Busta Rhymes, "The Big Bang" (Interscope/A&M)
Despite stacking seven solo studio albums, Busta Rhymes is better known as a prolific singles artist. Few rappers can match his long list of memorable hits and innovative, if not elaborate, music videos.
But Rhymes's latest disc, "The Big Bang," is finally proof that he can concoct a consistently inspired full-length effort. Gone are the filler tracks and wearisome theme of millennial dread that informed past releases. Instead "The Big Bang" lives up to its title, featuring a varied set of shimmering, soulful beats, Rhymes's dexterous, guttural flow and some well-placed cameos from Stevie Wonder, Missy Elliott and the late Rick James, among others.
Highlights include the soaring groove of the Big Apple ode, "New York...," the Daft Punk-sampled "Touch It" and the coke raps of "Goldmine" featuring a rejuvenated Raekwon.
Rhymes sounds best collaborating with Q-Tip on "You Can't Hold a Torch," produced by J. Dilla, who died earlier this year at age 32. The song, which reworks a Minnie Ripperton song snippet once used by A Tribe Called Quest, has the duo bemoaning today's pool of unimaginative MCs. Rhymes dismisses the rookies: "They ain't got it in them to make a classic/... can't hold a torch/ so why pass it."
Given the resounding quality of "The Big Bang," Rhymes may have a point.