February 6, 2011

A Reader's Gut Reaction: Busta Rhymes - Back On My B.S. (May 19, 2009)

(Today's Reader Review features longtime contributor Dag Dilligent forcing himself to listen to the eighth Busta Rhymes album, Back On My B.S., which evaporated from the collective unconscious shortly after its release in 2009. Leave some comments for him below.)

I remember standing in front of my television in 1996 absolutely awestruck at what Busta Rhymes had done with his first single "Woo Hah!! Got You All in Check". I was amazed, as everything was perfect. The guy who contributed the final verse to A Tribe Called Quest's "Scenario" had managed to blow my mind with one of the most innovative and out-of-control songs I had ever heard. Hip hop finally had a new hero. Fast-forward to the present day: I'm sitting at my desk looking at the cover art for Busta Rhymes' eighth solo album Back on my B.S., and I am disgusted. What in the flying fuck is this shit? 

Poor Busta: he always has to act somewhat crazy to maintain his image, but this cover is just a gallery of funny faces without context.

Shit, I haven't even spun Back On My B.S. yet and I already hate it. It certainly doesn't help that Busta hasn't released a decent album since When Disaster Strikes, and even that one was hit-or-miss for me. I haven't purchased any of his albums since the massively disappointing E.L.E. (Extinction Level Event), so I guess I mainly picked this one up just to see what Busta has been up to over the past decade. He always talks a good game during interviews, and he usually drops an interesting single, which somehow manages to get me excited about his projects, but I've found his recent output to be highly disposable. I'll like a song for one or two plays, such as "Touch It" (from his previous effort, The Big Bang), but then I'll never listen to it again.

(Since I don't own Back On My B.S. and have no plans on reviewing it anytime soon, I'll break in to fill in the backstory here. This project, which was originally entitled B.O.M.B. (which could still be an acronym for Back On My B.S., technically), was originally scheduled to be Busta's second album for Dr. Dre's Aftermath vanity label: a single, “Don't Touch Me (Throw Da Water On 'Em)”, was even released to radio, video markets, and Hollywood (the song appeared in the background of many television shows and maybe a movie or two, most notably (in my mind) an episode of the failed NBC series Kath & Kim). However, unless my mind isn't just making this shit up, Busta got shitfaced at an industry party and chewed out Interscope Records CEO Jimmy Iovine, who promptly removed him from Dr. Dre's stable out of (justified) anger. Deflated, Busta set up a deal with Universal Motown and changed his album title to Blessed: album art was commissioned and everything, but then Trevor fucked everything up again (I'm not sure how this time) and ended up eventually dropping this project instead, which Dag is writing about. Sadly, “Don't Touch Me (Throw Da Water On 'Em)”, which is actually a pretty badass song, failed to make the final cut, which made all the difference when it came to my general interest in the project. I'll now let Dag continue.)

I highly expect to not like Back On My B.S., but I'm still hoping to discover a gem, something I can pull onto my iPod, There has to be at least one good song, right?

Remember how The Coming ended with the "come suck on these" symphony? It was surprising and clever, and I liked it the first time I heard it (and then never intentionally listened to it again). Well, Busta is still on that bullshit, and he likes it so much he kicks off Back On My B.S. with it. Which is unfortunate, because if you can sit through the intro, he segues into one of the better songs on this project. If you dropped the introductory choir, this track would be vintage Busta and DJ Scratch: not great, but tolerable enough.

Busta reworks the chorus from the Eurythmics hit "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" to create a hook that is way worse than I could ever describe: to make matters worse, that hook seems to take up most of the running time of the track. The beat sounds like a Swizz Beatz throwback, but it works whenever Busta is spitting, at least.

I really liked the hook from this song the first time I heard it, as it is like nothing else on wax. However, upon repeat listenings, I've found that it also elevates my blood pressure. Our host and his two guests sound awkward together: Jadakiss (from The Lox) dominates and delivers a verse that rides the beat well, but Busta and Lil Wayne have trouble finding the groove and deliver weak bars. This wasn't a bad track, but you must mind the shelf life.

This song deserves an award for transitioning from an engaging break beat to absolute garbage within an instant. Seriously, what the hell is this hook: "We shootin' for the moon and land on the stars"? (Doesn't that imply that Busta missed his target and, as such, has failed?) At least the instrumental is mild enough that I can actually hear the rhymes, but Busta rhymes using his inside voice, and he fails to say anything worth paying attention to.

