Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Having Your Cake and Insulin, Too
A few weeks ago, in what seems to be standard for big album releases or album releases by big names the last two years or so, Busta released two videos for two simultaneous singles, undoubtedly devised and conceptualized to appease everyone or at least enough people that it sells more copies than Busta's last few albums.
Maybe the fall-off wouldn't have happened if he hadn't based the bulk of his past albums around the concept that there was "...only 5 years left" and that the year 2000 would be the End Days.
But the first video is some bullshit with Linkin Park where everyone is over-emoting and doing that post-mid-90's thing where people thing putting a facade of emotion on is the same as evoking anything at all. Also, besides that one good song on Meteora and the singles from Hybrid Theory, Linkin Park invariably equals fail. Plus, the video reeks of, "Hey, let's get with the rock demograpgic! Like when we tried to do when we had Jonathan Davis in that video no one ever played off that album no one liked", as well as this bullshit black conservative Tony Robbins bullshit that's been peddled through mainstream rap and what's left of R&B since Pac was a alive. Its all just sort of empty and meaningless regardless of whether they're trying to be genuine or, more likely, just offering some bad faux-alt rock to make Donkey Kong-era Busta seem more interesting or eclectic than he may be.
(Note Jonathan Davis from 3:30-3:40 and, for some reason, Ghostface at 3:42-3:44)
So the Linkin park video, and song, are awful. But thankfully, there's a second single and video, "Don't Touch Me", which as a track is awesome. But as a video, it carries a bunch of signifiers that, like every (successful) rapper out who is not Lupe Fiasco, Lil' Wayne, Devin the Dude or Kanye West, his peak is long gone and despite all of the recent attempts to climb back on top it probably won't happen.
Frame by frame, the video is basically kind of an homage to "Gimme Some More" in terms of the Warner Bros. cartoon aesthetic, but the issue is that Busta, as opposed to all of the transformations that emerged after he decided to cut his hair and make decent but odd singles with Mariah Carey is trying hard to remind the naysayers and old heads that he can still be the wild, colorful and creative figure he was some 7 or 8 years ago before his sales started slumping and 50 Cent emerged, fucking up the entire NY rap landscape for years to come.
Interspersed throughout a sort-of cool but ultimately pointless and aimless video are these really awkward shots of Busta's weedcarriers and hangers on and basically shots revolving around a lyrical concept of his since his first record that everyone ignored until The Big Bang because people weren't actually paying as much attention to his rhymes that they did for his flow and behavior and videos, that he's tough and used to sell drugs and will kill you or have his goons do it. Basic whitebread-ass thug posturing. But in a post-Get Rich Or Die Trying world, all of that gets amplified because clearly there is a market for dumb Pac-worshipping G-Unit dickriders who hate music but love hollow machine-gun drums and vaguely homoerotic album covers. And rightfully so, Busta has drawn criticisms for, not the toning down and smoothing out of his flow, which is understandable, being being more and more of an asshole since The Big Bang. The vitriolic homophobia, the dumb-ass DMX-ish run-ins with the law, getting his bodygaurd and friend murked and then upholding the dumb-ass "no snitching" rule, and most of all going overboard on trying to portray himself as a vicious, hardbody NY boss that should be feared.
And its kind of obvious what happened to the guy based on this video. The various shots, one of Busta just counting money, sitting next to girls, intimidating two larger dues who run up on him and Swizz, weird shots of him and his crew just standing around mean-mugging, and the implied "throwing away goons in a trash bag" shot around 1:47-1:54. If you asked him he would probably say he's balancing what he is now, the parts of him that have always rapped about beating people up but has gotten more extreme now, and the silly vibrant animated part of him, which he had clearly been, as opposed to Redman who has always had the balance, running away from. Especially the embarrassing attempt at beef after The Black Album came out. The direction and editing of the video is pretty shoddy so those odd rising shots of Busta and what I assume to be Flipmode affiliates come off awkwardly and just emphasize the taking-yourself-too-seriously-because-you-want-respect mode of thinking Ludacris has been in lately.
Its sad that Redman was the only rapper to balance the funny/thuggy persona out. But even sadder that after all this scrutiny and Busta starting to become reviled in his attempts to combine nostalgia (note the DAISY colors) with his new marketing scheme than he would've on his previous path.
And its logical. Who wants a murderous Busta Rhymes anyway?