Busta Rhymes and Eminem are both renowned for their tongue-twisting lyricism and complex rhyme schemes. They both possess the rare talent of being able to rap extremely fast, and they are also both legends. However, on one occasion, what was meant to be a collaboration turned into an e-mail rap battle.
Busta Rhymes has collaborated with many people. However, in a 2020 interview with Pitchfork for their Critical Breakthroughs YouTube series, the Brooklyn lyricist (real name Trevor Smith) explained how he and Eminem descended into a full-on lyrical duel over the internet.
Unlike decades ago, artists no longer have to be in the studio together to create music. For better or worse, nowadays, many artists record and send verses via email. Unfortunately for Busta Rhymes’ track ‘Calm Down,’ he could not get Eminem in the studio but still wanted him on the song.
That said, Smith sent the Detroit rapper the beat and his 16-bar rap. However, it quickly changed. Explaining to Pitchfork, Busta revealed, “I sent the record to Eminem with 16 bar verse. He sent it back with a 40-bar verse. I’m like, ‘Man, what the f**k is going on. You are not gonna do this to me on my song.'”
He then proceeded to admit that he sent a longer verse back to Eminem, recalling, “I sent back my verse with 45 bars. He sends back 56 bars. I sent mines back 62 bars. He sends back 66 bars. I’m like, look bro, who we making this record for at this point? Are we making this record for consumers, or are we just battling each other now?”
However, Busta admitted that there was nothing wrong with what happened, as that is the competitive spirit of hip-hop. Speaking on their mutual passion for the genre, Smith detailed, “That’s the beauty and the competitive nature and spirit we both have cause we care that much. We love it that much. No one wants to be a weak link. It’s no longer a business at that point. It’s just that fiery passion that still burns in the souls of both of us as true, incredible Swordsmen of the sport.”
He concluded by highlighting that all rappers “love the opportunity to display the skill set at the most highest level of just raw emceeing” and comically admitted his experience with Eminem was “fun.” You can watch Busta’s Critical Breakthrough interview below.