Real Name: Trevor Tahiem Smith, Jr.
D.O.B.: May 20th, 1972 East Flatbush Brooklyn, NY
Busta Rhymes is arguably the loudest and livest emcees in hip-hop. His raw talent lies in his lyrical rapid-fire delivery in true Jamaican reggae-toast style. The wordsmith manages to bulk his message like a club sandwich into every beat with incredible complexity. This combined with his intense live presence, he becomes hip-hop's loudest hype man. Chuck D of Public Enemy gave him the name Busta Rhymes (from former NFL wide receiver George "Buster" Rhymes) after watching him perform. From the Leaders of the New School with two albums to running solo with the 1996 banger, "Woo Hah!! Got You All in Check" he dominated any platform with real essence of the hip-hop emcee.
Smith was born in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, and is of Jamaican heritage. He was born to Rastafarian, middle-class parents. But he himself is a Five Percenter as he later converted to the religion of the Nation of Gods and Earths. When he was 12 his family moved to Uniondale, New York, a suburb of New York City on Long Island, where he was raised and eventually met up with other artists from the growing area hip hop community, including rappers Jay-Z and The Notorious B.I.G.. He graduated from Uniondale High School in 1991.
Smith's musical career began at the age of 17 as a member of the Hip Hop crew Leaders of the New School along with fellow Long Island natives Charlie Brown, Dinco D, and Cut Monitor Milo. They began recording in 1989 and released their début album A Future Without a Past in 1991 on Elektra Records. In 1993, they released T.I.M.E. (The Inner Mind's Eye). Soon after, however, internal problems arose within the group, and the group broke up on the set of Yo! MTV Raps. Rumours persisted that Smith clashed with Charlie Brown over creative control of the groups direction.
Soon after their début, The Leaders of The New School became associated with the Native Tongues Posse, which led to the group's collaboration with A Tribe Called Quest on the single "Scenario." Smith's live performance of "Scenario" with A Tribe Called Quest on The Arsenio Hall Show led to a solo contract with Elektra after an A&R representative saw the program. The Leaders of the New School released their second and final album The Inner Mind's Eye (T.I.M.E.) in 1993, after which Smith began his solo career.
Flipmode and Elektra
From 1996 Elektra put their support in the Leaders of the New School shining star, Busta Rhymes and signed him for a solo recording deal. Soon after Bus' was granted his own label which was to serve as an imprint to the label. At the time his friend, Rah Digga, was signing to Elektra along with another friend of his Rampage. Elektra would allow Busta to sign these acts to his Flipmode Records. Under the terms of the deal, Busta was responsible for putting their albums together and they would fund, promote and distribute the releases from the label. The first release from Flipmode was Busta Rhymes's The Coming, which came in 1996, during the time that the east coast was beginning to gain popularity again after the rise of the west coast. This album went platinum and catapulted him and the label into stardom as this album is looked at as one of the many classic east coast albums that came out during this period.
Smith's début solo album, The Coming, was released by Elektra Records in 1996. The album however still features rhymes from his Leaders members, Milo In De Dance, Charlie Brown and Dinco D. Other guests included Def Squad members Redman and Keith Murray and sweet vocals from Zhane. It reached #6 on the Billboard 200 chart in 1996 and has since gone RIAA platinum. All Music Guide gave at a near perfect 4.5 out of 5 star rating. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AMG says that "Busta Rhymes has never had such an impressive showcase for his rhymes as he does on The Coming". It boasts the hit single "Woo Hah!! Got You All In Check" which reached #8 on The Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1996. It was nominated for a 1997 Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance and Steve Huey of All Music Guide says that Woo Hah "catapulted Busta into solo super stardom"
Rampage would release his début album in 1997, along with Busta Rhymes' second album. The label soon released an album by Flipmode Squad, The Imperial Album. By 1999, the group and label were one of the most popular crews in hip hop, with Busta Rhymes as their central star and leader.
His follow-up, When Disaster Strikes was successful in the US and sold well overseas. The album produced two hugely popular singles and videos in America, "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See" and "Dangerous". The third single "Turn It Up/Fire It Up" reached as high as number 2 on the UK singles chart. The next year he released The Imperial Album as part of the Flipmode Squad, a collaborative project with rappers Rampage, Lord Have Mercy, Spliff Star, Rah Digga, and Baby Sham. It, like its predecessor would sell very well by going gold.