You'll overdose on Auto-Tune with this shit. T-Pain delivers the same hook he had been vomiting for years at that point, while Busta sounds overwhelmed by all the singing. This track sounds like it was designed for the radio, and it can stay there for all I care: I don't listen to the radio for a reason.

The Neptunes deliver another one of their standard radio cuts. Busta spits well with a reggae slant and sounds a lot better when I don't have a chance in hell of understanding him. If you add in a somewhat tolerable chorus, you've got yourself a reasonably good track. Cheers.

Busta manages to cram in some more Auto-Tune, this time its applied to the chorus. On here, poor Busta is trying too hard to be off-the-wall: his lyrics are overwhelmed by the beat and hook, so I have no idea what he was rhyming about (I picked up the occasional name-drop of random Middle Eastern countries, but that was it). I've heard that it is illegal to play this song in Dubai because it is considered offensive to Islam (thanks to the execrable Ron Browz mispronouncing the word “Arab” during the chorus, turning a racial description into an offensive slur. He was forced to alter his chorus for the video version: it's always a good sign for a Busta Rhymes project when our host accidentally alienates a portion of his audience). Well, it is also illegal to play this song in my car, because it stinks.

This song contains one of those innovative hooks that only Busta Rhymes would ever attempt. It's formed around a little speech comedian Mike Epps gives at the beginning of the track. The hook got stuck in my mind in much the same fashion as schizophrenics who hear voices in their head: I wanted it out and it just wouldn't leave. This is the track to check out to see what Busta's into these days: irritating shit.

Apparently the Flipmode Squad has been reduced to just Spliff Star and newcomer Show Money. Ron Browz handles the unremarkable chorus, which is so Auto-Tuned up that he sounds like an Apple II. Maybe Busta's strategy is to surround himself with questionable talent so that he comes off like an old tire a pile of dirt diapers: it's still garbage, but at least its not as appalling as the diapers.

For fuck's sake, even more Auto-Tune. Ignoring the embellishments on the chorus, the beat is nice, and Busta's spitting ill enough. But the chorus is so terrible that there is no way I could recommend that anyone ever listen to this track.

Producer Jelly Roll pulls double duty on this track: he works the boards on a strictly R&B beat and sings a lot about sex. Busta spits some sex rhymes and sounds about three miles high. The result is a sexy, sexy collabo that has no place in my collection.

The chorus includes the line, “You’re number one, you’re a champion”. The beat is the musical equivalent of the chorus (read: sappy). This is the type of song that plays at the end of a teen movie when the credits roll after a spectacular graduation. Sigh. You already know exactly what Akon brings to a track, so I won't dwell on him too much. Busta Rhymes spits some generically uplifting trash, leaving T.I. to deliver the best verse, which is really saying something.

If you're a hip hop head and feeling blue, you might read the guest list on this track and give it a spin to try and feel better. You'll be greeted with a a wonderful mournful piano loop, uplifting lyrics, beautiful singing courtesy of Foxx, Blige, and Legend, and even a lovely verse from Common. Then you'll remember that this is appearing on a Busta Rhymes album (with that “break your neck”-type shit) and you'll feel worse. You shouldn't look to Trevor to solve your problems.

Busta has a "disco-rockin'" dance cut close out the album to make sure you'll never play this shit again. Which was helpful.

THE LAST WORD: Back On My B.S. is disappointing, even by Busta Rhymes standards. Almost every song feels like a novelty and follows almost the same formula: a sparse and yet, overly complex instrumental (which overwhelms everything else), a somewhat terrible chorus (usually performed through Auto-Tune, occasionally provided in an irritating accent), and filler in place of lyrics, which results in a project that is mildly uplifting, utterly disposable, and extremely radio-friendly, no matter how may curse words pop up. Back On My B.S. has a few Busta verses that would have made for amazing guest spots on other, more rugged albums, but when they are gathered together like this and laid over pop-leaning beats (with some of the worst choruses I’ve ever heard), they lose their strength. Pass on this mess.

-Dag Diligent

(Questions? Concerns? Pissed that yet another Busta Rhymes review has run on HHID when there are still plenty of albums from (insert your favorite artist here) that we haven't gotten to yet? Leave some comments below.)


  1. "Pissed", you're damn right!

