Hey, even Nostradamus got a few predictions wrong. For years, Busta Rhymes has been predicting the end of the world on record, but when it didn’t come in 2000, the most prolific rapper not named DMX was well-prepared, cranking out his third solo album in three years. While the title and cover art keep up the postapocalyptic front, musically this release is business as usual. Like 1999’s Extinction Level Event, bouncy, uptempo party anthems with simple keyboard riffs and catchy choruses dominate Anarchy. Choosing not to tamper with success, hip hop’s most recognizable and marketable pop icon has perfected his formula and rarely deviates from it. Even “Wild Out,” featuring Lenny Kravitz, sounds like a typical Busta Rhymes song with a guitar solo tacked on. Two departures from the norm, however, provide the album’s most memorable moments. “The Heist,” a collaboration with Wu-Tang’s Raekwon and Ghostface Killah, produced by long-lost underground hero Large Professor, marks a return to East Coast hip-hop basics. Three tracks produced by JayDee (of Slum Village and the Ummah), “Enjoy da Ride,” “Live It Up” and “Show Me What You Got,” also provide Busta with a brand-new, and as he likes to say, “remarkable” sound (even though it’s somewhat of a return to his Native Tongue roots). The smooth, melodic but still banging beats of Detroit’s finest contrast nicely with Busta’s adrenaline-laced style and are sure to make listeners fiend for more. Anarchy is a consistent and enjoyable album, but would benefit from more stylistic gambles like those. While he’s a proven talent as a hit-maker, Busta needs to spend a little more time with his Rhymes and step outside of his comfort zone in order to remain on top in the future. That is, if the world’s still here.
Luke Forrest writes about music for the Metro Times. E-mail [email protected].