HHW: Anyone standout to you right now, who is a thorough representative of Hip-Hop culture?
Busta Rhymes: The ones who uphold the fundamentals of lyricism and real Hip-Hop are the ones who are garnishing the greatest accolades in the culture right now. Kendrick [Lamar] is at the top of that list.
From Grammies, to Pulitzer [Prize] Awards, that’s lyrical sh*t being respected at its highest level. If you ain’t repping the culture, and falling into the criteria from a lyrical standpoint, conceptual standpoint, performing standpoint, creative approach standpoint—you don’t even get considered for that level of acknowledgement. So that speaks volumes within itself.
HHW: Earlier, you touched on how Terrace Martin is also involved in the Doritos Blaze The Beat competition. He’s a producer that you have worked with before. But for those who aren’t too familiar with his sound, how would you describe it to them?
Busta Rhymes: I think Terrace Martin is one of the most timeless great producers to ever exist. When I say timeless, you can’t put a timeline on what he chooses to do sonically. Terrace [Martin] is young, but he can rock sh*t that can be in the circle of people like Herbie Hancock and them.
Then he can turn around, and knock your block off with some sh*t that you’d hear on Kendrick’s album. So he’s a primary example of someone bridging the gap. Because he is thoroughly respect amongst creative geniuses. From jazz sh*t, to knock your block off with heavy 808 boom bap sh*t; and trap sh*t. He plays a million instruments on some child prodigy sh*t. So he’s one of the best to ever do it to me.
HHW: Two years ago, you and Consequence jumped on stage from out of the crowd on Saturday Night Live to help perform “The Space Program” with A Tribe Called Quest off their We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service album after Phife’s passing. Can you describe the emotion that was going through you at the time?
Busta Rhymes: [Pauses] It was f*cked up, man. That’s a good question, because we’ve never been asked that question. It was a horrible day. As blessed and beautiful as the moment was to have that opportunity, but that was the first time that we ever performed without Phife.
The last full performance we did with Phife was my 25 Year Anniversary Concert at the Prudential Center. That was on December 5th, 2015. That was the first time we did “Scenario” and “Scenario” remix back-to-back the entire time them songs existed. We would always do one, or the other—and that was the last time that we performed with Phife on stage. Then he died March 22nd, 2016. So, having to unravel the picture, and no Phife came out. Like when we were doing the rehearsals that day, that sh*t was f*ckin crazy.
A whole lot of crying; and a whole lot of emotions on the set. It was challenging getting through it, and it was nerve-racking, because mothaf*ckas didn’t know if they were gonna break down during the actual taping of the show later on that night. That was probably the most difficult time performing without Phife the entire time. It’s been challenging the entire time because they [A Tribe Called Quest] had to do some the biggest festivals without Phife.
Having his mic there, with just a light on it, knowing that he ain’t never coming out. It was crazy, but at that point, it had been done several times without Phife. Even though, you never really all the way get used to it, you still know what it is. But that very first time. You don’t know what the f*ck that feeling was, and that was the Saturday Night Live moment. Word. Good f*ckin question, bro.