Busta Rhymes describes the creative competition that helped him and Eminem create "Calm Down." Mumble rappers of today should take notice.
Busta Rhymes is serious about emceeing. In 2014, he met his match in Eminem.
Busta recently described the epic collaboration effort the two put forth in 2014 with “Calm Down.” Some media outlets went so far as to call it a “battle” within a song. Each rapper continually upped their verses in response to the other’s.
Call me nostalgic. Call me old fashioned. But this type of drive and focus highlights the stark contrast between the MCs of old and the new era of rappers that don’t care enough about the craft to pronounce words properly.
And as mumble rap threatens to take over the airwaves, let’s not forget the message these elder statesmen are sending.
“Calm Down” wasn’t the first time Eminem and Busta Rhymes collaborated, but it might be the most memorable. At least according to Busta.
In a recent song breakdown with Pitchfork, he called the track “the case study” in the “fundamentals of hip-hop and the art of emceeing.”
Check it out below:
And these two didn’t just stumble upon this epic track. They built it together, almost against each other. After sending verses back and forth and upping the stakes each time, the pride each emcee took in their craft resulted in this epic six-minute banger.
Check out the track below:
Busta Rhymes describes the process:
I sent the record to Eminem with 16 bar verse. He sent it back with like 40 bar verse. I’m like ‘what the f*%k is going on. You are not gonna do this to me on my song.’ I sent back my verse with 45 bars. He sends it back 56 bars. I sent mine back 62 bars. He sends back 66 bars. I’m like, look bro, who we making this record for at this point? Are we making this record for the consumer or we are just battling each other now?
They got so heated, so swept up in the creative moment, that Busta Rhymes actually thought he was battling Eminem on his own song. That’s pride, that’s passion, and that’s rare in these times.
I know that the art of emceeing is different than mumble rap. I realize that mumble rap has its place for many listeners out there. Maybe they don’t care about lyrics, and maybe they have an earwax buildup so thick that they can’t hear what anyone is saying anyway.
But this is an opinion. You might not like it, and that’s fine.
But could someone please explain to me the appeal of this genre? Why do you like rappers if you can’t hear what they’re saying? I know, I’m probably just old, and maybe you can understand every word.
That doesn’t change the issue — most of them are saying absolutely nothing.
I’ve covered them before. Post Malone? He’s still wearing lyrical training wheels. Travis Scott? Has he said anything original? While Eminem & Busta amplify their creative juices, Travis Scott falls asleep in the studio. Lil Uzi Vert? He might be the best of the mumblers, but his lyrics look like they were Xeroxed from some random throwaway verse from 15 years ago.
Check out these ‘lyrics’:
Flow and overall vibe are important, and that’s what people value in these artists.
But as hip-hop fans, if you demand that your favorite artists also say something, it will make listening to them all the more fun. If they’re going to make millions of dollars off of you, they might as well bring the whole package.
At least rappers like Eminem and Busta Rhymes are still trying uphold a standard.