Busta Rhymes once revealed how he got his name
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Busta Rhymes once revealed how he got his name

Busta Rhymes is an exciting act that everybody knows. Like many acts, the emcee (real name Trevor Smith) has a background and was prevalent on the underground scene before he broke into the mainstream. However, he didn’t go under the name Busta Rhymes for a long time, and how he acquired the moniker is fascinating.

During the 1980s, ‘ski’ was a popular suffix within hip-hop concerning stage names. From T-Ski Valley and Kool Rock Ski to Joe Ski Love and Luvbug Starski, it was trendy. That said, as a teenager in Brooklyn, Smith began rapping as Chill-O-Ski.

In a 2022 interview, Smith unveiled that he loved the name, stating, “I thought it was cool because, at the time, all of my favourites had three-part rap names like LL Cool J or The Fat Boys, right? Prince Markie Dee or Kool Rock Ski or some of the pioneers like Grandmaster Caz or Grandmaster Flash.”

However, while Smith was focusing on lyrical battles in New York, unbeknownst to the ‘Touch It’ musician, there was an NFL player who would strangely define him for life. During the 1980s, the Chicago Bears were atop the league, but a rookie player for the Minnesota Vikings was making a huge impact, and he was nicknamed George “Buster” Rhymes.

The lyricist had no interest in the NFL and only knew about the player once he moved to Long Island and was introduced to Public Enemy and their go-to production outfit, The Bomb Squad. According to the ‘Pass The Courvoisier’ act, Chuck D likened his dynamism, energy and showmanship to someone effortlessly excelling at football and suggested he call himself Busta Rhymes.

Recalling his initial reaction to the stage name, Smith told sports magazine The Post Game, “I hated the name. Because Chuck D and them were the guys we wanted to be like and looked up to, you usually wanted to try it, so I ran around for like three, four months, and people fell in love with the name because it just matched — ‘Busta Rhymes.'”

He concluded, stating, “Even without [me] knowing about the legendary Buster Rhymes from the Minnesota Vikings. When you see me in this burst of energy, how I’m trying to bust through, it just made sense with just the way I displayed how I did my thing, you know? So it still worked for me even without knowing about the Buster Rhymes history.”