album Anarchy dropped on Elektra Records, he was still convinced that the world was going to end when the clock struck January 1, 2000, even though Anarchy dropped more than six months after the fact.

It's possible that I failed to notice Anarchy sitting on store shelves when I didn't hear any singles on the radio.  I know there had to have been some singles, at least one, but I heard nothing about them until I picked this up from the library and did some Wikipedia research.  I suppose they must not have been very successful; whenever the radio stations around my way decide to include ol' dirty Trevor in their mixes, they inevitable go with what has become his signature song, "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See" (although these days, I admit that I have heard the shit out of his newer "hit", "Stop The Party", with Swizz Beatz trying to emulate his own work on Jay-Z's "On To The Next One"). 

I've noticed that, after spending his last album pretending he didn't exist, Busta has reconnected with the late J. Dilla for Anarchy.  The producer formerly known as Jay Dee had provided some of the better contributions to Trevor's first two solo albums, but was discarded on number three in favor of the mainstream sounds of the aforementioned Swizz Beatz, who also appears on here, because of course he does.  Regular collaborator DJ Scratch turns in a few appearances behind the boards, as do Just Blaze, Scott Storch, Nottz, and one other guy who I'm keeping secret until we get to his song, mainly because it shocked the hell out of me that Busta was even aware of his continued existence.

I would hope that Anarchy won't be a complete waste of my time, but I think I already sealed my fate with the whole "I've never heard any of the singles" thing.  If the marketing tools used to sell the product aren't memorable, then the rest of Anarchy can't be much better.

That's my line of thinking, anyway.

Oh my fucking God. Are you fucking kidding me, Trevor?

Fairly embarrassing for both Busta and his producer, DJ Scratch, who somehow talked our host into liberally borrowing from “Betcha By Golly Wow!” by The Stylistics for the hook, all while not living up to his end of the bargain, providing a weak-ass adult contemporary instrumental instead of something that should be earth-shattering, given the song title “Salute Da Gods!!” and the album title Anarchy. It's too soon to have a bad feeling about this shit, right? Right?

On which Trevor fails to convince anybody listening that his music is still enjoyable. That may sound harsh, but it's the truth: Dilla's nonthreatening production forces Busta into a non-aggressive pattern, where he typically comes across as boring. This sounds like Busta's audition tape for joining up with the Native Tongues, only with more profanity and even more apathy. I can't imagine that anybody would find this shit entertaining, but I've been wrong before: I'm sure this is actually your favorite song. It's just too bad you have such terrible taste.

Swizz's beat fails to register as actual music, so you can imagine how the rest of this sounds. Subject matter-wise, this comes across as an outtake from When Disaster Strikes, back when Busta Rhymes had re-branded himself as a mildly successful solo artist who, naturally, let it all go to his head. You know, for a former hip hop cameo king who was frequently called upon to perform song hooks, Busta sure as hell has no clue how to write a chorus these days. What a shame.

Scott Storch's simplistic beat isn't awful: in fact, it kind of saves Busta's dull performance. Thus far, this is the most engaging track on Anarchy, and the fact that it still isn't very good doesn't give me high hopes for the rest of this write-up. Trevor is obviously coasting on here, spouting random catchphrases directing his “n---z” and his “bitches” to “bounce” to this shit; I feat that most of these “n----z” and “bitches” will read the alternate meaning of “bounce” and simply leave.

Who the fuck would ever listen to this shit in the street? Sesame street, perhaps, but I believe the Children's Television Workshop (or whatever they're called today) would have an issue with the use of profanity as a substitute for substance. Groan.

Busta Rhymes may indeed tongue-kiss Dilla's instrumental (as mixed by his old friend Kamaal the Abstract Poetic) as if it were fried chicken (I wouldn't know personally, as I'm not in the habit of showing affection to food items), but he obviously wasn't very hungry: his performance on “Live It Up” is technically proficient and bland and unappealing all at once. Have you ever reserved a rental car to discover that all they have left is a Yugo? It'll get you where you need to go, but you're still tempted to abandon the ugly piece of shit on the side of the highway, just so you won't feel dirty by association. That's how I feel about Anarchy right now.

This may have been a single: Busta's self-produced high-energy beat sounds mildly familiar, anyway. Trevor sounds amped up on here, as if he had been drinking green tea all day prior to entering the booth, and his effort on the track is obvious: I wouldn't be surprised to learn that this was the first song recorded for Anarchy, and the rest was laid down in a twenty-four hour haze of weed and Red Bull the night before the label demanded a final product for mastering. This wasn't a terrible song, but it pales when compared to the rest of Busta's catalog.

