It’s almost a miracle The Big Bang saw the light of day. With the slew of big-named artists signed to Aftermath who never reached a release date (Rakim anybody?), it was almost safe to assume Busta Rhymes’ seventh studio opus would be released in two-thousand-and-never. But low and behold, The Big Bang is not only Busta’s best album in almost a decade, it’s also one of the best Aftermath releases in several years. Unfortunately, it still suffers from several sub-par and just plain bad songs.
“New York Shit,” produced by DJ Scratch, is a beautifully sampled flute-driven track that finds Busta repping his hometown. Despite its head-nodding mid ‘90s appeal, Swizz Beatz manages to destroy some of that with his obnoxious chorus. “You Can’t Hold The Torch,” produced by the late J Dilla, is the glorious reunion with Q-Tip that finds both MCs criticizing the current state of hip-hop over a beat that recalls the good ol’ Tribe Called Quest days. Somewhat hypocritically though, both MCs, along with Floetry’s Marsha, deliver the shallow braggadocio of “Get You Some,” an epic Dr. Dre-produced ode to material possession. It hurts to hear these artists making this sort of song.
Equally painful is the repetitive “How We Do It Over Here,” which finds Missy Elliott delivering a chorus more cringe-inducing than nails on a chalkboard. Will.I.Am and Kelis also don’t do Busta any favors on the atrocious single “I Love Bitch,” which may hold the world record for most uses of the “B” and “N” words in less than four minutes.
Fortunately, several other high-caliber guest appearances assist on some great tracks. Stevie Wonder guests on the introspective “Been Through The Storm,” where Busta recalls his childhood and rise to fame over a melodic piano loop. Meanwhile, “In The Ghetto” is a funky tribute to early struggle, featuring one of the last appearances by the late Rick James. Raekwon, Busta Rhymes’ Cuban Linx 2 cohort, helps deliver the drug tale “Goldmine,” backed by vintage-sounding Wu-Tang beat surprisingly produced by Eric Sermon.
With the recent loss of his famed dreadlocks, Busta seems to have toned-down his typically animated character, but still delivers good verses throughout. In the end, The Big Bang isn’t the second Coming, but it is a step in the right direction for both Busta Rhymes and New York’s hip-hop scene, which have both suffered in quality as of late.