    So far, apart from the year opening review, everything else has been a review on some crap I could give a fuck about. I don't think I need to mention my requests, the next write-up decides whether I'll continue to read this site any further or not. Just saying Max, this is officially it. If I want someone's reviews there are plenty better resources that review albums that I actually care about.

    I mean, damn, what even convinced me to read this site's write ups when half of it is Wu-Tang related remains a mystery. (there's like barely 5 albums I ever listen to from them anyways)

    If I stop visiting this site, Max, you can still go ahead and put up the remaining reader review I submitted, but it doesn't matter to me anymore cause I know that album will barely get any responses anyways.

    It doesn't matter to Max or anyone else, but I just felt like dropping this comment on how I feel about how this site is doing. But yeah, you can almost consider another reader gone.

  2. P_Captain: This site is Max's. He can do whatever the fuck he wants, and I'm sure he feels that way.

    Interesting to read a reader's review where the album is not recommended, but go figure. It's Busta.

  3. death to auto tune

  4. Panty_Captain, pull yer fucking skirt up

  5. I almost hope Max does a Black Eyed Peas or Soulja Boy album next now just to be spiteful.

  6. Max P_Captain is actually right.You have been reviewing some shit no one gives a rats ass about.I have been asking for that Freddie Gibbs for a while but it seems you rather review this crap.Deuces

  7. Blessed was the initial title of Busta's 2nd Aftermath album. We Made It ft, Lincoln Park was the first single with Don't Touch Me being the follow up. Both received video treatments even though Busta bounced to Universal soon after the release of the Don't Touch Me vid.

    Here was the tentative tracklist...

    1. “Don’t Believe Em” feat. Akon & T.I. (produced by Cool & Dre)
    2. "We Made It" feat. Linkin Park (produced by Cool & Dre)
    3. "Decision" feat. Common, Mary J. Blige, John Legend, & Jamie Foxx (produced by Mr. Porter)
    4. “Right Now” (Prod. Focus & Dr.Dre)
    5. “I’m Go and Get My…” (Prod. DJ Scratch)
    6. “IF” feat. Nicole (Prod. by Rick Rock)
    7. “Blown” feat. T-Pain (Prod. Cool & Dre)
    8. “Throw It Up” feat. Lil’ Wayne & Ludacris (Prod. Cool & Dre)
    9. “Kill Dem” feat. Tosh (Prod. Pharrell)
    10. “Let Me Show You” (Prod. by Busta Rhymes & DJ Scratch)
    11. “Hits 4 Days” feat. J. Holiday (Prod. by Dready Beats)
    12. “If You Don’t Know Now You Know” Feat. Big Tigger (Prod. by Focus)

  8. To david and whoever else crying about my complaints. I know it's his site and he can do what he wants... BUT, he asks for criticism if a reader doesn't like how it's going and guess what... I deliver my criticism. I like how Max still doesn't care about that and just does what he always does, but dummies like y'all that be on his dick just in the hopes of him fulfilling your requests (dream on) are doing him no favor.

    Complaining doesn't fulfill the requests we all make on a daily basis, but being a kiss up that talks shit to those who complain will not make you get on his good side either, cause as it is, he doesn't give a fuck about the comments. He says "concerns? who do you want reviewed? leave comments below" just to make us hopeful that he will actually listen to the requests. Unfortunately, unless it's some generic east coast or midwest rapper, the hopes of the requests actually being checked is next to impossible.

    And yes, I beg Max to review Soulja Boy next because...

    1) It is a famous album that gets thrashed.
    2) It's going to be hella entertaining.
    3) Makes it seem like he's actually going out of his way to review something other than a bunch of generic Wu-Tang, "Ski-beatz", "Danny" crap that no one except Max and his dickriders give a fuck about, even if it's going to be some awful shit.

  9. @P_Captain,

    I could give a fuck about "Back on my B.S." as well, and I wrote the review! I know that nobody likes this album; I am an avid hip hop head – I know the deal. I checked the reviews on Amazon and it’s safe to say that everybody hates this shit except for hardcore Busta fans. But I didn’t write this review hoping that you would go out and buy the album. Fuck, most of the people who read this blog know better. I wrote this shit so that you would be entertained (for the record, Max significantly helps with that). After reading the review you have an idea of what was on the album specifically, why it sucks, and (most importantly) if there are any songs you might want to look up (hence the “best tracks” section, of which this album failed to deliver).

