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Trevor Tahiem Smith, Jr., (born May 20, 1972), better known by his stage name Busta Rhymes, is an American rapper, producer and actor. Chuck D of Public Enemy gave him the alias Busta Rhymes after NFL wide receiver George "Buster" Rhymes. Early in his career, he was known for his wild style and fashion, and today is best known for his intricate rapping technique, which involves rapping at a fast rate with lots of internal rhyme and half rhyme, and to date has received eleven Grammy nominations for his musical work. About.com included him on its list of the 50 Greatest MCs of Our Time (1987–2007), while Steve Huey of Allmusic called him one of the best and most prolific rappers of the 1990s. In 2012, The Source placed him on their list of the Top 50 Lyricists of All Time. MTV has called him "one of hip-hop's greatest visual artists." He was both a member of Leaders of the New School and a founding member of the record label Conglomerate (founded as Flipmode Entertainment) and production crew The Conglomerate (formerly Flipmode Squad).
Busta was born in Red Hook, Brooklyn, New York, and grew up in Flatbush, Brooklyn, to Jamaican parents Geraldine Green and Trevor Smith, Sr. in 1972. At age 12 he moved to Uniondale, Long Island, and later attended Uniondale High School, graduating in 1991. Smith attended George Westinghouse Career and Technical Education High School, alongside Jay-Z, DMX and The Notorious B.I.G.
Long Island hip-hop crew Leaders of the New School began recording in 1989 and released their debut album A Future Without a Past... in 1991 on Elektra Records. In early 1992 the group appeared on A Tribe Called Quest's posse cut "Scenario," in which Busta's climactic verse propelled him into the cultural consciousness. In 1993, they released T.I.M.E. (The Inner Mind's Eye). Soon after, however, internal problems arose because of Busta's increasing popularity, and the group broke up on the set of Yo! MTV Raps.
After the group dissipated, Busta Rhymes began making guest appearances on several hip-hop and R&B artists singles such as R&B group Boyz II Men, he appeared on the track "Intro Talk" on Mary J. Blige's landmark debut album, What's the 411?, he also appeared on the album jacket of fellow hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest's Midnight Marauders, with a host of other fellow hip-hop pioneers. In 1993, he appeared in a cameo role in Yo! MTV Raps hosts Doctor Dré and Ed Lover's film, Who's the Man?, and in the HBO film, Strapped, and co-starred alongside Ice Cube and Omar Epps in the John Singleton film, Higher Learning (which was in post-production until it was released in 1995). The following year, he teamed up with Puff Daddy, LL Cool J, and future Flipmode Squad member, Rampage and former classmate The Notorious B.I.G., on a remix to Craig Mack's "Flava In Ya Ear", soon after he would team up again with The Notorious B.I.G. among a plethora of rappers such as Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and Coolio on the single, "The Points" which appeared on the soundtrack to the 1995 film, Panther.
In the summer of 1995, Busta Rhymes started work on his first album The Coming, and a month after recording the album, he released it in March 1996. A month before the album was released, he broke out with a solo hit single, "Woo Hah!! Got You All in Check". Later, he started work on his second album, When Disaster Strikes, which would not be released until September 1997. It produced the hit singles "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See" and "Fire It Up".
His group, Flipmode Squad, was taking form, track by track.
In 1998, Busta recorded Extinction Level Event (Final World Front). Its lead single, "Gimme Some More" — which sampled Bernard Herrmann's theme from Psycho — reached number 6 in the UK singles chart in January 1999. Busta enjoyed further transatlantic success in April when the single "What's It Gonna Be?!", featuring Janet Jackson, reached the US and UK Top 11. The album received prominent notice for featuring the fastest rapping Busta has ever performed, particularly on a song called "Iz They Wildin Wit Us?", featuring a guest appearance by Mystikal.
That same year, the Flipmode Squad released their group album, and from there, they continued to collaborate.
In 2000, Busta recorded his final album for Elektra, entitled Anarchy. After Busta signed to J Records, a label started by the then recently ousted Arista Records chief and founder Clive Davis, he released a greatest hits collection Total Devastation: The Best of Busta Rhymes alongside a new album of original work. Continuing the Biblical theme of his previous albums, he titled his record Genesis. The album featured collaborations with Mary J. Blige, P. Diddy, Kelis, and others. Genesis was powered by the hit single with Kelis, "What It Is", and his solo single released in November 2001, "Break Ya Neck". The final single was the summer smash "Pass the Courvoisier, Part II", which featured Pharrell and P. Diddy. Despite the success of the two singles, this album did not sell as well as previous releases. Fellow Flipmode members were featured, but minor changes in the roster were noted.