I haven't witnessed a rap artist in this type of creative freefall since Prodigy of Mobb Deep. Yeah, I just went there. All of Busta's verses sound as though they were written by committee, and the beats on Anarchy are almost uniformly aggravating. Sorry Trevor, but this sucks. It is what it is. No wonder the man drinks so goddamn much.

Okay, I may have spoken too soon. Aside from the generic title and the chorus that never fucking ends, “Show Me What You Got” is actually pretty good, thanks to Dilla's understated instrumental (taken from a sequel to The Coming that doesn't exist) and a renewed focus from our host. Busta isn't saying anything significant on here, but he manages to sound like he still cares, which is saying a lot. This was a surprise.

11. GET OUT!!!
And with this, which I believe was also a single, Busta Rhymes has used up his allocation of exclamation marks. I think this was a single because of its obvious aping of the Jay-Z / Mark The 45 King “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)” blueprint, and also because I think there's a video. Also, it sounds fucking godawful, with its gimmick running dry during the very first appearance of the sound bite taken from a children's choral performance of The Ugly Duckling, which keeps it in line with the radio singles of the day. Fuck this shit; Busta Rhymes should be creating trends, not trying to sound like everyone else.

This track doesn't really fit in on Anarchy, not in the least bit, and not just because it's a self-contained robbery tale that has fuck-all to do with the end of the world and the chaos that runs rampant afterward. It also sounds very goddamn good. Shit like this Large Professor-produced gem (I know, right?) help make sense of the fact that Busta Rhymes was once the executive producer of Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...Part II. Kudos to our host for not automatically bringing his cousin Rampage into the studio that day, instead allowing Roc Marciano to hone his craft alongside the constructive criticism of crime tale veterans Rae and Ghostface Killah. Even Busta sounds rejuvenated, unlike what we've heard on the rest of Anarchy. Nice!

After an unnecessary long introductory skit (which, admittedly, sets the stage for the song), Busta Rhymes tackles a storytelling rap without the aid of any guests, and he isn't that bad, even if the tale itself is fairly lacking. Busta has this ability to keep you hanging onto his every word simply by switching his combustible flow into something much more calm: it's too bad that skill set is wasted on a generic crime tale that isn't even worth of a lesser rapper (although the twist ending was fucking hilarious, so maybe I'm being too harsh).

I have never wanted, nor have I ever needed, to hear Busta Rhymes chat about the growth of his pubic hair, but I give him credit for tossing an oft-ignored aspect of puberty into a track detailing his childhood and growth into the “successful” rapper that he is today. Trevor is trying to open his hear up to the listeners, and the effort is appreciated, but this really isn't that good of a song.

Busta's Flipmode Squad brethren return for the obligatory posse cut, taking center stage on a track with the worst possible title Trevor could come up with. Just Blaze's bouncy beat grates on the nerves, and, in what is par for the course at this point, our host is the only one of the six participants who can even ride the instrumental without tripping over his shoelaces. (Roc Marcy comes close, though: it's little wonder why bloggers are currently all over the guy's nut sack as though it was Lindsay Lohan and they're the paparazzi.) Trevor ends the song by promoting a sophomore Flipmode Squad project that never came to fruition. Still, as weak as this shit is, I'd rather hear Busta rhyme with those guys (and Rah Digga) than alongside fucking Rick Ross as a part of Puffy's Dream Team. That was a severe miscalculation, Trevor.

This was so stupid that I can't even be bothered to write my opinion down.

Have I mentioned yet that the transitions between songs on Anarchy are terrible? Anyway, this musical cousin to “Gimme Some More” (from Extinction Level Event: The Final World Front) is notable only because it proves that Trevor is still capable of riding the highs and lows of the beat like no one else. He matches the strings on DJ Scratch's beat note for note: it's a shame that he says absolutely fucking nothing. Hitting on a couple of hip hop clich├ęs does not a full song make. Sigh.

Busta makes a big deal about Lenny Kravitz being a featured player on “Make Noise”, but he only briefly appears with on a guitar solo (as far as I can tell). Never mind the fact that this song also fails to make any noise whatsoever. When did Busta Rhymes become so predictable? Oh yeah, on his last album.

Busta may be one of the only rappers in the industry with the ability to spit alongside the perpetually angry Mash Out Posse without getting drowned out in a shouting sea. Thanks to Busta's weakened beat and the harmonizing during the chorus, this track never quite enters the pantheon of credible M.O.P. performances, though: this isn't as bad as that L.F.O. bullshit, but I couldn't remember anything about this shit ten seconds after it evaporated from my speakers.

