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Rap Biographies: Busta Rhymes

Busta Rhymes
Trevor Smith Jr. (born May 20, 1972), better known as Busta Rhymes, is an American hip hop musician. He is known as one of the most colorful, outspoken and influential rap artists in the industry today. Born in New York Busta began performing with the Leaders Of The New School before hitting it big solo. Although he never sold the millions of LPs his rapping counterparts sold he remains one of the most original hip hop artists with his rapid-fire rapping style and innovative videos.

Trevor Smith is of Jamaican heritage. At the age of 12, his family moved to Long Island, where he was raised and eventually met up with other MCs from the growing New York area hip hop community. He attended and graduated from George Westinghouse High School in Downtown Brooklyn. Inspired by fellow Long Islanders Public Enemy and Eric B. & Rakim, the foursome united as Leaders of the New School and signed a deal with Elektra Records right out of the gate, when Busta was only 17 years old.

Before his leap to stardom, Rhymes, born Trevor Smith, was a rambunctious middle-class kid from Long Island who wrote "rap poetry" and dropped out of high school to pursue a music career. "I really thought he'd be a dancer," says his mother, Geraldine Green. "At family cookouts he would win all the dance contests. He was always a showman." Instead, at 17, Rhymes landed a six-figure record deal.

During the next decade, he started his own label, Flipmode, and a clothing business, Bushi, whose products he models in Shaft. "I never got past 10th grade, and my mom had to deal with friends and family whose kids were doing their thing with college," he explains. "A lot of these kids come home owing mad loans. They got degrees but they're not really marketable skills. So then they come to me looking for an internship."

Busta Rhymes' musical career began as a member of the Hip Hop crew Leaders of the New School. They begin recording in 1991 and soon gained limited fame and acclaim for their danceable beats and clever humorous lyrics. The Leaders Of The New School released their last album T.I.M.E. in 1993, after which Busta Rhymes began his solo career.

Chuck D of Public Enemy gave Trevor the name Busta Rhymes (from former NFL football player George "Buster" Rhymes) after watching Trevor perform. He became famous throughout the hip hop community with the release of his debut solo album on Elektra Records, The Coming. The album's mix of ragga and hip hop made it a marginal success, and it included the US and UK top 10 single 'Woo-Hah!! Got You All In Check'. The follow-up, When Disaster Strikes... was less successful in the US but sold well overseas. The album did, however, produce two hugely popular singles and videos in America, 'Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See' and 'Dangerous'.

"Whoo Hah!! Got You All In Check." received especially massive airplay and made him a household name. Blessed with one of the most innovative and recognizable rhyme styles in the industry, his ability to twist and contort words and cadence is amazing. His follow up album, the 1.5 million selling When Disaster Strikes would keep him there. The success of across the board smashes such as "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See," would cement Busta and his Flipmode Productions as a cultural force that would transcend the boundaries of hip hop. The hit that made him really big was a album by the name of "Disaster Strikes". When that came out people really turned there heads, when you heard that song you new it was Busta Rhyme's song. This CD showed the real changes of Busta and his new style of music called flipmode.

His second album, When Disaster Strikes, debuted at number three in September 1997. Extinction Level Event followed a year later, and in mid-2000, Busta released Anarchy while appearing on the silver screen in a remake of the blaxploitation classic Shaft.

The same year he released a collaborative project with other rappers. Rhymes' fascination with film informed the same year's Extinction Level Event: The Final World Front, which took its title from the disaster movie Deep Impact. Rhymes enjoyed further transatlantic success in April when the single "What's It Gonna Be?!', featuring Janet Jackson, reached the US and UK Top 10. Rhymes has kept up his work rate, juggling his music career with his acting roles. In 2000 he worked on several movie projects, including the remake of Shaft, and released his final album for Elektra, Anarchy.

On the other end of the spectrum is the mayhem achieved by Busta and Mystikal (from Master P's No Limit Posse) on the raucous "Iz They Wildin Wit Us & Gettin Rowdy Wit Us." The anthemic, amped-up chant of "Rowdy Rowdy," is sure to go down as another Busta classic.

Busta seized the opportunity to display his other talents by flexing his acting ability in such films as Who's The Man, Strapped, and a key role in John Singleton's Higher Learning. The hip hop star has also made several TV appearances, including a guest star spot on the Steve Harvey show this year.

After leaving Elektra, Rhymes signed to J Records, a new label started by recently ousted Arista chief and founder Clive Davis. In 2001 he released a greatest hits record alongside a new album of original work. Continuing the apocalyptic theme of his previous albums, he titled his record Genesis. The aptly titled Genesis gave Busta Rhymes a rebirth of success with the hit singles "Break Ya Neck" and "Pass the Courvoisier" produced by well-known hip-hop producers Dr. Dre and The Neptunes.

On November 26, 2002 Busta Rhymes released his 6th studio album It Ain't Safe No More. Its first single, "Make It Clap," was a moderate hit and had a popular remix featuring a sample from Eric B. and Rakim's hit song "Eric B. is President", along with a remix video. The second single, a duet with Mariah Carey, entitled "I Know What You Want" has been more successful. It reached the top ten of Billboard's pop singles chart and the top ten in rap radio airplay.

Busta Rhymes has recently signed to Dr. Dre's Aftermath Entertainment and will release his newest album, The Big Bang. Busta announced that the album's official release date will be 4 days before his birthday on May 16th.

Busta has appeared in several films, including Higher Learning, Full Clip, Finding Forrester, Halloween: Resurrection and the 2000 version of Shaft, among others.

Over the years Busta Rhymes style has changed significantly. His earlier work is generally considered more creative displaying his talent for unique wordplay and subject matter. It was only after friend and mentor Sean "Diddy" Combs convinced him that his efforts on his first solo album were too spaztic for the club that he changed his focus. Currently his style and subject matter differs little from other mainstream rap acts. As a result his recent albums are not held in as high esteem as his earlier works although they have sold significantly better.

Amid all the extraneous activities, Busta still found time to successfully engineer his own record company, Flipmode Entertainment, and carry his coveted Flipmode Squad to the top of the charts with their first album, the gold-plus The Imperial, featuring the hit "Cha Cha Cha." The tireless entrepreneur also has unveiled his own clothing line, Bushi, which is influencing streetwear in the same way Busta's early records infiltrated the hip hop scene. In November of 2005, Busta Rhymes cut off his trademark dreadlocks during a photo shoot in a New York barbershop.
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