In 2002, Busta released his sixth studio album It Ain't Safe No More. The album was moderately successful, with a hit song featuring Mariah Carey and the Flipmode Squad called "I Know What You Want". Another hit song was "Make It Clap", featuring Spliff Starr. The remix of "Make It Clap" featured Sean Paul. After its release, he left J Records. In 2004, he signed with Dr. Dre's Aftermath Entertainment. Consequently, upon changing label, a new Flipmode album was cancelled and shelved.
His seventh studio album, The Big Bang, became the first #1 album of his career. The CD sold over 209,000 copies in its first week to earn the top spot on The Billboard Top 200. The album also became his highest charting album in the UK, peaking at #19. Some of the album was leaked on the Internet, and as a result several songs were left off the album and new ones added. The Big Bang featured more production by Dr. Dre than Busta's previous releases, as well as appearances by Raekwon and Nas. The singles that have been released from the album are, "Touch It", "I Love My Bitch", featuring Kelis and will.i.am, "New York Shit", featuring Swizz Beatz and "In The Ghetto". Busta also had a stint opening for Mariah Carey's The Adventures of Mimi Tour. Also, Busta performed with Eminem on "Touch It Remix Part 5" and performed a verse on the aforementioned rapper's song, "I'll Hurt You". On July 17, 2008, Busta left Interscope/Aftermath due to a creative clash with Interscope head Jimmy Iovine.
He also made a song featuring Linkin Park called "We Made It". He also made an original song ("Where's My Money") for a fictional radio station in Grand Theft Auto IV. It was later revealed that Busta inked a deal with Universal Motown, who released his eighth studio album, Back on My B.S., on May 19, 2009. He also appeared on Asher Roth's debut album, Asleep in the Bread Aisle. The album debuted at #5 on the Billboard 200, selling 56,000 copies, and was his first album to not receive an RIAA certification, selling 122,000 copies to date. The singles that have been released from the album are, "Arab Money", featuring Ron Browz, "Hustler's Anthem '09", featuring T-Pain and "Respect My Conglomerate". The song "World Go Round", featuring British singer Estelle, was released in France on April 6, 2009 due to the heavy rotation of a leaked version. The single was released in the UK on July 13, 2009.
Due to controversial content, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has banned the album. Back on My B.S. was released internationally, but because of one song, "Arab Money", it is not available to buy as a CD there (however, the album can still be purchased via iTunes). According to the National Media Council, the lyrics were considered to be offensive to Arabs and to Islam, and permission for distribution was therefore denied. Some DJs, artists and fans have lambasted the track, saying it portrayed Arabs in a stereotypical way. The first part out of three of the remix by Rhymes contains verses from the Quran. In November 2008, when "Arab Money" was released as a single, DJ Dany Neville and the Iraqi rapper The Narcicyst responded by recording a reply. Busta later apologized. DJs in the country said they had not received an order banning the record from being spun in nightclubs, and they had mixed feelings on whether the record was offensive or not. DJ Saif of Dubai said:
Emirati DJ DJ Bliss, along with many other DJs in the United Arab Emirates, refused to play Arab Money on Radio 1 in Dubai after it was banned in the UAE for offense to Arabs. He added:
Busta announced that he was working on his tenth studio album, alongside Canadian producer Boi-1da, entitled The Chemo. He says that his next project is 80 percent finished. Busta has reportedly changed the title of his forthcoming Chemo album to Extinction.Level.Event.2 (E.L.E. 2). Some new songs are being considered for the album, including "C'mon (Catch 'Em By Surprise) by Tiësto and Diplo and "Look at Me Now" alongside Chris Brown and Lil Wayne. The trend of album sequels continues with Busta adding another chapter to his 1998 opus E.L.E. (Extinction Level Event): The Final World Front. Busta's manager Chris Lighty sent out the message via Twitter. He said; "Extinction.Level.Event 2 ......prepare yourself." Like the first, E.L.E. 2 is inspired by movies of impending destruction on planet Earth, Lighty said; "From the Intro of the new Busta Album you're going to know you're in trouble and you just turned on 2012 the movie on warp speed,".
DJ Premier, in an August 6, 2010 interview on Conspiracy Worldwide Radio said Busta Rhymes has received over eight beats which he didn't want to use but Premier hoped his next beat would be chosen for inclusion on the album. On DJ Premier's Live From Headqcourterz radio show Premier confirmed that one of his beats were to be included in E.L.E. 2. In 2010, Busta Rhymes formed his new label Conglomerate Records (With later on having rosters such as N.O.R.E., and Spliff Star). He was featured on C'mon (Catch 'Em By Surprise) by Tiësto and Diplo.
