Best Male Vocalist - 2011
Less than a year ago, newcomer Nicki Minaj stood on top of a Hammerstein Ballroom stage that had earlier in the night featured New York hip-hop luminaries no less than Fabolous, Lloyd Banks, and Juelz Santana. But it wasn't until Red Hook native Busta Rhymes joined Minaj for a surprise guest verse on "Roman's Revenge" that it really felt like a torch was being passed. "How you gon' take my hot line and make it a hot song?" Busta affectionately asked, referring to the "rah rah, like a dungeon dragon" hook she had nabbed from his verse on A Tribe Called Quest's "Scenario." But, as he proved in the schizophrenic, on-the-edge-of-panic bars that followed, Busta still has plenty of his own highly caffeinated energy juice left in the tank. Since the holiday season, he has appeared on track after track, dropping knowledge and twisting syllables for everyone from fellow '90s legends (Raekwon) to hedonist party boys (LMFAO), and British R&B teenagers (Cher Lloyd), all of whom seem to have finally realized that, even in 2011, no one does it quite like Busta.