On “Heart of the City” Jay-Z infamously said, “Jigga held you down six summers, damn, where’s the love?” Yes, Hova virtually owned the airwaves from June to September for several years, just like Biggie (“One More Chance”) and Wu-Tang (“Ice Cream”) in ’95 and more recently Fat Joe (“Lean Back”) and 50 Cent (insert song here).
For Busta Rhymes, it’s not like New York City has never shown love. But in case Aftermath’s latest addition felt that he never he got his proper respect during the solstice, he certainly made a lasting impression in the battle for the summer of ’06 crown at Hot 97’s Summer Jam earlier this month. Busta provided the most memorable performance of the night. Decked out in a full New York Giants uniform (shoulder pads, helmet, jersey, you name it), he brought out Slick Rick, the Wu, Papoose and countless others. And just as many of the crowd members have high expectations for Eli, Shockey and Tiki, so do they for The Big Bang.
Track listings for what would be Busta’s seventh solo album had floated around for a few years, and the album got pushed back numerous times. The finished product is not what you might expect, but Busta comes through on fourth down. Leading off is the blazing track “Get You Some” featuring old-time companion Q-Tip, followed by the club banger “Touch It.”
Missy Elliott shows up on “How We Do It Over Here,” which almost feels like a “Touch It Pt.2,” if it were of better quality. Meanwhile, “New York Shit,” the highly speculated third single, quickly grew on me, as did the Stevie Wonder collaboration “Been Through the Storm.” Unfortunately, Busta couldn’t go two for two on his collabos with R&B legends; “In the Ghetto” proves to be a letdown, although maybe it is unfair to hold Rick James in the same light as Stevie.
Regardless, the meat and potatoes of the LP — the stuff that should make Busta among the most talked about names this summer in the 212 — arrives soon after. Another Q-Tip collabo, “U Can’t Hold the Torch,” as well as “Cocaina” are just the eye of the storm, followed by the absolute bangers “Goldmine” featuring Raekwon and “Don’t Get Carried Away” featuring Nas. Both songs are throwbacks to tracks such as “Verbal Intercourse” and alone make The Big Bang worthwhile.
The fifteen-song album may have two or three cuts too many, but the core of The Big Bang (what would be Side A and the first part of Side B if it came on cassette) is some pretty damn good hip-hop. The Big Bang may not go down in the annals with Cuban Linx or Ready to Die, but it will keep Busta recognized in the same class as his contemporaries who created those classics.