When Busta Rhymes and Eminem battled it out
(Credit: Wikimedia/Sven Werk)

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When Busta Rhymes and Eminem battled it out

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 a battle.

During an appearance on Power 106’s Big Boy’s Neighbourhood radio show in 2014, Busta Rhymes explained the making of his track ‘Calm Down’ featuring Eminem, which featured on his album Extinction Level Event 2: The Wrath of God. 

Busta Rhymes has collaborated with many people. However, while speaking on the Los Angeles radio show, the Brooklyn lyricist (real name Trevor Smith) explained how he and Eminem descended into a full-on lyrical duel over the internet while sending their verses via email.

Questioning Smith about the formulation of the song, Big Boy asked, “I don’t know what the battle was between you and Eminem, but how does a song with Eminem and Busta Rhymes come together? There is absolutely no gimmick to you guys when y’all want to go, and that pen y’all ink runneth over. How did that come about?”

Busta then detailed the creation of ‘Calm Down’ unveiling, “I made the record. Two 16-bar verses and a hook. The song is three minutes and eight seconds. We sit on the record for some time and then the opportunity came for me to meet with Paul Rosenberg (Eminem’s manager).”

He continued, “Paul gives me a phone call two months later. Em gets the record a few moths goes by. Then we finally get the call from Paul saying, ‘I’m coming through to play you something’. So Paul comes to the studio, and he plays the Em verse and I got the song in a regular format structure for a radio station. But Em gets on the third verse and does 42 bars!”

Smith admitted he was slightly annoyed that Mathers had decided to make his verse so long and revealed that because he was such a fan of the Detroit artist, he didn’t want the collaboration to be easy. That said, he decided to challenge Eminem by scrapping his original version and writing a 50-bar verse.

Speaking about their Detroit studio session, Smith recalled, “About five or six hours pass and Em heard the [50-bar] verse and Em’s like ‘You’s a crazy motherf*cker!’ and I’m like ‘Are we gonna mix the record?!’ and he’s like ‘Nah we not mixing the record!'”

The two made some minor tweaks, but the final result was a lyrical battle of two masters that sent shockwaves through hip-hop. With its unwavering lyricism and dynamism, ‘Calm Down’ is a landmark track to this day.

You can listen to Busta’s story and the lyrical masterpiece in the videos below.