    Check the list on the right, Max has made hundreds of reviews available to you for free...because he wants to. Most of them don’t appeal to me either, but some of them do. Reviews that you consider “crap” add depth the content of the blog, and probably appeal to someone. Check it: Max makes frequent updates (which is a shitload of work), and if he posts one or two (or ten) reviews that you don’t like, chances are, one will come along soon that will make you happy.

    Thanks for reading! Much Respect.

  10. People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along? loooool

  11. LoL. Max loves to piss his readers off XD

  12. @Dag,

    I never called any reviews "crap", I just said the albums being reviewed are shit no one could give a fuck about except Max and those who treat him like their "guide". I understand the work that has been put in and appreciate Max's work, thing is for the year and a half I've been reading this site's write-ups constantly, there's only a handful of albums that I have actually wanted to see. The requests have been put in since God knows how long but if anyone's requests have been fulfilled, it sure as hell ain't mine.

    Like I said before there are plenty of better review resources that I constantly check out too and they reviews albums I actually patiently want to wait for. It's definitely not my loss to leave this site, and I can't speak on Max's behalf, so I don't know how he feels about this.

    Thanks for the more intelligent response.

  13. I wouldn't be surprised if Max spends the whole month reviewing Popa Wu, Remedy and Holocaust/Warcloud albums.

  14. When you gonna review some Freddie Gibbs? Dude is sick, review the straight Killa EP its only 8 tracks you should be able to do that and whatever other crappy album you've got planned for the day.

  15. This dude harping on 'bout hopping off, you need to nike up and quit yapping

  16. I'm crying? Read your first comment bro.
    You're basically begging Max to review your requests, when he clearly stated at the beginning of the year that he wants to listen to music for enjoyment, not for us. Get over it.

  17. I don't think it has been said enough (or at all really) on the comments, but this was well-written Dag Diligent. Keep up the good work.

  18. I agree w/ Mike: Dag Diligent, great review; Ron Browz' use of auto-tune making him sound like an Apple II (ah, the memories) is pretty damn funny.

    @P_Captain: is your time so limited that you can't visit your other favorite review sites and still make an occasional jump over here? I know nothing about Max other than what he's written here, but I think he's not planning on an uncomfortable future agonizing over which reviews would please an audience most. If I were you I probably wouldn't visit here as much...but I wouldn't permanently block myself from returning every now and again.

    And no, I don't consider myself a dickrider. There are plenty of reviews of no interest to me either. So I either give them a glance over to see if I'm missing out on something off my radar, or I don't read them. If there are a lot of such posts in a row, I don't visit as much for a while. No big deal, people's interests are different from one another.

    When there's a lot of stuff that holds my interest I visit a lot more often. End of story!

  19. Any supposed hip-hop site that doesn't recommend purchasing 'Step In The Arena' or 'Daily Operation' has absolutely no credibility whatsoever. End of.

  20. i'm gone for a while and this is what you feed me Dag? B.S.? lol!

  21. soopah protomanFebruary 11, 2011

    it disturbs me that someone pretends to be me even when i dont comment
    someone is riding my nuts hard and i think they should come out and admit who they are, dont be shy

  22. @P_Captian, while you make some interesting points. I have to agree with Dag Dilligiant. I love this blog for the fact that it tells us about the albums we should be listening to, but I read it for the entertainment value.

    Max is like the hip-hop version of Maddox. He manages to be non-conventional yet still makes clever remarks and funny jokes that resonate with me today. So what if I don't get a serious album review, I have one of these album reviews to keep me laughing until the serious stuff comes at the end of the day.

    I'm sorry that you disagree but as others said, you shouldn't stop visiting altogether, maybe once or twice a month should do.

  23. YO, protoman (or fake soopah protoman, whatever).

    To feed you the B.S. I had to eat it myself, several times.

  24. Max's reviews aren't worth a toss because he goes into the albums already expecting not to like them and never gives shit a chance. E.L.E. Had more than its fair share of good tracks, and so did Anarchy, but he wasn't hearing that....he just had an axe to grind with "Trevor Smith", evidenced by the fact that he didn't know that Busta had dropped the apocalypse gimmick after E.L.E.

    I'll be the first to admit that Busta ain't shit anymore, but Max is trying to be avant garde and pretentious about when he began to fall off (Disaster) when many people would agree that he was peaking at this point.

  25. Review the big bang its his bet album