Like it or not, when Native Tongues alumnus Busta Rhymes refused to cooperate with the authorities after his bodyguard, Israel "Iz" Ramirez, was slain at a Brooklyn video shoot this February, he quickly gained respect for adhering to the streets' zero-tolerance no-snitching code. The Big Bang, Busta's best record yet, looks to further his rep with a collection of sinister street jams and gritty, personal narratives. "Get You Some," the album's devilish first track, begins with a weirdly modal yodel, beckoning both Q-Tip and Floetry's Marsha Ambrosium, who in poisonous "this-could-all-be-yours" tones hawk their worldly wares. Adding to the far-gone feel, Busta, like a neutered cocker spaniel trying to piss out grape seeds, is agonizingly graceful, spitting on some sinister, Satan-on-the-mountaintop-offering-up-Manhattan shit. Elsewhere, Dr. Dre keeps the streets on smash with both "Don't Get Carried Away" (featuring Nas) and the strangely spiritual "Legend of the Fall Offs," where, over Dre's dirt-shoveled percussion, Busta muses on what happens in the hip-hop afterlife.
Rounding out the record with some much needed introspection, Busta renders the Stevie Wonderassisted "Been Through the Storm" a masterpiece, detailing his hardscrabble life in a manner any 'hood dweller can feel: "Seek refuge in the alleged land of the free-looking/Blending in with city folk, down in Flatbush, Brooklyn/Feel a little of my pain, follow and sing to it/Homie I seen it all/You ain't knowin'/I been through it." Expect requested 'hood pass in six to eight weeks.
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