Busta Rhymes, Chingy
Longtime fans of Busta Rhymes should know better than to buy It Ain't Safe No More (J Records, 2002)--the full-length has just never been the guy's medium. In the mid-90s Busta's brusque vocals colored so flamboyantly outside the lines, jarring against beats that were themselves garish scribbles, that he was best taken in one single at a time; anyone who demanded an hour of consistent anarchy after "Woo-Hah!! Got You All in Check" was either ungrateful or plain loopy. Fame has since mellowed the MC's idiosyncrasies; a real sourpuss could make a case that Busta's never topped his breakthrough cameo on A Tribe Called Quest's "Scenario" in '91. The nicest thing I can say about "I Know What You Want," the current duet hit with Mariah Carey, on which Busta is allowed to sing, is that Mariah isn't allowed to rap, and his image makeover into an urbane club fixture with last year's "Pass the Courvoisier" was tainted by the song's indulgence in upscale materialism at its most advertorial--this was hardly Run-DMC going on about their Adidas. It's understandable that a black man might begin to feel uncomfortable in a wild yet gentle comic persona so appealing to a white audience, but I'll stick with the hits on Total Devastation: The Best of Busta Rhymes (Rhino, 2001)--and I expect that when drawing up his set list tonight Busta will largely do the same. He'll be following Chingy, who lifts trick after trick out of the Nelly playbook on his single "Right Thurr"--he doubles his rs, he chants boyishly, he wades so smoothly among the beats he'll ingratiate you out of your panties before you realize you've taken off your coat. He's also inherited Ludacris's knack for making sex talk so playful you overlook matters of physical impracticality. ("She threw it at me like I was a shortstop" sounds kind of painful.) "Right Thurr" will surely stand as the catchiest mispronunciation of the year--and if there's another reason for Jackpot (Capitol) to exist it's going to take someone with more financial interest in Chingy's career than myself to determine. Friday, August 22, 8 PM, Park West, 322 W. Armitage; 773-929-5959 or 312-559-1212.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Dean Karr, Jonathan Mannion.