Pairing up Busta Rhymes with DMX is a no-brainer: the former dueling hip hop cameo kings share an aggressive delivery and a way with words that make phrases sound much more violent than they should be. (In his prime, Earl Simmons could read his grocery list and make you want to battle your coworkers in the fight club that takes place in the storeroom on Thursday nights.) But throwing Shawn Carter into the mix is a mistake, as he is an entirely different class of emcee. That's not to say that Hova's contribution on this P. Killer Trackz-helmed production is the best of the three: in fact, his is the worst, mainly because he doesn't fit in with the other artists or with the overarching theme of the song. The fact that X only lists himself and Busta as participants only strengthens my theory that Jay-Z was a last-minute addition meant to sell a few more copies of Anarchy. Well, your plan failed, Trevor.

Any song entitled “Anarchy” should not include a sing-songy chorus. Winking at the audience doesn't help when you're actually trying to convince them of impending doom, Busta. You should know better.

Oh my fucking God. Are you fucking kidding me, Trevor?

THE LAST WORD: I hated Anarchy almost as much as Republicans hate same-sex marriages. There is truly nothing to recommend on the fourth solo album from Busta Rhymes: even the halfway decent songs sound terrible when heard within their proper context. Trevor aligns himself with some decent producers and coerces them into creating horrible fucking instrumentals, all while our host remains in the fantasy world of his mind, where society as we know it actually did end on January 1, 2000, deciding on what bars to rhyme together using a method consisting of a dartboard, 3x5 colored index cards, and a weed carry his weed (because Busta Rhymes is more than capable of throwing darts at a dartboard, thank you very much). Anarchy is the worst album in the man's catalog thus far, as there is nothing remotely redeeming about it. Busta Rhymes is resting on his laurels, which were only rentals to begin with, and at the rate he's going, he'll never be able to afford those payments. Fuck.


Catch up on the Busta Rhymes catalog by clicking here.


  1. This album is awful. Good review.

    Classic line: "This sounds like Busta's audition tape for joining up with the Native Tongues, only with more profanity and even more apathy."

    Nicely done.

  2. djbosscrewwreckaAugust 06, 2010

    I've never heard this album, and I've got no problem imagining it's as bad as you say, but 'The Heist' is a solid tune. Large Professor, Ghost, Raekwon, Roc Marciano = heat.
    Find out what all the bloggers are on about - howz about reviewing Roc Marciano - Marcberg?

  3. djbosscrewwrecka - it IS a solid tune: however, it isn't anywhere near good enough to save the album as a whole.

    We'll see about Marcberg.

  4. how bout you review an album people will actually give a shit about? just a thought.

  5. Max, I gots to agree with the above anonymous. Albums like this - no one gives a shit about - and if you review it doesn't change anything since it sucks.

    You should review some:
    - Run DMC
    - Public Enemy
    - Spice 1
    - MC Eiht (and Compton's Most Wanted)
    - I've already told you about this: Scarface and the Geto Boys (I can't submit reader reviews for every single album of theirs in your place, I know my opinion already, I wanna hear YOURS)

    And finally: you really need to review Beastie Boys' "Paul's Boutique". That shit is classic and better than 95% of the album's reviewed here, including the ones I did!

  6. Max, when are you going to review Michael Bolton? Please?

  7. Max.... Please let me open up my little notebook of things I really don't give a shit about. And here we have under the letter "A"...
    Afghanistan.... Avalanches.... Yup... "Anarchy" is still there.

    How about reviewing Bun B's "5 Mics" Album or Curren$y has gained a lot of praise for Pilot Talk. Would be nice to hear you bashing them.

  8. how bout sone fashawn’s boy meets world

  9. FLX already touched on the Fashawn album. Please refer to the list of artists in the sidebar for the link.

    And I understand that nobody cares about Anarchy, but (a) I don't care, (b) I needed to get it over with so that I could move deeper into Busta's catalog, and (c) please refer to (a).

    Thanks for reading!

  10. I understand what you try to say but you've told the readers previously to suggest rappers we think you should get to and that's exactly what we do. I mean why do we never see a Soulja Boy review here? Simple, because no one gives a fuck about him and everyone visiting this site realizes that he sucks. Same goes for whack albums no one would have checked out otherwise, no matter who made it. This is a fine example, but I understand you want to review it in order to go on in the Busta Rhymes discography.

    Last but not least, what's the point of displaying these reviews if it's made for your readers who don't care about them. Just making a point, that's all!

  11. I absolutely solicit advice on what to review next, but I have a process that I follow, which essentially means that I write about whatever I feel like listening to that day. Sometimes my tastes mesh with the readers, and sometimes they don't, but anybody who looks to Hip Hop Isn't Dead solely for recommendations on what albums to buy without actually taking the time to read each review is missing the point. Even the terrible albums have interesting ideas, and besides, the blog started as a way for me to hone my writing. My WRITING. Which hopefully makes reading about even the worst albums entertaining in the least bit.

