Busta Rhymes is a name known worldwide. A product of 1990s New York hip hop, the rapper (real name Trevor Smith jr) is known for his tongue-twisting verses, lyrical skill and rapid-fire delivery that leaves his listeners speechless. With rhyme schemes that could blow your mind, Busta is undoubtedly one of hip hop’s finest lyricists.
With the rapper’s beginnings rooted firmly in the mid-1990s, his mainstream commercial success came during the late ‘90s and around the turn of the millennium. Born to Jamaican parents, Smith grew up between East Flatbush and Long Island in New York making his early music with the collective Leaders Of The New School. However, Busta quickly set himself apart from the rest of his crew.
Busta’s unique rapid rhyming style, with his dreadlocks and eccentric rap persona, was not common in New York hip hop during the 1990s, and he quickly gained popularity. As well as standard rap, he embraced his Jamaican heritage in his music by including patois and Jamaican cultural references in his lyrics. Busta featured on songs with Big Daddy Kane, Another Bad Creation, The Notorious B.I.G., Brand Nubian, A Tribe Called Quest, and KRS-One before he made it big, but he was known regionally in New York.
Smith’s commercial success came during the late ‘90s signing to Elektra Records, in 1996 the rapper released his debut album The Coming to mixed reviews. Straight off the heels of his debut album, the following year, Busta released his second album, When Disaster Strikes which spawned two hit singles, ‘Fire It Up’ and ‘Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See’. It was here that Busta Rhymes began to become a nationwide household name.
In his career thus far Busta Rhymes has released ten studio albums, three collaborative albums, and seven mixtapes. With so many singles, below we have narrowed his entire catalogue down to five essential tracks tack a look at our list below.
The five best Busta Rhymes songs:
5. ‘Touch It’ – The Big Bang, (2006)
One of the singles off Busta’s 2006 album, The Big Bang, ‘Touch It’ is undeniably a classic. Based around a sample from the Daft Punk song ‘Touch It/Technologic’ and produced by Swizz Beats, there were several different remixes of this song.
However, all of them are amazing, and although the song is so minimalistic production-wise, there is something very sinister about the beat. ‘Touch It’ has to be included on Busta’s best songs list.
4. ‘Turn It Up (Remix)’ – When Disaster Strikes, (1997)
Far better than the original, ‘Turn It Up’ (Remix) is often called ‘Fire It Up’ as that’s what the remix version of the song chants in its chorus instead of “Turn It Up”. Based on a sample of the theme from the 1980s TV series Knight Rider and produced by Spliff Star, the song was a major international success for Busta Rhymes.
This song was Busta’s third top-ten hit in the US, peaking at number ten. In the UK, the track peaked at number two and peaked just below at number three in Canada.
3. ‘Pass The Courvoisier pt II’ – Genesis, (2001)
Released as the fourth single from his fifth studio album, this track, produced by hitmakers The Neptunes, is still a club anthem to this day and was just one of many hits the Neptunes had with their sound around this time.
Featuring Diddy, the song has an iconic music video based on the 1989 crime-comedy film Harlem Nights, starring Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy.
2. ‘Break Ya Neck’ – Genesis, (2001)
Produced by Scott Storch and Dr Dre in conjunction, ‘Break Ya Neck’ contains a sample of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers song ‘Give It Away’ and was the second single for Genesis.
The music video, directed by the acclaimed Hype Williams, features cameos from a multitude of artists, including the likes of Spliff Star, Diddy, Ludacris, Fabolous, Crunchy Black of Three 6 Mafia, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Lil Jon and The East Side Boyz, Swizz Beatz, CeeLo Green, Big Gipp, and Khujo.
1. ‘Woo Hah!! Got You All in Check’ – The Coming, (1996)
The song that put Busta Rhymes on the map, this single from his 1996 debut album The Coming, was the rapper’s first single as a lead artist to enter the charts. Peaking at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 and UK Singles Chart, it was Busta Rhymes’s first international hit also.
The track was certified platinum a year after its release making it Smith’s first platinum single and set the bar for his future work. You can watch the music video for the track in the video below.