In 2011, Rhymes recorded "Look at Me Now" with Chris Brown and Lil Wayne on Brown's fourth album, F.A.M.E., the song has received favorable reviews regarding Rhymes guest verse on the song, and is his highest chart entry on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number six, while reaching number one on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, becoming his first #1 on that chart. On September 7, 2011, Rhymes received six nominations for the BET Hip Hop Awards, held on October 11, 2011.
On May 1, 2011 Rhymes appeared on the launch show for MNET's Big Brother Africa 6: Amplified and performed some of his songs.
In 2011, Busta Rhymes performed at the Gathering of the Juggalos.
Busta Rhymes contributed to the 2011 Tech N9ne album All 6's and 7's, performing vocals on the single, "Worldwide Choppers," released on May 31.
Canadian recording artist Justin Bieber will feature Busta on a song called "Drummer Boy" off Bieber's sophomore studio album, Under the Mistletoe, released on November 1, 2011.
On November 11, 2011, a Heavy D tribute song titled "You Ain’t Gotta Wait Till I’m Gone" was leaked.
On November 16, 2011, it was announced that Busta Rhymes and Mystikal signed to Cash Money Records. On June 8, 2010, way before he was signed by Birdman, he released "Stop the Party (Iron Man)" which featured Swizz Beatz. For his debut single on the Cash Money label and his Conglomerate Records, he reunites with Chris Brown to make the aggressive single known as Why Stop Now.
In 2012, Busta collaborated with Jodie Connor, featuring on her single "Take You There", but he did not appear in the music video.
A song with Twista, titled "Can You Keep Up" was leaked.
Busta was featured on Fat Joe's single "Pride & Joy" alongside Kanye West and Jadakiss. His mixtape, Year Of The Dragon, was released for free on Google Play on August 21, 2012. The tape features guest appearances from Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Trey Songz, Robin Thicke, Maino, Gucci Mane and more. The project is not his Cash Money Records debut or his ninth studio album. He also released a music video for the track "Doin' It Again" which features Reek da Villian which includes a tribute to his manager that committed suicide, Chris Lighty. He also later featured on YMCMB label mate Shannel single "Last Time". In 2011 it was announced that Universal Motown was going defunct making Rhymes and other arists move to Universal Republic Records, in mid-2012, it was announced that Universal Republic Records was going defunct, making artists on the roster move to Republic Records making the label revived itself.
On December 21, members of The Conglomerate Ent., Busta along with J. Doe and Reek da Villan released a mixtape titled "Catastrophic", their first collective effort.
Busta has appeared in a number of films (including Shaft, The Rugrats Movie, Finding Forrester, Halloween: Resurrection, Higher Learning and Full Clip) and TV shows (including Cosby, The Boondocks, The Wayans Bros., and The Steve Harvey Show). Busta Rhymes also recorded the voiceover for the character Magic in the EA game Def Jam: Fight for New York.
Busta has three children with his ex-girlfriend, Joanne Wood: T'Ziah (born 1993), T'Khi (born 1999), Trillian (born 2001) And one daughter with his other ex-girlfriend: Mariah (born 1998).
For a yet-unnamed Comedy Central pilot, Busta has been prank-called several times by Questlove protege Danny!.
On August 20, 2006, he was arraigned for charges of third-degree assault after attacking a man who reportedly spat on his car in New York City on August 12 after the AmsterJam Music Festival on Randall's Island.
On October 24, 2006, he appeared at Manhattan Criminal Court as the district attorney's office attempted to amend previous charges against him to include weapons possession for a machete found in his car. The judge refused to add the charge and adjourned the case.
On February 20, 2007, Busta refused a plea deal offered by the prosecutor's office for the assault of his former driver, Edward Hatchett. The deal would have entailed six months in jail and pleading guilty to two assaults, the attack on Hatchett, and the attack on the former fan. The dispute with Hatchett is believed to have originated over back pay Hatchett felt he was owed. Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Becki Rowe offered Busta another option, pleading guilty to third-degree assault. The conditions of the proposed sentence would include five days of community service, two weeks of youth lectures and six months of anger management classes, as well as three years of probation. On March 18, 2008 a judge in New York City sentenced Busta to three years' probation, 10 days' community service, $1250 in fines (plus court costs), and to enroll in a drunken driving program.
On September 25, 2008, he was temporarily refused entry to the United Kingdom due to "unresolved convictions".
On October 14, 2009, a Brooklyn judge ordered Busta to pay a concert goer $75,000 in compensation for an assault which occurred in 2003.
Busta Rhymes has been nominated for 11 Grammy Awards during his 16-year solo career.
Busta Rhymes has been nominated for 10 MTV Video Music Awards during his 16-year solo career, but has yet to win one.
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Image from Discogs