    I'm not saying "fuck off, it's my blog, I can do what I want", even though I certainly could. This is just merely the way I do things, and luckily my choices have clicked with readers more often than not. (Even the first guy who left a comment made it a point to reference the writing; if you cycle back to earlier posts, you'll see similar thoughts. It's the journey, not the destination.)

    The reason you've never seen a Soulja Boy review on here is not because he sucks; it's because I can't find the time or effort required to actually sit down with his album and listen to it. But if that ever happens, you're goddamn right I'll write about it, because that's the point of the blog, and I'm sure everyone who doesn't give a fuck about him will make their feelings known, but hopefully one or two of them will realize that the blog is meant to both entertain AND inform. If you're just skipping to the end to see if I recommend a buy or a burn, you've missed the point.

    Ultimately, the readers who spend their time complaining about the albums I write about could better serve their own agendas by commenting more on the projects they actually LIKE to read about. I pay attention to the number of comments that each post gets, and I'm consistently surprised (although I shouldn't be) that lesser-known artists that may actually NEED the record sales always gather the lowest number of comments.

    So it goes both ways.

    P_Captain: I get that you want to see what I have to say about some of your favorite albums, but I have a shitload of discs that I need to work through (there are always more older albums to listen to than newer product), which is why it can take a while before you feel your requests are met. That's why I recommend that, if there is an album you absolutely want to get the word out about, it may be faster for YOU (the general you, not just you specifically) to write about it. This isn't my day job: I don't have the time to listen to albums 24/7, nor would I want to, as that would take away any enjoyment I still derive from listening to music.

    Side note: you can help your respective causes by clicking on the many various Amazon links on the site and purchasing stuff, even if you're not planning on buying the album I wrote about: the mere act of clicking that link FIRST before making your purchase helps support the blog, which can help me with the acquiring of some of these albums you want to read about so desperately.

    Thanks for reading, everyone!

  12. I understand what you're saying and I don't think I ever said or believe that this blog should only review albums that are recommended to buy. What's the fun behind that? It's too predictable and shit. When thrashing a bad album, it always has a bit of entertainment that makes it worth reading, what's bitching without the laughs?

    Also, if you happen to review an album I don't care about, I'll simply move on to do something else.

  13. Max said " blah, blah, blah, blah... blah...fuck off, it's my blog, I can do what I want"

    I can dig it.

  14. djbosscrewwreckaAugust 10, 2010

    Interesting comments in this thread. I don't think it's necessary to always read reviews of albums you know. Reading yet another review of some well known album that has already been debated to death isn't all that valuable. And there's a lot of other places on the net you can do that. I enjoy this site for the scathing criticism and cynicism. The writing.
    I'd rather read an entertaining review than, come to think of it, any other kind of review. Contrary to some other posters who only wanna see a review of something they like/know, this site has reviewed a lot of albums that I wanted to listen to but have never had the time to; I find that useful. I imagine there must be a lot of hip hop fans out there who feel the same.
    Nice one.

  15. The scathing criticism is good. Its nice to know that crap albums I would otherwise dismiss have one or two good songs on them, diamonds in the rough, which are worth checking out. Max, you heard Vordul Mega's Megagraphiti? I have heard some of the tracks. The title track is not bad, although obviously unoriginal.

  16. I think a good reason for reviews like this to exist is so that we can discover the one or two good tracks on an album without sitting through the whole thing. I only have a few complete hip hop albums on my MP3 player - I usually just keep the best tracks. I was pretty sure nothing from Anarchy would make it into my collection, but you never know.

    Also, I would love to see a Soulja Boy review. Articulating why something is bad has merit and is a lot more difficult than just saying “it sucks”.

  17. @ P_Captain, being honest i think run dmc and public enemy are far too universally liked and obv to be worth reviewing unless u look at the later stuff(thatd be interesting).

    And ive noticed, according to you anyway, but i pretty much agree, busta has got steadily worse over his 1st 4 albums, from decent enough, to bad, to awful, to REEAAAALLY awful, has he done a good album? Genisis next or are u giving up on the silly man?

  18. DanielG94, I know Run DMC and P.E are universally liked, but isn't that the same case with Wu-Tang Clan, who have something around 80 reviews here?

  19. AnonymousJune 09, 2014

    I actually liked the Donuts here.

    And Extra P is the FUCKING MAN.

    I wholeheartedly agree that the rest is horseshit.